The Road Less Traveled
Santa Ana de los Malacos is located about thirty minutes from the EI activities center. As the crow flies, the community is only about ten minutes away, but it feels like another world, remote and rural. Much of the time is on dirt roads, which vary greatly depending on weather conditions. I´ve had the opportunity to travel to Santa Ana every Tuesday since I arrived in Granada mid-September. The journey is always an adventure. The first time I visited Santa Ana, it started to rain around 2 o´clock in the afternoon. We quickly packed up our things and dismissed the kids from tutoring. Even with our fast response to the rain, the dirt road out of the community was nothing but mud. We slid and spun like we were driving on ice, but we made it out without getting stuck.
Santa Ana is home to 102 kids, about 80% of whom belong to Empowerment International’s programs. The rural nature of the community is such that these children mingle with turkeys, cows, pigs, and horses on their daily walk to the one-room school house located at the entrance to the community. Most of the parents who work, work in the campo or agriculture fields that surround the community. This could mean sugar-cane, peanuts, or wheat. If you are lucky enough to visit the community of Santa Ana, you will notice that the atmosphere is much more quiet and calm than that of Empowerment International’s urban barrio. But the reality of the houses and family situations are the same as in Granada. The importance of education, the struggles of impoverished families and their deep appreciation for Carla´s visits and EI´s support are apparent and ever present.
About the author: Sarah Bertman is an Amigos Gap Year volunteer. She speaks Spanish fluently. She also teaches English and helps to coordinate projects and activities with the students. She is planning to begin University in the next year. EI is especially lucky to have her as a volunteer.