The SHARE Blog

Fruit Trees for a Sustainable Future

September 19, 2013


Dozens of children, one thousand fruit trees, and a whole lot of dirt made for one very messy Tuesday afternoon at the El Maneadero School in the southern region of La Paz, El Salvador. Why all the commotion? SHARE’s partnering organization, CONFRAS, was teaching children, their parents, and teachers to plant and care for their new school yard orchard.

With the generosity of our donors SHARE supports communities in El Salvador to combat childhood hunger by providing funding for students, parents, and teachers to plant 1,000 fruit trees.

Why are these trees so important? According to the World Bank over 40% of children in El Salvador are undernourished and children in rural areas are twice as likely to suffer from malnutrition as children in urban centers.  These breadnut, or “ojushte”, trees produce nuts that are rich in calcium, protein, and vitamin B.

In addition to these important nutrients the parents and students who learn to care for these trees gain valuable skills that can help them start orchards of their own.

“(Breadnut trees) are important because we need to always be thinking about climate change and food alternatives–not just for humans, but for animals too,” Explains Salvador Castillo, one of the agricultural technicians for CONFRAS, “The leaves (of the breadnut tree) can be a source of food for livestock.”

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NO MORE VIOLENCE- September 11th Caravan against Military Intervention in Syria

September 16, 2013


Photo taken at the Caravan protest against U.S. Military Intervention in Syria this past Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013
Photo taken at the Caravan protest against U.S. Military Intervention in Syria this past Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013

Since President Barack Obama´s controversial announcement that he would seek congress´s approval for a targeted military strike on Syria in response to the use of chemical weapons against civilians, people around the world have lifted a call for peace. In El Salvador, communities, churches, NGOs, universities and activists have organized a variety of actions in solidarity with the people of Syria and against military intervention, including a caravan in protest of military intervention on September 11th.

The Salvadoran people suffered a brutal, twelve-year long civil war, prolonged and intensified by an average of one million dollars per day in United States military aid . The horrible atrocities  civilians suffered left wounds the government has done little to address and people still struggle to heal. Many victims continue to speak out for truth, justice and reparations. The horrors of war and the impacts of U.S. intervention compel many Salvadorans to protest military interventions as well as to act for peace.

Activities to express solidarity with those suffering in Syria have included prayer services at many churches, from the UCA Chapel to the Crypt in the Cathedral, to the Emmanuel Baptist Church, t.v. and radio interviews, discussions led by professors on the effects and ideals of a “war for peace,” a Eucharist followed by a brief discussion, an ecumenical ceremony of prayer held by the Palestinian community, and the aforementioned caravan protest.

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“Literacy is both a challenge and something we owe to our people”: International Day for Literacy

September 12, 2013

On September 8th, the Salvadoran Ministry of Education celebrated the International Day of Literacy at an event highlighting the success of the National Literacy Campaign. This initiative has reduced illiteracy in El Salvador from 18% to 12% and will continue promoting literacy until at least February of next year.

Angelica Paniagua, National Literacy Coordinator

Angelica Paniagua, National Literacy Coordinator

Angelica Paniagua, the national director for the literacy campaign addressed the crowd of hundreds of volunteers involved in the campaign. “Illiteracy is a challenge that all of El Salvador will face until completely resolved.  Because until all of our adults, youth and children can read and write, we will not have justice and freedom,” expounded Paniagua, “Literacy is both a challenge and a something we owe to our people. It is a means of communication, social expression and it is a part of our culture.”

During the event, an older woman from La Palma, Chalatenango shared her story of learning to read and write. “My goal has always been to become a teacher.  But first I needed to learn how to read and write.  I am so thankful for the classes I have received.  Someday I will reach my goal,” she read with pride. Another guest at the table of honor was a fourteen-year old volunteer. He is responsible for teaching forty-six adults in La Hermita, San Miguel. Not only did he express how committed he is to the literacy campaign, but most importantly to his community.  “The best part is hearing their stories.  If we are an educated community, it is less difficult to trick us,” he said.   Read More »

New Women’s Attention Center: Transforming Police’s Treatment of Women

September 7, 2013

1236715_10151845782219301_1624469749_nThis morning in Apopa, ORMUSA, the United Nations, USAID, and the National Civilian Police (PNC), inaugurated the fifth UNIMUJER (Women´s Attention Unit) in El Salvador. This unit will give special attention to women and their children who are victims of violence in the northern part of San Salvador. Six Apopa PNC members have been specifically trained to address these particular cases and the PNC as a whole is receiving training with regards to gender equality within the Salvadoran justice system.

The Special Law for a Life Free of Violence Against Women, passed November 25th, 2010 through the initiative of various women’s rights organizations, including ORMUSA in coordination with women legislators, requires various government institutions to install women’s attention units. ORMUSA helps provide training for a variety of government officials.SHARE has long supported ORMUSA (Organization of Salvadoran Women) and their push for holistic attention for women who are victims of violence and hate crimes.

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The Victims Call for a Day to Honor the Detained-Disappeared

September 4, 2013

Mesa Promemoria 

Friday August 30th, mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers with relatives detained and disappeared during the armed conflict gathered with representatives of the Pro-Historical Memory Commission (PROMEMORIA) at the Monument to Truth and Memory for a press conference to demand that the Legislative Assembly declare August 30th the National Day for the Victims of Enforced Disappearance. Since 1996, the member organizations of PROMEMORIA have advocated for a day in honor of the victims of forced disappearance, which was one of the recommendation of the 1993 Truth Commission Report. The first time a decree marking August 30th as the National Day of the Detained and Disappeared went to vote, one of the congresswomen from the ARENA party ripped the document to shreds in front of the victims and the entire Legislative Assembly.

Nevertheless, the victims continue forward with this lucha. The press conference, attended by a variety of media (see below for links to articles and an excerpt from the press release), was just one of several actions PROMEMORIA is taking to promote this moral reparation. They hope to meet with the Legislative Assembly Commission on Education and Culture in the next two weeks. We will continue to gather signatures for our petition to support them through the end of this week. Please sign and share!

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Community Dreamers

August 30, 2013

Alexandra and Yésica in front a painting of Father Rutilio Grande

Alexandra and Yésica in front of a painting of Father Rutilio Grande

SHARE El Salvador Solidarity Coordinator Sarah Hall recently had the opportunity to join the monthly assembly of SHARE High School Scholarship students in the UCRES region of Northern San Salvador. Students came together for dinámicas (ice breakers), discussion groups, and social analysis on an early Sunday morning.

Through this scholarship program twenty-two high school youth receive a monthly stipend to cover the cost of transportation, books, and school supplies and attend monthly workshops or assemblies where they discuss gender equality, violence prevention, and the national reality.

Students wake-up by playing dinámica (icebreaker)

Students wake-up by playing dinámicas (icebreakers)

SHARE sat down with two of these students, Yésica Arely Hernandez, age 16 from the community Ita Maura, and Alexandra Gonzalez Hernandez, age 18 from the community William Fuentes, to discuss their lives, goals, and experiences as high schoolers in Northern San Salvador.

It didn’t take long for both students to mention their experience with the violence in Northern San Salvador. Even with the gang truce they shared that many students still plan their schedules and activities to avoid being out of their communities after dark.

“When someone leaves the community, they don’t know if they’ll get home okay or if something might happen to them.  It’s a consequence of the insecurity,” Yésica explained.

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Former Military Leader, Inocente Montano, Sentenced to 21 months in U.S. Prison for Immigration Fraud

August 27, 2013

This morning, Ex-Salvadoran military leader, Inocente Orlando Montano, was sentenced to 21 months in U.S. prison on charges of immigration fraud. In September 2012, Montano pleaded guilty to six counts of immigration fraud and perjury for hiding his career as a Salvadoran military leader in order to obtain Temporary Protective Status, a humanitarian benefit for which he is not eligible. Montano´s sentencing hearing began on January 15th, 2013 and culminated in today´s sentence. The Center for Justice and Accountability dedicated months to bringing Inocente Montano´s involvement in human rights violations to bear in the case.

Inocente Orlando Montano- September 11, 2012

Inocente Orlando Montano- September 11, 2012

The 1993 U.N. Truth Commission Report named Montano as one of the main decision makers responsible for the murders of the six Jesuit Priests, housekeeper Elba Ramos, and her teenage daughter, Celina, at the Central American University in El Salvador (UCA). Montano was also the second in command of the Belloso Battalion, one of the units that participated in the 1982 massacre at El Calabozo where the Salvadoran military slaughtered over 200 children, women, and men.

In 2011, a Spanish court indicted Montano and 20 other army officials suspected as culprits in the murders of the priests Father Ignacio Ellacuría, Father Ignacio Martín-Baró, Father Segundo Montes, Father Armando López, Father Juan Ramon Moreno, Father Joaquin López, and Elba Ramos and Celina Ramos. Based on this indictment, Montano can still be extradited to Spain. A Spanish judge has already submitted a request to the U.S. government and a response is pending at the moment.

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Why should you go on a delegation?

August 18, 2013

UCC Salem delgates stand with El Socorro community members by the mural they painted together

UCC Salem delgates stand with El Socorro community members by the mural they painted together

“El Rosario was a metaphor of the country for me. There are bullet holes on the outside, but the inside is one of the most beautiful churches I have ever seen. It represents a hopeful Salvadoran people.” -Cretin Derham Hall high school delegate

This Summer, SHARE led six Grassroots sistering delegations to El Salvador. An important aspect of SHARE’s sistering delegations is the community homestay.  Delegates experience Salvadoran life in a rural setting, learning how to make tortillas, playing soccer, and visiting with families.  Both delegates and community members come away from the experience with a new appreciation of another culture, and lasting relationships.

CRIPDES San Vicente hosted two delegations during the month of June.  Students and teachers from Cretin-Derham Hall spent 3 glorious days in El Sector Volcán, playing soccer, learning about what it means to be an organized community, and dancing the night away.

“I have learned that war is always terrible. It is never the answer.”Cretin Derham Hall high school delegate

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Sign the Petition to Declare August 30th the Day of the Disappeared

August 15, 2013

Today, August 15th, 2013 we celebrate the birth of Oscar Arnulfo Romero, a man whose words and example continue to reverberate through El Salvador and the world. During his Sunday morning homilies as Archbishop, Monseñor Romero always gave voice to the names of the victims of forced disappearance each week. He spoke constantly for human rights, truth, justice, and love. He supported the COMADRES from the very beginning of their search for their disappeared loved ones.  The victims of human rights violations together with the organizations of the Pro-Historical Memory Commission continue to speak and act for justice today. One of the reparations they have called for since the 1990s is to have a day dedicated to the victims of forced disappearance, but they need our help to make it happen.

We invite YOU to take action in memory of Monseñor Romero: Sign a petition to call on the Salvadoran Legislative Assembly to declare August 30th the National Day of the Detained and Disappeared!


Declare August 30th The Day of the Victims of Forced Disappearance


168 signatures

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Reflections on Truth and Justice

August 8, 2013

The following post is written by Judy Swett, Associate of the Sisters of St. Joseph, Boston. Judy participated in the 2012 Honoring Women Religious Delegation to El Salvador and created and coordinated a committee to plan and host the Tour for Truth and Justice for El Salvador’s Disappeared during their time in Boston in Spring 2013. The committee greeted Marina, Patty, Eleazar (of Friends of COMADRES), and Bethany with Boston gift bags, were constantly prepared with water and envelopes, and had even done a trial run of the driving routes between events. Thank you, thank you, thank you to Judy and the entire Boston tour committee!

Patricia Garcia, Judy Swett, Bethany Loberg, Marina Ortiz, Sr. Lois Conner, Mary Rita Weschler, and Sister Claire Morrissey

Patricia Garcia, Judy Swett, Bethany Loberg, Marina Ortiz, Sr. Lois Conner, Mary Rita Weschler, and Sr. Claire Morrissey

The experience of hosting the 2013 Truth and Justice for El Salvador in Boston was deepening and transformative. Our goal was to support the Pro-Historical Memory Commission: a coalition of human rights organizations working for truth, justice and reparations for the grave human rights violations during and after the civil war in El Salvador. How so? By providing them settings in which they could plant seeds of truth in the hearts of those who came to learn.

 Stephen Pope, a theologian and professor at Boston College, was profoundly moved by the stories of Marina being torn from her mother’s arms and disappeared for 18 years; and Patty, who wanted to be a sister, being kidnapped twice, tortured and raped. When Pope turned to his class and said “Today we all have witnessed strong women with soft voices,” the room went silent as some of the students wept. Patty’s first person accounts of the brutal repression of poor women and children, was followed by accompanying her mother Alicia in search of disappeared family members. Her mother was a co-founder of the CO-MADRES, a group of women whom Archbishop Romero encouraged and supported as they organized to search for their disappeared loved ones, worked to free political prisoners and advocate fo justice.

From the perspective of the organizing committee in Boston, we all witnessed  the courage, conviction, and compassion that Patty and Marina, Bethany and Eleazar embody. Speaking for the Boston Tour committee we all agree there is more work to be done in the campaign for truth, justice and reparations in El Salvador and the U.S. We feel empowered and want to go forward with our sisters and brothers.

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