Jan 31 2013

The wonder of wetlands: Salvadoran family helps care for environment

Lake Guija, wetlands site in El Salvador

Lake Guija in El Salvador.

Feb. 2, 2013, marks the 16th celebration of World Wetlands Day. Citizens, organizations and government agencies have participated since 1997 in raising public awareness for protecting the wetlands of the world.

CFCA serves families in El Salvador who live near Lake Guija, a designated wetlands area. Remigio, a farmer and fisherman, and Corina live with their children on a rented plot of land near the lake. One of their children, David, is sponsored through CFCA.

CFCA family at Lake Guija in El Salvador

From left: David, a CFCA sponsored child; Remigio, his father; Teresa, his sister; Corina, his mother; and his brother, Jason.

“I like it where I live,” Corina says of the family’s home. “We have fresh air and we don’t have too much truck smoke. I used to live in the city. I do not like the smoke of cars, the smell of gasoline – all that makes me dizzy.”

Corina also likes having the lake nearby for food.

“Maybe we don’t have many things, but if we have tortillas and salt, we can go to the lake and catch some fish to eat,” she said. “Yesterday David brought some fish and we prepared a fish soup. It tasted good.”

Remigio rises early in the mornings to catch these fish in a homemade cast net, around 5-6 a.m.

“The best time to fish in G¸ija Lake is in winter,” he said. “In the winter the fish come out from the deep water to eat gnats and pepesca (a small river fish). There’s a place in the lake where you throw the cast net, and in 30 minutes you have to take it out because the net is full of pepesca.”

Remigio has lived in this area since he was born. He has a deep respect for the lake and nearby land.

“When the land is wet you can sow watermelon, cucumber, squash, all kinds of fruit, radishes and cabbage,” he said. “Right now they have used a bit of land for sowing corn. That’s another use for the water.”

Opportunities exist in the community for helping preserve the wetlands. Remigio’s mother, Teresa, and Corina take part in a community-wide initiative to help plant tree seedlings in the nearby mountains to conserve soil and water.

The lake also provides a natural source of irrigation for crops, Remigio said.

“On the lake shore you can not only fish, you can also work on the land,” he said. “If you have money to buy a pump, you can plant many things. The water is what it gives life to the plants.”

Remigio said he enjoys fishing in the lake, although the hardest part is moving the wooden oar through the water.

“Have you ever seen a swimming competition? That’s like what I do when I go to fish,” he said. “It’s like exercising, that’s how it is.”

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