Cordoncillo, El Salvador
Inspired by the work of the women she met in India, Maura has created a relatively lucrative daily project for herself since her return. Every day, at five in the morning, she takes her boat to the continent to buy fresh rolls for the residents of Cordoncillo and then crisscrosses the island with a big, cloth-covered wicker basket full of bread rolls on her head. It’s an idea that brings in twenty dollars a day. With this income, Maura earns the most in the family.
Distribution lasts a little more than two hours. We walk along the water’s edge for two kilometers then take the only dirt road linking all the houses on the island. This allows me to see all the work the two sisters have accomplished in electrifying the houses and to meet practically the whole village.
“We were at the water’s edge when we saw the boat arrive. We wondered who they were and decided to go to meet them. They were looking for José Benjamin who wasn’t there. They tried to explain why they had come but we didn’t understand because they didn’t speak our language: he is Hindu. There was also a woman with them, Antonella from Enel. She spoke some Spanish and was our link. They wanted to set up a meeting with thirty people from the community. I was going to invite people from the village when he said to me, ‘No, you stay here.’ And then I wondered why he wanted me to stay here if I was supposed to invite people from the village. I asked one of our daughters to let the others know. So we waited there without thinking for a second that we would be chosen to go to India! And then, during the meeting, he explained the project and asked, ‘Who wants to go to India?’ No one answered. ‘You don’t want electricity?’ he said. ‘Yes, of course, we want electricity, but send two women to India…’
“Everyone in the room looked at each other. And then, suddenly, they looked at us and says, ‘You and you, both of you will go to India!’ I looked behind me to see to whom he was talking, certain it wasn’t me. Maura then looks at me and says, ‘Stop turning around, it’s you he’s talking to.’ ‘To me? But why?’ ‘What’s your name?’ At that time, my name was still Rosa Imelda. ‘But I can’t travel, I don’t have the necessary documents.’ ‘That’s not a problem, we’ll take care of it, we can help you go to India,’ he replied. Then I answered, ‘No, not me, I’m not going, I will not go.’ ‘Why?’ And then without too much thought, I said, ‘OK! I’ll go to India.’ ‘And you’re both sisters?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Well, then you will convince your sister to go to India with you.’ ‘My sister? My sister does what she wants to do!’ ‘You want electricity?’ he then said to everyone. Everyone answered yes. ‘If you want electricity, these two women have to go to India for six months.’
“But the others didn’t agree that we were the ones chosen to go to India. So we told them: ‘Whether or not you agree, we will go to India!’ I’m a woman who is very fearful, who has never been on a plane, and here I am, deciding to go to India, leaving my eldest daughter to take care of my children. She said, ‘Don’t worry Mama, you can go to India, I’ll take care of the young ones.’ And then I said to Maura, ‘Maura, get ready because you’re coming to India with me! Just think about it, the whole Cordoncillo village with electricity!’ Maura answered: ‘Do you think the villagers will be grateful?’ ‘It doesn’t matter if they’re grateful, we’re doing it for us and for Salvador!’
“What positive changes did light bring?”
“The children can study, read, and write at night,” recounts Maura. “Before we couldn’t see anything at night. Now we always have the opportunity to have light. Some families were able to open their grocery stores in the evening. Electricity has changed our life. Now, we can stay outside with family and friends. Sometimes, we go fishing at night; I can turn on the light and put the shrimp in the cooler. Before it wasn’t feasible with a candle or a flashlight.”
“Do you have any advice for the women who will go to India yet may have some doubts before leaving?”
Rosa concludes: “ It’s not all that hard. India is not another world; we all live in the same world even if we speak different languages and have different cultures and customs. The institution is safe and they will learn so many interesting things and especially a lot about themselves! Bringing electricity and smiles to one’s village is a wonderful experience…”
The full publication is now available on the official website: