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Married at 15, he collects blood clams for $5 a day to make ends meet

José Francisco Ramos, 23, starts his day as a curilero at dawn to avoid the unbearable sun and the mosquitos, which get more aggressive as the day goes on.

  • 1 month ago
  • January 1, 2023
1 min read

LA PAZ, El Salvador — They are called the curileros – young people who spend hours in El Salvador’s hot, dark, mosquito-filled swamps searching for curiles. Collecting the blood clams, they walk barefoot in the mud, often enduring deep wounds on the soles of their feet.

This tourist spot, recognized for its beautiful beaches 30 meters above sea level, remains home to more than 1,000 inhabitants. José Francisco Ramos, 23, starts his day as a curilero at dawn to avoid the unbearable sun and the mosquitos, which get more aggressive as the day goes on. He works hard in the mangrove, collecting about 100 shells a day worth $5 to $10. The money helps feed his family.

Read more stories from El Salvador at Orato World Media.

José comes from a family dedicated to fishing for their livelihood. He married very young, six years ago at the age of 15. Today, he must earn a living for his own family.

Most of the population in the region lives off the land – fishing or collecting shells in the mangroves. The sea offers their primary source of income. Most young people here do not think about continuing their studies because the need to work is much more important to them.

All photographs by Beatriz Rivas.

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