The SHARE Blog

Settling into Flexibility

March 23, 2015

The Northwest School in Seattle sends a delegation of high school students each year to learn about the reality of El Salvador. John Leslie, one of this year’s delegates writes of his first experience in NWS’s sistering community of Husisilapa.

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Students walk through the area around Husisilapa

Today we loaded up the bus and were on our way to Husisilapa. After about an hour of joyous singing we rolled up next to the Husisilapa plaza. As our bus approached I realized that the people in the village were just as excited about our arrival as we were. It was all smiles as they stopped whatever they were doing to welcome us into their community.

After a short and unorganized game of both soccer and basketball, we were lead to our homes for the night by a member of our host family. My roomies for the night were Mateo and Josh, and we were lead away from the rest of the group to a house that was further removed from the center than many of the other homes. When we arrived we were greeted by Marisol, who was our host mother, her brother Adan, her mother, her cousin, her daughter, her father, and three other people whose affiliation was somewhat ambiguous to me. The sentence preceding this symbolizes the skittishness of my last hours, and is meant to reflect the adventure that occurred and the go go go attitude.

Marisol led us into a room with two beds. Josh Mateo and I were ready to improvise and push the beds together and sleep width wise in order to accommodate all of us. But to our surprise as we returned from meeting with the community council they had moved all of our belongings into a different room that had three beds; one for each of us.

After eating a good amount of food that we were specifically advised not to my spirits were high due to the fact that I was still feeling 100% and ready to get some shuteye.

… It is about 4 a.m. now and cacophonies of farm noises have prevented me to fall asleep. Although I have not been able to sleep all that well due to the heat and the noise, I still feel energized as I open our room door to see Marisol smiling while holding her daughter.


Delegate Spotlight: Silvia

March 17, 2015

Our blog series, Delegate Spotlight, feature past participants from SHARE’s major delegations. A delegate is someone who travels with a group (delegation) to El Salvador to learn about the history, politics, and people to better accompany the Salvadoran people. Interested in becoming a SHARE delegate? Check out our major delegation page for information on the upcoming Romero Delegation in March!  – See more at: http://www.share-elsalvador.org/delegations/major-delegations 

Spotlight on: Silvia Ramos, presently lives in San Francisco and is originally from Argentina

Major SHARE delegation experience:

I was part of CARECEN San Francisco’s delegation in March 2014 for the Presidential runoff.

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Why did you decide to participate in SHARE’s major delegation?
I was invited by SHARE and CARECEN SF as an International Observer.

What did you gain from the experience? 

Although I had participated in my country several times in this process –in Argentina voting is mandatory for citizens from 18 years old- I never expected such a commitment and passion of elders to be part of the voting process and young Salvadoran citizens volunteering to have everything done right.

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What was the most memorable part of the trip? 

Precisely, a 95 years old woman who was brought in a wheel chair by her son, a 52 years old man, who told me: She was ready to come before the sun rises; she won’t miss this opportunity to finally be part of this historical moment!

What was your favorite part of the experience? 

The entire visit was emotional and a learning experience. Also, being my first time in El Salvador I have to recognize every meal was delicious and people warmly welcoming us. I felt I was almost at home.

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What would you say to those thinking about joining one of SHARE’s major delegations? 

Please, do not doubt to be part of such amazing experience!

How does your experience continue to inspire you in your work/life/passions today?
I have a passion for Social Justice. This experience enhanced and reinforced my believe that civil participation can make a difference. We encourage participants of our programs to be part as little or big they can, in exercising their right to claim for what they deserve, where ever they are, to improve their lives and the community, promoting this way equity and justice.


Delegate Reflection: Scars

March 14, 2015

Drew Theological Seminary visited El Salvador in January for a two week Cross Cultural Experience where they met with various community and church leaders to learn about and analyze the Salvadoran reality. Chelsea Jackson, one of the students on the trip wrote the following reflection. 

Scars.  We bear them on our bodies, our hearts, and at times our collective soul.  As one who has obtained many scars over my life, some more visible than others, Sister Peggy’s call to acknowledge and proudly bear the scars entrusted to us by El Salvador was like a call to continue proclaiming the messiness of life.  And boy did I gain some scars.  I gained scars with each community we visited, as new relationships were forged through mutuality.  I gained scars as I met with political activists calling for greater recognition of the humanness, power and potential of the Salvadoran people.  I gained scars as I climbed mountains, stayed in hospitable homes and met with organizations who sought to empower the disenfranchised.

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While obtaining all of these scars on my memory and spirit, I also became keenly aware of the tension I was witnessing throughout the trip.  A social tension that at times threatened to snap like an overstretched rubber band. I saw tension in the shopping malls and poverty stricken communities that were separated by nothing more than a road, yet they might as well have been continents apart.  I saw tension in the threat of gang violence and systems of scarcity and shame youth are expected to thrive in.  I saw tension in political parties calling for either radical individualism or radical collectivism.  I saw tension in the beautiful mountains I climbed, that had at one time been massacre sites.  I saw tension in a country trying to strive for a United States inspired capitalism that doesn’t even work well within the states, let alone developing countries.  I saw all of these tensions, all of these contradictions in the systems, people and country of El Salvador.  And these contradictions, while at times disheartening, were also exhilarating.  Because these contradictions do not only exist in El Salvador, they exist in the human condition, in the condition of the earth.  And if we are brave, we can learn from them like we can learn from each other.

In preparing for my trip to El Salvador, I knew I was not going to “save” anyone (whatever that means).  I knew I would not be building a school or a well, or teaching a Bible study.  Instead, I went to learn.  To soak in a history, reality and hoped for future, and let all the tensions, contradictions, joys and sorrows become like scars on my heart.  Scars that in some small way I collectively share with the Salvadoran people.


The Silent Path to Sainthood: Padre Rutilio Grande

March 12, 2015

“I fear that if Jesus entered the country crossing the border in Chalatenango, they wouldn’t let him pass. There by Apopa they’d detain him…
They’d accuse him of being a revolutionary.”
-Father Rutilio Grande, February 1977

Our dear Monseñor Oscar Romero has been receiving a lot of well deserved attention lately. Today we want to remember the other man on the pathway to sainthood who is equally deserving of international praise. Father Rutilio Grande was martyred 38 years ago today.  It is widely held that if not for his death, Romero may never have become the international symbol for truth and justice that he is today.

Rutilio Grande

Photo Credit: http://www.seniorreligion.com/new_page_248.htm

Father Rutilio Grande, ordained in the order of the Jesuits in 1959, served the parish of Aguilares from 1972 until his death in 1977.  He attributed to the formation and organization of numerous Base Christian Communities, which would later become some of the major players in the armed conflict of the 1980s. Grande preached the importance of basic human rights. Many of the people in the area surrounding Aguilares did not have legal ownership over the land on which they lived and worked. Grande, with the organization of the Base Christian Communities, struggled alongside the people to gain access to their right to the space of earth they called home. This nonviolent act, however, caused alarm amongst the ruling military regime. Father Rutilio became marked as an inciter of civil unrest, endangering the “peace” and status quo of the country.

Read More »


SHARE (Your) Inspiration: Anabell

March 7, 2015


Making it Happen: New Women’s Formation and Entrepreneurial School

March 5, 2015

International Women’s Day, March 8th, is a world-wide recognition of the role of women in politics, business, and social achievements of yesterday, today, and tomorrow. In many countries, the day is observed as a national holiday much like Mother’s Day where loved ones shower the women in their lives with gifts.  In all corners of the Earth, events, programs, conferences, etc. take place to demonstrate international solidarity in the shared struggle for gender equality and equity in all sectors of society.

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Women gathered from both Lourdes Colon and Tecoluca for the School’s launching.

The theme of this year’s international celebration of womanhood is “Make It Happen,” meaning that gender equality and opportunity in the work force can only happen if women organize and demand that it be a reality. Here in El Salvador, CRIPDES is “making it happen” with the launching of their newest women’s empowerment initiative. On February 25, hundreds of women of all ages crowded a bakery in Lourdes Colon for the inauguration of The Women’s Formation and Entrepreneurial School. This new project will provide 200 women with the educational tools to start their own small business initiatives. Located in Tecoluca, San Vicente and Lourdes Colon, La Libertad, students will attend workshops throughout March and April in order to gain the necessary skills to implement and develop successful businesses.  Set themes include: Gender and Self Esteem in the Work Force, Life Cycles of Business, Business Woman: You are Not Alone, Business Administration, and Problem Solving in Your Business, among others. Read More »


Delegate Spotlight: Darryl

March 3, 2015

Our blog series, Delegate Spotlight, feature past participants from SHARE’s major delegations. A delegate is someone who travels with a group (delegation) to El Salvador to learn about the history, politics, and people to better accompany the Salvadoran people. Interested in becoming a SHARE delegate? Check out our major delegation page for information on the upcoming Romero Delegation in March!  – See more at: http://www.share-elsalvador.org/delegations/major-delegations

Spotlight on: Darryl Moore from Berkeley, CA

Major Delegation Experience: The Election Observation Delegation, Jan. 2014 – Feb. 2014

Why did you decide to participate in SHARE’s major delegation?

I wanted to see participatory democracy in action.  I wanted to serve as an election observer to make sure the election in El Salvador was done as fairly as possible, at least in the places I observed. El Salvadore.3 Also, I wanted to visit the country that has ties to Berkeley and our former Mayor Gus Newport.  To see the beautiful country and meet the Salvadorans who in recent history had changed the lives of its citizens for greater equality and to see and witness their struggle for justice, economic grow, and liberty.

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What was the most memorable part of the trip?

Visiting the LGBT Center in San Salvador was one of the most memorable parts of my trip.  Meeting with the LGBT community and hearing their stories of inequality, persecution, discrimination, and violence directed at them for being who they are was deeply emotional for me as a gay man serving in the Berkeley City Council.  At the same time, I was encouraged by their spirit and commitment to make things better in their country for Lesbians, Gays and Transgendered Women and Men.  Many of them were on the front-lines fighting for equality, the right to vote, the right to health care, jobs, housing, and just to be treated fairly and like everyone else.  I was so touched by their fight for social justice that I came back to Berkeley and sponsored legislation calling on the Berkeley City Council to support the work of the LGBT Community in El Salvador in asking the government to recognize the LGBT Community in its constitution and to bring about Equality for all LGBT People living in El Salvador.  I worked very closely with SHARE in drafting the resolution that passed the Council unanimously.

What was your favorite part of the experience?

Meeting the people of El Salvador and hearing their stories was one of my favorite parts about my trip to El Salvador.  Hearing the sad stories from the Mothers who lost their husbands and sons during the revolution and getting no real help or restitution from the various governments broke my heart.  El Salvadore.2Hearing the stories of the Priests, Nuns, and Peaceful Volunteers that were brutalized and killed fighting for peace and the rights of the people was shocking and disturbing.  Watching folks line up early in the morning, hours before the polls would open, to vote in the Presidential Election was inspiring.  Watching teenagers helping the senior Salvadorians into the polling place and the seriousness and dedication everyone showed towards the voting process made me wish if only American’s took their right to vote as seriously.


Delegate Reflection: Community Despite Capitalism

February 26, 2015

Drew Theological Seminary visited El Salvador in January for a two week Cross Cultural Experience where they met with various community and church leaders to learn about and analyze the Salvadoran reality. Dana Gill, one of the students on the trip wrote the following reflection.
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My return from El Salvador seems like a lifetime ago, and yet I’ve only been back in the states for a month. While part of it all feels a little bit like a dream, there are certainly scars left on my heart from my trip down there. On our last day down there, we were told to think of our elevator pitch – what would we be saying to people when we get back about what we learned? I’ve thought about it, and I’m not sure I could sum it up into a few short statements, and yet I seem to be at a loss as to what to say when people ask me, “How was your trip? The pictures look amazing!” All I can every seem to respond with is, “Oh my gosh. So amazing,” because how do I put into words the things that I experienced, and the physical overwhelm and awe of interacting with the people there?

Read More »


Empowerment in Baking

February 24, 2015

In El Paisnal, women organized themselves with the support of UCRES so that they could receive training in running a bakery.  “La Exquistita” (The Exquisite), opened up three years ago employing 7 women. Five women work from 5:30am-4:oopm baking all of the sweet and savory breads; then two women sell the bread to the local eateries and also door to door. The bakery brings in $100 daily. This money is divided into purchases, earnings, and savings. When SHARE staff visited this past Friday, Lilian and Rosa Maria were hard at work making so many treats, many pictured here!

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Hope for the Environment: Elections 2015

February 19, 2015

Yesterday, February 19th, the Environmental Alliance, a coalition of anti-mining, food sovereignty, and water protection organizing bodies, invited legislative candidates across all parties to take part in a forum in front of civil citizens.  However, only Blandino Nerio (FMLN-National Liberation Front Farabundo Martí), Nery Diaz (FMLN), and Blaudilio Ventura (PSD-Social Democratic Party), all from the left side of the political spectrum, presented themselves.

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Candidates (L-R) Ventura, Nerio, and Diaz

Before the candidates promulgated their platforms, members of the Alliance gave an overview of the current environmental situation in El Salvador. Due to the country’s location, El Salvador is victim to numerous natural disasters such as volcanos, hurricanes, and earthquakes. However, global climate change augments all of these natural forces, which has been cause for much concern in recent years. This past year’s drought when the prices of beans increased 100%, calls attention directly to the severe environmental threats that El Salvador faces.

The Anti-Mining Coalition highlighted the current and proposed mining sites around the country. The business jeopardizes the remaining 10% of El Salvador’s treatable water source. The Water Coalition expressed their concern that the Salvadoran people do not have the right to access, however small, that portion of potable water.

All members of the Environmental Alliance demanded that the law to protect and prevent natural threats along with the constitutional reform of Article 69 which would guarantee the sovereignty of food and water be approved by the legislature. Both initiatives have spent years in congress and are running out of time before they expire.

When it came time for the candidates to respond with their platforms, it became obvious that all present were playing for the same team: the environment. Nerio, of the FMLN, cited all of the past actions that the FMLN took to protect the environment and to curb climatic changes. He said, “As you can all see, this isn’t a new issue for us to support. However, if there is no mobilization in the streets, we aren’t going to achieve anything.”

Diaz, also from the FMLN, has worked tirelessly as a member of the Legislative Assembly’s Environmental and Climate Change Commission. She promised to continue to dedicate her time in the legislature to fight for the protection of all of El Salvador’s natural resources.

Ventura (PSD) echoed this same message of being with the people in their struggle. He enthusiastically declared, “We are not in favor of the privatization of water or food. Water should be a public good. We are in favor of the people and the environment.” Ventura promised that not even one vote would be cast for the furthered degradation of the environment.

Although, a lack of diverse ideologies were present, the overwhelming enthusiasm that all panel members exhibited gave all those in the audience hope for real action surrounding the environment and climate change to come soon.

 


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