Monday, October 25, 2010

A visit to Panchimalco

Three years ago, when our PazSalud medical mission was held in Panchimalco, Walther, one of the main volunteers from Panchimalco, captured the hearts of many on our team. A group of them decided to help him realize what seemed like an impossible dream for a young man from an indigenous family - to become an engineer.

Two and a half years later, Walther is studying hard and doing well at a University in San Salvador with regular support from his friends in the United States. On Sunday, I drove to Panchimalco to bring him a recycled laptop, replacing one that was stolen. The computer, an old PeaceHealth laptop that was ready to be discarded, was refitted with an Ubuntu operating system and open-source software, thanks to Jeff Bruer in PeaceHealth's System Office.

I met Walther and his girlfriend Sarai in the center of Panchimalco, and we drove a few more kilometers to his home in canton La Cruz - a good workout for the X-Trail, which did very well on the dirt roads and in 4-wheel drive. I meet with Walther often, to get him his beca (scholarship) funds, but I'd never visited his home before. It was a joy to meet his family and get them all to pose for a photo. Visiting helped me to realize the distances, physical and psychic, that Walther has to travel on his quest to become a Licenciado in engineering. It takes a lot of strength and character to manage a leap like this without losing touch with your family and your family's values - and Walther has what it takes.

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