Loving La Joya: Niña Juana’s Story
La Joya is a small community of thirteen families in the municipality of El Paisnal. The majority of the families are originally from the area, repopulating the community in 1993 after the demobilization of guerrilla combatants that came with the signing of the Peace Accords. The road into La Joya is full of butterflies this time of year, attracted to the community by the seemingly endless, brightly colored blooms of the flowers most families have in their front yards. It is a joyful welcome to this organized, rural community.
La Joya is blessed by its small size. Each family has a big-enough plot of land for their home and sufficient land to plant their fields, while the community has land for the community center and communal coffee farms. Niña Juana jokes that they only drink coffee grown in the community; since they grow, roast and grind it themselves, it tastes just the way they like it, not bitter like the store-bought instant coffee you find in many rural communities. “I love La Joya,” Niña Juana shares. “It’s organized, it’s small, and we all get along. It’s safe, and quiet.”
The community is located near a natural spring. Through a community-built water system, mostly constructed with PVC pipes and rather ancient looking wire, they and five other communities in the area have safe drinking water. Along the northern edge of the community runs the Rio Sucio, a river unfortunately true to its name: highly contaminated with industrial waste, the water is unsuitable for humans, cattle and crops alike. This community will be key in UCRES’ organizing about environmental protection and advocacy efforts to clean up this river.
While she loves her community, Niña Juana laments that, like most rural communities in El Salvador, “there’s no work here. People have to leave the community to find paid work.” Read More »