The SHARE Blog

35th anniversary of the martyrdom of Ita Ford, Maura Clarke, Dorothy Kazel, and Jean Donovan

May 15, 2015

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Dear brothers and sisters,

SHARE El Salvador and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, LCWR are inviting you to help us organize the 35th anniversary delegation to El Salvador to celebrate the lives of Ita, Maura, Dorothy, Jean, Carla and all the martyrs. Delegation dates: November 28 to December 5.

We invite you go to El Salvador with us and to share the attached flyer and letter of invitation with your friends and network. We are also attaching an application. Please email us and or call us with any questions. http://www.share-elsalvador.org/about/contact-us

Help us remember them, help us continue with their spirit of struggle for peace with justice.

Ita, Maura, Dorothy and Jean, PRESENTE, PRESENTE, PRESENTE, PRESENTE!

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Keep alive the spirit of these 4 women by making a gift to SHARE so that we may
continue working toward economic sustainability, justice, and human and civil rights.

 

 


Food and Water: Human Rights? Not yet.

April 30, 2015

As April comes to a close, so does a hotly debated issue. The amendment to Article 69, that would define food and water as human rights, failed in El Salvador’s Legislative Assembly. But not all hope is lost.

Right to food and water

“Endow the constitution for the right to water and food”

According to data from the National Board of Food and Nutritional Security (CONASAN), 900,000 people in El Salvador are undernourished and 1.5 million people have no access to clean water. What is being done to solve this problem?

In 2012, the Legislative Assembly passed a reform to Article 69 of El Salvador’s constitution which seeks to guarantee both food and clean water as human rights, with the objective to provide an adequate life to every person. This reform needs ratification from the Legislative Assembly to become binding. The current Legislative Assembly, which is coming to an end, failed to ratify this reform.
This amendment would pave the way for further policies to protect food and water. It has been considered a vital starting point for this process.
This matter is now in the hands of the 2015-2018 Legislative Assembly. Good news may come soon.

Delegate Reflection: What to share?

April 20, 2015

The Northwest School from Seattle sent 22 students and 5 teachers to El Salvador at the end of March to learn about El Salvador and commemorate the life of Oscar Romero. One of the students reflects on how to share the experience.

From the very beginning of the trip, I have been thinking about what I wanted to share with the Northwest School community. I have been wondering since we arrived what we will take back to Seattle.

We have learned so much about the damages of the wealth gap in El Salvador, and a government overly influenced by U.S. interests during our time here. However, it is so easy to take ourselves out of the equation. It’s hard to ask ourselves what role we play not only in El Salvador but also back in the United States.

First, we have learned of our country’s participation in oppression of the many people living in poverty in El Salvador in favor of economic interests. We must take that information and understand our influence to our government. As students who have been graciously given the painful stories of the people we have met here, we have a responsibility to take this information with us and share it with others.

On another level, we live in a country with an ever growing wealth gap and many people in power who have more interest in corporations than the majority of the population. I cannot speak for my peers, but I would love to remain educated about my country’s participation globally and how I can pressure my government to keep the interests of the people of the world over those of large corporations.

Lastly, understand that most of my peers and myself come from positions of privilege in regards to education and wealth and our U.S. citizenship. This is, in my opinion, the most important way we must acknowledge our place in the equation. Many of us were incredibly lucky to be born at the top of the equation. I most certainly do not have the answers on how we must begin to even reflect on this or begin to give power back. None the less, I urge my peers and those who have read what we have shared to think harder about our role and our responsibility.

To read more reflections by Northwest students, check out their blog: http://www.northwestschool.org/blog/nws-correspondence-2015

 


Delegate Spotlight: Dan

April 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 Churchwomen Commemoration Delegation in December!  – See more at: http://www.share-elsalvador.org/delegations/major-delegations/2015-church-women-commemoration-delegation

Spotlight On: Dan Kasun

SHARE Delegation Experience: 2014 delegate with St. Elizabeth Ann Seton from Wisconsin

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

I’d like to say something briefly about the value of the SHARE experience. The incredible experience that a person receives on a SHARE delegation is a earthy-grass roots feeling that stays with you long after the trip is over. The relationships that you will gain through interactions on these trips will shape your future dreams through a heart-felt approach, a desire to connect to the close knit communities which struggle for dignity and subsistence living. These communities are so gracious, loving, humble, and accepting  in a very gracious manner; far from the business driven culture of the western world. They will want to share the little that they have with you. As you listen more to their stories of hardships (and believe me, they will share them), you will realize how they are so personally challenge, in physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual ways… but yet they are happy and their faith is so strong. If you haven’t felt challenged before, the way you may grow in your thinking will never be the same again. You will feel that change in heart and wow…it’s great!

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Why did you decide to participate in a SHARE delegation? 

So what makes SHARE so special that I wanted to be a part of it? We have a sister parish in Rutilio Grande, El Salvador, named Lady of Guadalupe and the SHARE staff provided the on-ground presence with all the logistics, agenda, transportation, accommodations, and safety to experience life of our brothers in sisters from a whole new perspective. SHARE has taken us to different parts of the country to experience projects like the women’s cooperative ranch farming project and sustainable farming projects as shown below. The approach they have with serving the country of El Salvador is holistic, both in direction of empowering women and youth, ensuring the rights of all, (especially the rural poorer communities), preserving the history of El Salvador, supporting sustainable processes such as organic farming, providing coordination between regional (e.g., UCRES) and national (CRIPDES) efforts to reduce violence, and providing support with addressing educational needs to improve and strengthen communities. SHARE leverages this grassroots support through the accompaniment of delegation groups like ours at Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton in New Berlin, Wisconsin. How could you not be inspired to be involved with an organization that does all of that??

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Oscar Romero’s Inspiring Message

April 15, 2015

While thousands of people were celebrating in the life of Monsignor Oscar Romero in El Salvador during the week of March 24th, there were also thousands of people celebrating all over the world. Libby Hyde, a 2014 SHARE delegate from Kansas City, was also commemorating Monsignor Romero with her community. She shares with us here now about Romero and words from Father Abel who visited Kansas City during the Romero celebrations.

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Kansas City Romero Committee with Father Abel. Together to commemorate Romero in March 2015.

 

“I am bound, as a pastor, by divine command to give my life for those whom I love, and that is all Salvadorans, even those who are going to kill me.”

These words of Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador, El Salvador, appeared in a newspaper article just two weeks before he was shot and killed while celebrating the Eucharist during mass in 1980.

Romero was an active supporter of those who were totally marginalized and disenfranchised in Salvadoran society. He consistently spoke out against the Salvadoran government during the civil war because the basic human rights of Salvadorans everywhere were violated with impunity. In many cases during the war, many civilians El Salvador were “disappeared”, tortured or murdered. Parents feared for their children’s lives and for their own. Salvadoran life was consumed with the uncertainty of strife in times of war.

As an influential leader of the Church in El Salvador and inspired by his good friend Rutilio Grande, Romero encouraged the people of El Salvador to stand up for their own basic rights. Romero gained a steady following of Salvadorans who were influenced by his message as he hosted a weekly radio show on the archdiocesan channel and preached regularly about the situation in El Salvador. He frequently used his position of power within the Church to provide a voice for those who could not express their own injustices. He soon came to be known as the “voice of the voiceless.”

As he grew more outspoken in his defense of the poor, his message threatened the military government’s control over the country. He was assassinated while saying mass at Divina Providencia in San Salvador.

Romero’s outstanding courage in the face of death and his unyielding support for the poor has since earned him a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize. Pope Francis also formally declared in February that Romero was a martyr for the Catholic faith, and his beatification is expected in May, just 35 years after his martyrdom. Though this is the Vatican’s first movement toward sainthood for Romero, he has long been considered a saint by many people across the world.

This news of Romero’s impending beatification also resonates particularly with Good Shepherd, who has had a relationship with El Buen Pastor since 1987. This relationship has inspired many travelers to El Salvador to continue to carry Romero’s message. It has also inspired our community to dedicate our chapel as the Romero Chapel.

Padre Abel Castañeda, the pastor of San Julian Obispo Parish in Sonsonate in El Salvador who was baptized by Oscar Romero, visited Kansas City this month. He described Romero with 4 common characteristics: a good Christian, a good priest, a good bishop, and a good shepherd.

“Before Romero’s death, the reality of El Salvador was marked by many social injustices,” Padre Abel said.” Romero saw all of this reality. He was a prophet. He talked in the name of God to the people with the word of the gospel, illuminating the people with the hope that God can change things for them. Thirty-five years later, we have made many changes, and slowly, we have been able to see them. We hope for a grand miracle that the beatification and canonization can continue these changes.”

Padre Abel said that 35 years after Romero’s death, Romero continues to teach the meaning of resurrection to those who want to know him and those who do know him.

“My stay here in Kansas City confirms this,” Padre Abel said. “I give thanks for this. There are many people who aren’t Salvadoran who know and love Romero just like Salvadorans do.”

Inspired by Monsignor Ricardo Urioste of the Archdiocese in San Salvador who was a colleague and close friend of Romero, Padre Abel also reasoned with the effects of Romero’s courage to speak truth to power.

“Romero is a man much hated and much loved,” Padre Abel reasoned. “Those who hate him are those who do not love justice. Those who love Romero love the poor… those are the people that love truth and justice.”

 

Did your community do something to celebrate Romero? Send pictures and reflections to delegations@share-elsalvador.org!


Delegate Reflection: Perspectives

April 13, 2015

The Northwest School from Seattle sent 22 students and 5 teachers to El Salvador at the end of March to learn about El Salvador and commemorate the life of Oscar Romero. One of the students shares her reflection about day 7, the halfway point of the trip.

This morning, after a breakfast of pancakes and what my table mates thought was syrup but turned out to be honey (and in all the commotion we missed the fact that there actually was syrup and it was just on the other far end of the table) we boarded the bus headed for Los Planes. Driving to what our schedule described as “Truth and Dignity Event with ProMemoria and United Nations” I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I knew that to attend this meeting would be a huge privilege and this made me as equally nervous as I was excited to be a part of such a serious and important topic.

However, never having been to an assembly like this before, I had no idea what to envision. Would there be a sea of people? How would they regard us? Would there be a bathroom close to where I might be sitting? Would there be a formal chance for Lena and I (who were scheduled to introduce today) to speak? I was definitely nervous about that. Upon getting there, however, all of my internal dialogue faded. A sign that read “Asamblea de Víctimas” was hung above a stage decorated with potted plants with pink flowers. Rows of folding chairs facing the stage were already filled with people and the shutters on the windows were wide open, letting the day’s sunshine inside the brightly painted room. Taped to the podium was a poster of Monseñor Romero. As we walked further into the room and I began to look closer at the faces of those already in seats and at the schedule of speakers that was projected on a screen in the front of the room, I realized that here in this space there was no room for every little thought about my own comfort because today my mind would be busy drinking in everything around me. I was there to observe, take notes, and participate when the activities called for it.

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We took our seats and the speakers began. The first official speaker, David Morales, said something that set the tone for me for the rest of the day. He asked everyone in the room to examine what is it that is truly motivating us. I asked myself, what am I motivated by? Why exactly am I here? However, before I could really answer these questions, another curious voice in my head wondered how the other people in the room might answer this question. Just as my mind kept switching between the English translation being whispered through a hearing device and the Spanish I was hearing being spoken, throughout t11013080_10153204119649301_2529914457558232498_nhe different speakers I kept switching in between my own point-of-view and trying to imagine the different perspectives of others in the room. In short, I soon realized, I quite simply could not imagine the experience and mindset of those who were sitting just beside me. Those whose relatives have been disappeared. I realized I had to come at all of this with my own experience. A perspective, of course, that was open and welcoming to the testimony of others, but that could only truly analyze itself.

All of this was what I was caught up thinking about before we took a break for lunch. Before we could eat, though, we were told to think of a person who has passed away and who inspires us, in order to then share with small groups when we returned. Once again, I grew very nervous about what I was going to say, how I would be received, and got very caught up in the details and logistics of the activity.

Even while we stopped for Ice Cream (Thank you! :)) I was still preoccupied. Yet, when we returned and got sorted into small groups of about six in my group’s case, again, all of my inner dialogue was silenced by the power of the stories in the room.

My own group consisted of five Salvadoran women who pulled me over to gather in a corner of the room in a small circle of folding chairs. I was the only one from the whole Romero delegation and the only one who spoke English. One the women whose name is Sophia took charge. She began to speak to me in Spanish for a while, then realized I might not understand her and asked me if I spoke Spanish. I was so excited and honored to be in such an intimate moment with just the five of them and also to exercise my Spanish skills, I decided to just try to understand what they were saying. I told her I only speak “un poquito” of Spanish, but I understand much more than I can speak and I would try as best I could to understand without the use of a translator. At first I was under the impression that each of us would go around in the circle and share the person we had picked, their name, and a gift they had given us, as the activity had been explained to us, but Sophia had a different plan.

“Look, she is one of the youth,” she said. “We’ll go around and tell her just a little bit about each of our people. It’s important for the youth to know. Go around and say a little about your person and how they fit into the larger struggle,” she told the women.

Each woman nodded and then the woman to the left began. Halfway into her story I realized that I wasn’t translating her words in my head, but most of them were just registering without me even trying to understand them and those that didn’t quite stick didn’t distract from the main idea of what she was saying. Throughout each testimony, not one of the women and I broke eye contact.

They each passionately related their stories to me, digging to the depths of their memory for some and into some very fresh memories for others. I cannot successfully nor thoroughly describe the amount of gratitude and privilege I felt that here I was, an American student who spent the entire morning not knowing any of these women, being trusted with their stories. More than that, they were able to tell it to me in their own language and I was able to understand them. I was never asked for a person of my own and for that I was grateful because I had entirely forgotten about that part while I had been listening to them.

Though I never actually cried I began to feel quite emotional and soon I felt tears gather behind my eyes making them heavier. All of a sudden the room erupted into loud chatter of everyone preparing for the next part to the day. However, throughout the rest of the activity as the night grew darker and throughout our dinner and reflection with our smaller groups, I remained in awe of the courage and trust I had witnessed in my small group and of each person who had shared their memories that day.

To read more reflections by Northwest students, check out their blog: http://www.northwestschool.org/blog/nws-correspondence-2015


Romero’s Legacy: 35 Years Later

March 27, 2015

“We cannot remain quiet in such an unjust world.”

The last week has drawn thousands of people together from around the world to honor the 35th anniversary of the assassination of Monseñor Oscar Romero. From marches to forums to meals shared, the silence of injustice was broken and Romero’s Legacy of Truth, Justice, and Peace lived on in a very tangible, inspiring way.

“We suffer with those who have disappeared, those who have had to flee their homes, and those who have been tortured.”

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Attendees passing the candle of hope

Over the weekend, victims of forced disappearance from all over El Salvador gathered to construct a list of demands for the Legislative Assembly to present at Monday’s forum. Among those demands, victims requested mental and physical health attention, social aid packets, and recognition of their loved ones as disappeared. The path of restorative justice is long and difficult; however, the mothers and family members of El Salvador’s disappeared are determined to see justice in their lifetimes.

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NWS students visit the school in Husisilapa

“There is much that the United States has to offer El Salvador, but there is just as much that El Salvador has to offer the United States. Together, we can develop the approach that will be needed to assure that the economic, social, and political futures of both El Salvador and the United States are humane and progressive.”

The Northwest School delegates demonstrated their dedication to Romero’s legacy of solidarity. Students eagerly took part in miles-long marches, a symbolic restorative justice ceremony, and cultural exchanges with their sistering community. It became clear that the peoples of the US and of El Salvador have so much to learn from one another.

“Each one of you must be God’s microphone, each one of you must be a messenger, a prophet.”

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Father Roy

In the School of the Americas (SOA) Watch Forum on Tuesday, Father Roy Bourgeois, founder of the SOA Watch, reminded us of Romero’s call for all of us to be microphones for the voices of the poor. Father Roy challenged those in attendance to “use our voices to create more equality and justice in this world.” Whether we stand in solidarity in El Salvador or in Fort Benning, Georgia, or perhaps write to congressional representatives to close the assassins’ training school or find our own passion that will make this world more just, we are to fulfil Romero’s challenge and sew the seeds of love and peace.

“Peace is not the product of terror or fear. Peace is not the silence of cemeteries. Peace is not the silent result of violent repression. Peace is the generous, tranquil contribution of all to the good of all. Peace is dynamism. Peace is generosity. It is right and it is duty.”

The national government declared Thursday, March 26 the Day for Life, Peace, and Justice to reaffirm its dedication to the eradication of the violence that plagues the country. Tens of thousands of people marched in all corners of El Salvador demanding that real steps be taken to construct a culture of true peace where all citizens are guaranteed their right to personal security.

“I shall rise again in the Salvadoran people.”

Truer words could not have been spoken. Monseñor Romero was one man, but his legacy lives on with millions of men, women, youth, and children worldwide. We at SHARE are humbled to walk on the same sacred ground with the same inspiring people responding to the same call of justice as this international emblem of truth. May we all continue to find ways to remember and respond to Monseñor Romero’s call in our everyday lives. ¡Que viva el santo de América! ¡Que viva Romero!


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.


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