When I travel to places far from home, there are often many things that are done very differently there. When this happens, I look for the things that are common to us all as human beings.
El Salvador is about the size of Massachusetts and has 23 volcanos on it. It’s estimated that every El Salvadoran will experience a minimum of two natural disasters in their life. Add a 12-year civil war from 1979-1992, deported El Salvadorans who had learned the gang lifestyle, and you’ve got a place that could use a hand.
With a level of chaos that exists abroad, I worried my friends and family by going off to help build a home. Working with Habitat you help one family at a time. There are a lot of families over there that could use a hand up and not a hand out. On a regular day in Canada, I have little to do with someone in El Salvador, but like any other place on this earth, we actually have more in common with people in other countries than not common with them.
This poem by El Salvadoran poet Roque Dalton captures it.
Me, like you,
I love love, life, the sweet enchantment
of things, the celestial
landscape of January days.
My blood also boils
and I laugh through the eyes
that have known the rush of tears.
I believe the world is beautiful,
that poetry is, like bread, for everyone.
And that my veins end within me
but in the unanimous blood
of those who struggle for life,
the view and the bread,
poetry for everyone.
(translated by Emilio Velis)
Por Roque Dalton
Yo como tú
amo el amor, la vida, el dulce encanto
de las cosas el paisaje celeste
de los días de enero.
También mi sangre bulle
y río por los ojos
que han conocido el brote de las lágrimas.
Creo que el mundo es bello,
que la poesía es como el pan, de todos.
Y que mis venas no terminan en mí,
sino en la sangre unánime de los que luchan por la vida,
el paisaje y el pan,
la poesía de todos.