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The “Chatarrería”

July 30, 2018

Powerful, Ronnie, Powerful…

Ronnie McBrayer

kidsMany years ago I found myself standing in a San Salvadoran “chatarrería,” a junkyard. I was flanked by the now late Michael Bonderer, a nicotine-addicted, four-letter-word-dropping, endless-coffee-drinking, recovering-alcoholic who had stumbled his way into leading a faith-based NGO, putting roofs over the heads of Central America’s poor.

This chatarrería had been abandoned by the city, and where most people saw wreckage, Michael saw a place to live. The junk and trash were all removed, and row upon row of concrete homes were built. A community of more than a thousand people now thrived with its own churches, stores, and a school.

I marveled at it all; Bonderer’s creative vision, but also the enterprising, dogged tenacity of the Salvadoran people. Of particular interest to me were three little boys who were selling watches. Buying a few timepieces wholesale, they retailed these in San Salvador’s open-air markets, bringing home the profits to…

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