A VOCATION OF WATER: HOW ONE MAN IS BRINGING NEW LIFE TO EL SALVADOR

Here’s how this week’s arts and culture column begins:

Paul (aka Pablo) Hicks, a project manager for Catholic Relief Services, is married with three young children. For the past 11 years, he has lived and worked in El Salvador.

He grew up in the  central Valley, one of seven kids. As a teenager in the 80s, he went to Tijuana with a church group.

That was a turning point. “Because of the wars in Central America there were massive numbers of refugees and migrants coming up through Mexico to get into California. It was the first time I’d experienced that kind of poverty; not just economic but sexual slavery. Young women, victims without recourse of a broken social fabric, being trafficked. How do you pay your way to the coyote across the border? I’m grateful for the exposure because it took away any romantic thoughts of poverty.”

Another experience from that first visit was pivotal. “We were working on a house and we had a generator that was running power tools and the generator gave out. It had enough fuel: what could be wrong with it? This kid who was there, he wasn’t even working with us but he was watching, took out the spark plug and brought it to his dad. They changed it. They pulled it out of their car or something. The kid put it back in and the generator started right up. That has stuck with me all these years. That idea that you’re there saving people, and here’s this kid who’s super sharp, who has ingenuity: he solved the problem.”

READ THE WHOLE PIECE HERE.

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