Our second day began early with an El Salvadorian breakfast at the guest house in San Salvador. Once we were fueled up, we began our day of historical sight seeing. This portion of the the medical trip my seem out of place but it is really a well planned teaching opportunity for all of us involved. When we learn about the history of the country and its people we can better understand who they are and how they live. It is only after we have this understanding of the people that we can help care for them.
Our first stop was at a park in the center of the city that has a mural and memorial wall to those that were murded or went missing during the years of the civil war in El Salvador. When we see the long list of names on that wall it is a stark reminder of how many perished at the hands of their own government.
Our next stop was to the home and chapel where we learned about Oscar Romero and his importance to this country. We were able to see the church where he gave his last mass. We walked the same path the lone bullet travel when in went up the center isle of the church and struck Oscar Romero just above his heart. This painted a very powerful picture for all of us.
We then drove to the University to visit the sight of a mass murder of priests in 1989. The surprising thing to me was that the country does not try and hide these events in shame. They want everyone to visit and see for themselves the struggle and the sadness the people of this country have had to endure.
Even though the morning had been filled with these tragic events we were told that the people of El Salvador are a proud people and do not want pity or hand outs. They want to be understood and to be respected and that is why we spent the time this morning.
Our group then traveled to a local artisans market for lunch and an opportunity to purchase local crafts. It was a nice chance for a break before our drive to the headquarters of our medical mission. Our afternoon drive took us out of the city and into the countryside to the mountain side town of Berlin. Berlin is the home of the Pastoral House and the workers that make up the Pastoral Team. Our medical mission could not take place without the in-country help of these people. They help us coordinate the clinic days and get the word out to the cantons (villages) about the times we will be visiting. The Pastoral Team also give us a place to stay and cook for us during our stay. Our team was able to get settled in our rooms. We had dinner and a brief meeting before our nightly chores of preparing supplies for the next days clinic trip.
This is my third medical delegation trip here and it is fun to watch all of the personalities come together for a common goal. Every group has been a different mix of people and experiences and that is what makes it so rewarding and fun.