EcoViva and the Mangrove Association have been working together in the Bajo Lempa, El Salvador for 16 years for sustainable, community-based development. They collaborated with the Estria Foundation to complete a #WaterWrites mural in the Interpretation Center of Las Mesitas. Julio, from a young artist collective that works from the center wrote about his experience;
It’s very exciting to be able to participate in this painting project. It’s an opportunity to learn and increase awareness of the importance of taking care of our environment. Our art group, with the help of our facilitator, Néstor Hernández, worked to complete this mural in the Interpretation Center. The images reflect the Biosphere of Xirihualtique. Xirihualtique is another name for the Bay of Jiquilisco that means “the place to observe the stars.”
Sometimes, we were nervous because we were scared the paint would run down the wall. It was our first experience. The hours passed quickly and everyday, we were able to see that with enthusiasm, effort, and a lot of patience, we began to achieve our goal.
It has been fun to share these days of laughter and jokes with other youth. For us, the opinion of the local community members who visited us during and after the process was very important. Students and community leaders hold meetings in the center, and various community events take place here. Everyone who has come has expressed how much they love the mural.
The Interpretation Center is located in the community Las Mesitas, in the western sector of the Bay of Jiquilisco, in Usulután, El Salvador. In this center, our art group works on crafts with natural products from the zone like seeds, wood, leather, shells, and gourds. Creating with these materials shows the biodiversity of species that exist in the area.
For us it is important to share the wonderful experience the painting of this beautiful mural has been. The content reflects the protection and conservation of water. Our water is where we obtain resources like crabs, shellfish, fish, shrimp, and other crustaceans for our daily sustenance. The bay that is reflected in the mural is the fountain of life for the people and species that live around it.
Half of the world’s mangroves have vanished in modern times. The remaining mangrove and wetland ecosystems sequester as much carbon as there is currently in the atmosphere. Protecting the remaining mangroves is critical not just to mitigate climate change, but also to reduce the impact of hurricanes, deter erosion, and preserve the world’s biodiversity.
The Lower Lempa River Estuary and Bay of Jiquilisco of El Salvador together contain the largest remaining mangrove forest in Central America. At 74,000 acres, this area is two times the size of the city of San Francisco. Threats to this ecosystem include proposed tourist resorts, the expansion the use of explosives in fishing, and deforestation by local people. The only way to protect this wetland of world importance is to create regional and local environmental policies enforced by local communities, and to build a local sustainable economy so that local people can support their families without hurting the ecosystem.
To learn more about the work of Ecoviva and the Mangrove Association, visit their web pages!
Translation by Tricia Johnson of EcoViva