Manuel de Jesus, El salvador

As I was hanging out in the heart of San Salvador the other week I noticed many people resting around the plaza. Some were enjoying a little rest from the intense heat while others were selling food or coffee, and so on and so forth. I briefly spoke to a man who told me that he used to live in Mexico. He loved it there and said that Mexico offered many more opportunities than over here. He is now planning to go back there to improve his life since El salvador is quite unsafe and hardly any opportunities exist. Another man selling coffee told me that he is married to a Mexican lady from Atlacomulco. Both men shared the opinion that Mexico is a place with more chances to succeed and they will both be migrating to Mexico quite soon.

After my quick chat with both of them I noticed another man further down. He was a religious devotee, passionately reading chapters from the bible and explaining them to passersby, etc.

I stuck around to listen and try and understand where he was coming from with his beliefs. I wished to understand this man’s passion. I had to admire the strength and devotion he had when spelling out each sentence in defence of God’s actions. I got the impression that Manuel truly believed in what he was sharing with everyone around the plaza who literally seemed to be ignoring him.

Later on, I approached him and introduced myself. I told him my name and praised him for his hard work under the intense sun. I eventually asked him if he felt disillusioned at the fact that nobody seemed to be paying attention to him. He responded that although it might look that way, people were subconsciously listening, the word of God is seeping into their minds without a doubt he said…
Manuel explained his reasons on why he started to share the word of God with people. He told me that he was close to dying at least 10 times throughout his life. Thanks to the respect he has for God is that he is still standing straight. Although this is not a job he gets paid to do, he is very happy to spare a few hours of his time on the weekends etc… to making this world a better place.

Apart from being a dedicated religious devotee, he works as a bricklayer most days for a living and to provide food for his family. As we kept speaking, my nose perceived the fresh and pleasant perfume aroma he was wearing. Subsequently that projected a perception to me that Manuel is a person that cares about himself and likes to feel proud of who he is.

Without wanting to manipulated any uncomfortable topics, he touches on the feeling of insecurity in this country. Manuel recalls an episode when used to travel to a community in the outskirts of the city without permission of the gang that operates there. One day, the gang approached him and warned him not to come back as he was unwelcome. A gang warning in any area of this country could mean that if you break the rule the chances of being killed are very high. 

Regardless of the waring, he decided to return to the community since he had a mission with god and he could not let him down. Manuel was inside a house when a sudden knock on the door occurred. Some members of the gang group had located him and were interested in finding out more about who Manuel was. They were basically investigating him in order to either grant him full permission to the community or something else…

Finally, the gang was able to check on Manuel’s legitimacy regarding his relationship towards God so they let him come back.

After that anecdote I could notice how Manuel’s eyes drifted in different directions. I identified that he was getting a little anxious or nervous. A man who was sat behind me was looking in Manuel direction. Such man was taking pictures with his phone and I immediately felt a little uneasy with the situation. It must be mentioned that a common thing for gangs in various parts of the city is to have ‘postes’ (informants) placed in areas in order to notify them of any strange activity. The level of fear and paranoia that exists in this country as a result of the violence makes many people feel this way and I don’t blame them at all.

Manuel decided to say goodbye to me and walked off… 

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