Friday, August 28, 2009

San Juan Opico

Yesterday Kathy, Ken and I picked up Dina at the Arzobispado offices and drove out to San Juan Opico, a potential site for next year's general medical mission. Dina, who has been working with the Archdiocese of San Salvador for 25 years, knows our Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace well - she worked closely with Andrea Nenzel and Margaret Jane Kling when they were accompanying the people who went to the Calle Real refugee camp.

Now Dina works with San Juan Opico and Ciudad Arce in the Pastoral Social - the social services wing of the Archdiocese - promoting better health care, better social services, and environmental awareness. Environmental awareness is a key issue in San Juan Opico (located northwest of San Salvador) because a local battery manufacturer allowed toxic materials to pollute groundwater and earth near its factory, causing lead poisoning in a number of families who lived nearby. The factory is closed now, but the pollution continues.

San Juan Opico is a big, lively city with over 90 associated communities in its municipality. We met with Padre Miguel, the doctor who runs the local Unidad de Salud clinic, and a number of health promoters who would be our key connection to the smaller communities. We toured a couple of potential clinic locations - in the photo above, Dina (left) shows Kathy, Ken, and Carmen, one of the health promoters, one possibility.

Today we'll be visiting San Cristobal, the other community that's been recommended for next year's mission.

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