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Eleanora "Ana" Cananda

Eleanora "Ana" Cananda

Survivor of the Civil War in El Salvador

Born: El Salvador
Heritage: Salvadorian

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Eleanora "Ana" Cananda

Survivor of the Civil War in El Salvador

My name is Ana Cananda. I was born August 15, 1931 in El Salvador. I have four brothers and sisters. After finishing high school I went to secretarial school. I was 20 years old when I got married.

I immigrated to the United States in the 1970s and have lived here off and on for 40 years. Unfortunately, I had a divorce from my husband and that’s when I immigrated. I had to provide clothes, food and schooling for the family. Their father didn’t help out. For five years my children stayed with their grandmother and relatives while I was working in the United States to support them.

El Salvador is a very small country. In the early 1980s there was a civil war going on there. The civil war lasted ten years. About 80,000 people were killed in that war. The war ended in 1988. It was difficult living through that experience. During that time when you left home, you suddenly heard explosions, but didn’t know from which direction the explosions came.

When I came to America I brought my savings of $6,000 colones with me. One dollar equals 8 colones. When you transfer it to dollars, you lose quite a bit. Once I was in the United States I earned dollars. I got work doing house keeping and child-care.

Sometimes I lived in the house where I worked and took care of the kids when the family would go to work. In New York on Long Island, though, I rented a small one-room studio. I was paid $8.00 an hour in the 1970s when I lived with the family. When I lived in my own studio, I would get paid $25 to $30 an hour.

In El Salvador I loved cooking for my family. When I was little I liked to draw. My favorite memory was on my parents’ farm. There was a river that went through their property and I liked to swim there. I liked to play in the water.

I have a strong belief in the values of family. The family is really important. You have to visualize what family is like in El Salvador. The whole family helps take care of the children and each other. The Catholic Church plays a big part in our life. I have much value in my faith.

I have felt satisfaction that I have been able to see the family whole again. My daughters have married and now I have grandchildren. I see the other part of my family complete. My oldest daughter lives in California. My youngest lives in El Salvador. My middle daughter lives in Eden Prairie. Now I travel between California, Minnesota and El Salvador. The kids’ homes are my homes.

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El Salvador

Honoring Eleanora "Ana" Cananda

El Salvador

With four brothers and a sister
In the land El Salvador
Where I studied, where I married
Where I owned a grocery store
El Salvador, El Salvador, El Salvador

With three children my husband left me
With three daughters on my own
With little money I decided
To find work so far from home
El Salvador, El Salvador, El Salvador

I left my children with their grandmother
From San Francisco to New York
Cleaning houses, babysitting
To make money to give support
El Salvador, El Salvador, El Salvador

Without a green card, without a passport
I returned to El Salvador
To my daughters, to my mother
To find people in civil war
El Salvador, El Salvador, El Salvador

Fires burning, one man hanging
Buses tipped over, no place to go
Children dying, parents crying
During Mass they killed Bishop Romero
El Salvador, El Salvador, El Salvador

We would not gather
at nights for weddings
After sunset we stayed inside
Afraid of shootings, or being kidnapped
Eighty thousand people died
El Salvador, El Salvador, El Salvador

My oldest daughter was a student
They barged into her classroom
She sought asylum in Minnesota
To Eden Prairie we soon did move
El Salvador, El Salvador, El Salvador

When I ask God for guidance
God is there to hear my plea
My children’s homes are now my home
My grandchildren care for me
El Salvador, El Salvador, El Salvador

Words by LARRY LONG with Mona Hanson’s 6th grade class of Oak Point Intermediate School (Minneapolis, Minnesota)
© Larry Long 2004 / BMI

Listen: El Salvador