We have asked our friends in El Salvador to share their stories of survival during the Covid-19 shutdown, which has taken an economic toll on the country and its citizens.
El Taller del Abuelo
Right now the country is facing an economic crisis caused by the Covid19 that is affecting many countries around the world. Our government has taken strong measures in order to protect us [from] the stores, malls, and all those infection sites [that now] are closed. It has paralyzed the economy in this country to guarantee the health of many people. Even though there are many groups of artisans that are being affected, we are people that live on what we sell today and what are we going to sell tomorrow, so this is the reality in El Salvador right now.
We are with the uncertainty of how we are going to start again after this crisis. It is going to be a challenge to continue making handicrafts to survive. In addition, the government is providing an amount of money for each family that does not receive a salary in order to buy food in this quarantine period, but it has not worked how they expected, because they have improvised as fast as they can. The government is trying to help, but there are many people like me that have not benefited yet. We are waiting for an answer to receive this money.
Dealing with this is so difficult because we have a family to support; kids and elderly people, and children who are studying. It has developed psychological problems, and they are not just from the pandemic of coronavirus and the isolation. There are many things that, as an artisan, I have to overcome. Personally, what artisans are going to need after this [pandemic] is to set up our workshops again, and open our national and international sales. I believe the process is going to be hard and slow, but it is the option we have to recover. Finally, today more than ever, we are going to need the national and international solidarity to level our familiar and national economy.
In this moment, we are healthy [and] with our families; [that is] what is most important. We are so worried with this situation of coronavirus. We had to stop working; that is the difficult part, because all the artisans have been affected. This is the hard story all artisans around the world are dealing with.
We have a lot of uncertainty about how are we going to survive after this quarantine. In my case, I left MOJE one week before the quarantine started because I got the flu, and the doctor recommended [that I] rest for a week. I was unable to deliver an order of handicrafts on time and it represented a loss for MOJE.
These days, we have not made any work because we think staying at home [is how we can make sure] the virus does not spread in our country. In Ilobasco, all people have [responded well to] the president’s instructions; also, the mayor of our town is raising awareness about staying at home. He is giving cleaning kits to our families in order to prevent the virus [from entering] our houses. In addition, I have been so busy at home with my two children because the babysitter is not coming [during the quarantine]. I am at home with them all the time.
The most difficult part is that my husband is going to [spend] the quarantine [at] his work. He works in the ISNA (Instituto Salvadoreño para el Desarrollo Integral de la Niñez y Adolescencia), so he cannot come at home to avoid any spread inside.
Beginning again is going to be difficult because we have a family to support, but as an artisan I am sure this sacrifice is going to worth it. I hope for national and international help [so we can] continue making and selling our handicrafts. In this way, we will continue bringing daily support to our family.
Revy Fair Trade is holding an Emergency Fundraiser for our artisans and co-ops in El Salvador.
You can also help by sending a donation directly to Centro de Intercambio y Solidaridad (Center for Exchange and Solidarity).