Sonia Cedillos

As Interviewed by Amy Cedillos, March 25, 2019

Sonia Cedillos: In Her Own Words

My name is Sonia Cedillos and in the past I lived in El Salvador. When I was about 8 years old there was a natural disaster where I lived, it was called Hurricane Mitch. We lived in an adobe house which was big, but since it was made of adobe, it wasn't that strong. When the storm reached our house,the kitchen fell first,, and then the house fell completely with only half of it hanging down. The house was filled with water and the hurricane had taken away all our belongings.

Soldiers came to take us to a shelter, but my dad’s friend insisted on us staying at his house. So all my family went to his friend's house and I remember well what happened when we got there. His friend's wife got upset because he took us to live with them, we were causing a disturbance. And at the time my father was drunk and his friend's wife made a disturbed expression . My dad started crying because of the burden we were putting on that woman and her family but his friend let us stay anyway. I do not remember how many days we stayed but we realized it was time to make a move and live anew.

Afterwards we all went to search for available house rental. We went to look in new colonies, to a canton. We found a home and rented there for a long time until the colony made a “comunicativa”. This was where they met to make houses to people who were left homeless. Everyone helped each other out to make a new house. My family made a brick house on the land they gave us so our hard work paid off.

The truth is, it is difficult when there are natural disasters because we are left with nothing. But the important thing is that although we were left with nothing, at least, our lives were fine, no one was hurt. The most important priority is human lives because material things can be recovered but human lives can not. That's why when there are disasters, we focus more on keeping people safe than keeping our valuables.

The truth is that I do not know anything about politics, so I would not know what the government did at that time. Though I do think that after disasters they would have a hard time because of the economy. In those moments, society changes a lot because there they see the humanity of people who help each other in disasters. The disaster did affect the economy a lot because in disasters everything is lost and recovering all that is difficult. I experienced it in the flesh. What is different today is that they now warn about disasters, so they can be more prepared.

After disasters, we are left with nothing, we have to start from scratch. Our friends helped us a lot with food and clothing to survive. Little by little they get used to it, at least we are alive, poor, but there all together. The issue of discrimination was not so great in my time, plus I was small and I have no views on that. The civil war impacted poverty too much because the soldiers came, they stole peoples’ things, we were much poorer. But we could recover everything thanks to friendships. We lived with the fear of being hurt by the civil war, that's why my family and I moved to a safer place.

Since I was little, I only saw things happen, I did not understand so much of what was happening, that's why it did not affect my personal life so much. Before natural disasters and war, we lived normal, everything was fine, then poverty came with disasters and everything. As a child, I did not focus so much on the problems of the world and if I was an adult I think that if I saw I was more affected. The important thing that I felt about the hurricane is that none of my family was hurt. That we were all alive and well.