When the pandemic hit, the Rubio family had to choose between paying their rent or buying food for themselves and their three-year-old daughter. They chose the latter. With no place to live, they built a house out of branches and plastic in the middle of the forest in San Miguel, El Salvador.
«The first days were dark. The only sounds were crickets and frogs singing. We were the only ones who lived there,» Sayonara de Rubio said.
The silence ended in late May 2020, when Tropical Storm Amanda pummeled El Salvador, affecting an estimated 30,000 families and causing serious damage throughout the country. After Tropical Storm Amanda, around 125 families arrived in the forest. They built their new homes just like the Rubio family.
Central America has always been vulnerable to climate change. But 2020 was worse than anyone could imagine. Thirty hurricanes hit Central America, the most in 15 years. The forces of climate change have displaced the Salvadorans from their homes.
The Rubios and other families in the San Miguel forest placed their hopes on the Salvadoran government. They hoped the government would give them land to build permanent homes. But more than a year later, they are still waiting, their lives upended by the dual tragedies of the pandemic and climate change.
This project was produced in late 2020 with support from the Henry Luce Foundation, for a Magnum Foundation initiative to document the global health crisis through a variety of perspectives.