On my flight back to the Bay Area I had a chance to reflect on what I was feeling about my first trip to El Salvador as EcoViva’s new Executive Director. I’m sure there must be a language that has a word that expresses the sensation of feeling humbled-honored-energized all at once.
I feel humbled and honored to get to work with such amazing partners. They truly are inspiring activists and leaders who day in and day out are building the institutions and alliances and doing the hard work that is putting their communities on the path to sustainable development. I was impressed by people like Estela Hernandez, a leader with the Mangrove Association and who was elected to the Salvadoran Assembly; Marvin Alvarado who took me out on the bay to show me the work of mangrove restoration and to meet with fishermen who renounced a dangerous and destructive practice of blast fishing and are now practicing more sustainable line and hook fishing, aka Pesca Limpia; Walberto Gallegos who shared the Mangrove Association’s strategic priorities; and Juan Luna who has a vision for building a co-op that will help farmers move their goods to market and channel the profits to support the Mangrove Association. It made me think about the experiences that our Community Empowerment Tours (CETs) participants have had.
Shameless plug: if you haven’t participated in one of our CETs, I invite you to either join us on an open trip or contact Tricia to see about organizing one with your university group, congregation, or professional association, like Engineers without Borders. It just so happened that my trip overlapped with the Engineers Without Borders, Iowa City Professional Chapter’s visit and I had a chance to meet them in Ciudad Romero. This team of experts consisting of practicing engineers, engineering professors, students and a retired firefighter with a passion for the region and its people were working on technical assessments for clean water projects.
This experience has left me completely energized because I had the opportunity to witness, experience, and participate first-hand in the impact that we’re having. Even as I travel back home, I’m excited and looking forward to my next trip to the region when I travel with the EcoViva board of Directors and other EcoViva supporters on the Climate Resilience and Local Leadership CET. During the tour, our board and the Mangrove Association board will meet to assess our programs and collaborations and chart out our next steps as movement partners.