The SHARE Blog

Brigadistas Embark on Literacy Brigade!

June 26, 2013

This weekend, 14 brigadistas head to El Salvador as part of the 2013 Literacy Brigade. These SHARE brigadistas are certainly full of mixed emotions: they are enthusiastic, empowered, and anxious to meet new friends and experience the massive changes that El Salvador is going through, politically, socially, and economically. As Elsie Serrano, a student at Eastern Michigan University, prepares to embark on this journey, she shares a few parting thoughts with us.

Scholarship students train to hold literacy circles in their communities

Scholarship students train to hold literacy circles in their communities

Why are you going on this Brigade?

I am going on the Literacy Brigade because I believe that literacy is a human right and that it is an essential tool for people to empower themselves and improve their lives. I am excited about the opportunity to participate in the Literacy Brigades and to witness SHARE’s [along with MINED and CIDEP] efforts first hand.

Why is it important for you to connect with El Salvador?

My family moved to the United States from El Salvador in the 1970’s and for this reason I am eager to give back to the country and the people in any way possible.  After learning about El Salvador’s history in class, I am passionate about its future.  El Salvador and the United States have always had close ties so I believe it is important to strengthen these connections through solidarity and programs such as SHARE’s literacy brigade. Read More »


Inside Look with Ricardo

June 22, 2013

An interview with CONFRAS’ Ricardo Ramirez, social organizer, marking 4 years of the FMLN administration. CONFRAS is the Confederation of Federations of Agricultural Cooperatives from the Agricultural Reform. CONFRAS connects federations of agricultural cooperatives throughout El Salvador, facilitating economic and social development for its members of national agriculture cooperatives.

What advances have you seen in these last 4 years under FMLN leadership?

Well, there are a lot.  We can categorize them under four themes:  economics, social advances, democracy, and international relations.

Economic Advances

From (CONFRAS’) point of view, there has been an improvement in the economy. When the “Government of Change” took power, there was an economic recession …in 2009 it was a very serious problem. It has been a very difficult process, but… there has been a slow recuperation. At least there has been some re-growth, and this growth has happened even though the private sector has not been investing in the nation, as the large corporations have been taking their investment to other countries.  Here, economic growth is instead accredited to public investment. Even so, we can say that the economy is in a state of recuperation. Read More »


Will Peace Persevere?

June 20, 2013

Promises are easy to break. One moment of uncontrolled frustration, one temptation too strong to turn from, one selfish choice turns the strongest, well-intentioned promises to dust.

Press conferences are indefinitely suspended. source: Contrapunto.com

Press conferences are indefinitely suspended. source: Contrapunto.com

In Las Cañas of Ilopango, gunshots erupted for a period of about ten minutes on June 1st. Though there were no deaths, just two cars riddled with bullets, this is at least the sixth time residents have heard gunshots in the past month. Ilopango was first municipality declared free of violence, after the leaders of the two main gangs in Las Cañas stood together on stage and promised the locals that the war between the gangs was over and that they no longer had to live in fear. However, bursts of violence and tensions that remain among gangs are testing promises like this, with these gunshots serving as a jolting reminder that the gang truce is not a passive one. Mediators, government powers, and gang members must devote themselves every day to establishing long-lasting peace for El Salvador.

Read More »


In Thanksgiving: a Prayer

June 16, 2013

Visitation Parish and María Madre de los Pobres celebrate 25 years of accompaniment and solidarity this week in El Salvador.

Visitation Parish and María Madre de los Pobres celebrate 25 years of accompaniment and solidarity this week in El Salvador.

A prayer written by Peg Ekerdt, Visitation Parish

From the hills of San Salvador

To the streets of Kansas City

From the streams of La Chacra

To the waters of Brush Creek

From the tin roof of Santa Maria Madre

To the tiled dome of Visitation

From the hopes and dreams of one faith community

To the hopes and dreams of another

You, Loving God, have brought us to one another

And taught us how wide and deep is your love. Read More »


Dreams of healing

June 13, 2013

Drew Theological School was honored to host guests from El Salvador this month, guests dedicated to speaking truth and seeking justice. El Salvador is a country that struggles to heal from a violent and brutal war. Patricia Garcia and Marina Ortiz of the Pro-Historical Memory Commission experienced that violence first hand. The women share their stories with the hope that justice for those who suffer can be realized through the power of truth-telling.

Marina with Antonia Cabrera, member of COMEFAC and the Pro-Historical Memory Commission

Marina with Antonia Cabrera, member of COMEFAC and the Pro-Historical Memory Commission

For Marina, who was raised in an orphanage during the armed conflict, and Patricia, whose family members suffered torture and murder, this truth is about the future of El Salvador, its very soul, and its newest generation. What kind of El Salvador will these children know? For Marina and Patricia, this truth is about the countless mothers—grandmothers now—who carry photographs of the young people they lost without a trace, this truth is about the thousands of children stolen or orphaned, with no memory of the parents who treasured them. Read More »


Here’s to 25 more years of sistering!

June 10, 2013

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Yesterday ten North Americans found their way from Kansas City, Missouri to La Chacra, El Salvador to spend time with their Salvadoran brothers and sisters. Maria Madre de los Pobres Parish and Visitation Parish celebrate their 25th anniversary this week, honoring the work and relationships that have formed since 1988 and all that will come in the next 25 years. 

Parishioner Steve Engler tells us a little more about Visitation’s sistering relationship with Maria Madre de los Pobres.
 
How has your relationship with Madre de los Pobres impacted your ministry in the US?

It’s a point of reference for me.  When I teach, which is my primary ministry, our relationship with Madre gives tangible life to concepts like solidarity and communion.  In addition, it gives me joy.

What is one significant memory you have of working with individuals in your sister parish? What is your favorite thing about going on this delegation year after year?  

Lots of memories.  I’ve been on three delegations – this will be my fourth.  One memory is sitting with Padre Daniel waiting for white smoke from the Vatican eight years ago.  It was a wonderful moment of the universal church.  Both of us were disappointed by the outcome but it was still a strong moment to be a part of the church community.  Probably my strongest memory is watching one of our doctors, Joe Henry, care for elderly patients.  Joe would always sit down with them, rub their back and listen carefully to their ailments and their story.  After that he did whatever he could to help them medically.  I see that as the model of our relationship with each.  Lets always be sure to sit down, be connected and listen to each other – after that, let’s do what we can together to help the people of LaChacra.

New Picture (3)

How is your relationship with Madre de los Pobres changed over 25 years?

There has been steady growth in our relationship.  In the beginning it was the passion of our pastor, Bob Rost, that gave the relationship life.  Now, 25 years and 3 pastors later it’s our people, about 200 of them together with all the people on staff and all the sponsored children at Madre that keep this thing going.

Why is it important to you to stay connected to Madre de los Pobres?

Hope.  We give each other hope.


A Celebration for all the Madres!

June 4, 2013

Smiling faces and hearty embraces mixed with tears and raw memories lived on Friday, May 31st as over two hundred victims of human rights violations and human rights defenders joined the Pro-Historical Memory Commission and SHARE in a commemoration and celebration to close the International Week of the Detained and Disappeared, honor all of the Mothers of the Disappeared, and celebrate Madre Guadalupe´s 70th birthday. “Madre” Guadalupe Mejía is the president of the Committee of Family Members of Victims of Grave Human Rights Violations (CODEFAM) and is considered by many to be the grandmother of the fight for human rights in El Salvador.

Held at the Museo Tecleño, the gathering brought together many friends united by their decades long struggle for justice and respect for human rights. The Museo Tecleño, once a detention center for political prisoners, now serves as a museum dedicated to historical memory and cultural education, a fitting space for a commemoration filled with pain, inspiration, gratitude, and hope.

Read More »


P3 law passes: What does this mean?

May 28, 2013

The Salvadoran Legislative Assembly passed the Public-Private Partnerships Law Thursday, May 23rd, with 83 of 84 votes. As one assembly member was absent for the vote, the law passed by consensus, meaning no parties opposed the passing of the law. Despite some resistance from the Salvadoran left and social movements, especially unions, the current public services that this law will open to contracts for management by private companies include ports, the airport, highways, and municipal services. Before agreeing to pass the bill, left-wing political party FMLN negotiated to ensure that some major public services are excluded from privatization, including water, education (particularly the national university), healthcare, the health insurance system for Salvadorans with formal jobs, and public security. While these exclusions are an important silver lining, Salvadoran social movements have reacted with outrage.“Public-Private partnerships continue the neo-liberal economic model where, once again, the state turns over public goods to private enterprise.”
– Isabel Hernandez, SHARE El Salvador

The United States was keen on this law passing in order to facilitate contracts for U.S. based corporations’ future business development and other international corporations’ investment to be carried out without facing any obstacles. U.S.-El Salvador ambassador, Mari Carmen Aponte, even threatened not to approve the next Millennium Challenge Corporation project funding, had the law not been passed. The fund focuses on coordinating public-private partnerships to enact mega tourism and development projects primarily along the coast in the Lower Lempa region. Read More »


Court Replay: Montt Decision Annulled

May 21, 2013

Efraín Ríos Montt will face witnesses and judgement once more. (source: NY Times)

Efraín Ríos Montt will face witnesses and judgement once more. (source: NY Times)

 Yesterday Guatemalan’s constitutional court overthrew the May 10th verdict that convicted former military dictator General Efraín Ríos Montt for the mass genocide of 1,771 indigenous Ixil Mayan people.

Guatemala’s civil war took about 200,000 lives from 1960-1996. During the 17 months General Ríos Montt remained in power, from 1982-1983, some of the greatest human rights violations and crimes against humanity were committed as a result of his orders.

Though Ríos Montt is widely believed to be responsible for the mass murder of the Ixil Mayans, the court annulled its decision on the basis that Ríos Montt lacked a defense lawyer on April 19th after his defense team walked out in protest against what they deemed “illegal proceedings”.

According to the court, the proceedings should have been suspended right then. Instead, during the span of a few hours, Ríos Montt rejected the court-ordered public defense lawyer and failed to retain a defense team of his own.

What does this decision mean for Montt’s trial?

  1. The guilty verdict is void, including the 80-year prison sentence.
  2. The trial is reset to whatever stood on April 19th: statements given before the April 19th hearing stand, but all testimonies and witness statements, as well as closing arguments, will be repeated.

  3. The legal battle is not over, and the final weeks of the trial will replay. Both sides are preparing for this next phase.

BBC News has an excellent article commenting on the turn of events here.

 


San Vicente Students Share their Challenges

May 17, 2013

On April 5th, 2013, the CRIPDES San Vicente team held their third scholarship student assembly with high school students representing various communities throughout the San Vicente region. Students had a chance to mix and mingle together before the assembly began. CRIPDES team members Amilcar and Esmeralda shared some of the advances of the team’s work in the region, before closing the assembly with a chance for a group photo and of course, passing out scholarship monies to students.

Students in San Vicente

Students in San Vicente

SHARE scholarship recipients Oscar Perez and Sandra del Carmen Alfaro sat down for a short interview. Both age 17, they shared the different community activities they participate in, as well as the challenges they face as youth.

Tell us about the activities in which you participate in your community.

Oscar: Well, I participate in some activities in my community, like in church projects, and in other activities, for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day.

Sandra: In my community, I participate in … well, when there are community meetings, they always look for me to read the minutes, and of course when there are festivals, I always support them too. Sometimes [the community] holds tournaments, and I always try to support them since I am a scholarship recipient, and [I also support my community’s] cleaning campaigns, and Mother’s Day and Father’s Day celebrations, International Women’s Day and Day of the Child.

What challenges do you face as a student, as a youth?

Oscar and Sandra talk about their time as students

“Our challenge is to be able to learn so much…to be a professional.”

Oscar: Our challenge is to keep studying, keep moving forward, earn a degree, and be able to learn so much … to be a professional.

Sandra: Our challenges are also to complete the tasks we have at hand, our homework, to follow our dreams. If we are studying, it’s because we want to excel, not just to go to school to spend the day or the afternoon with others. So, yeah, learn all that, and participate in and support the program.

What would you like to say to grassroots partners in the United States?
Oscar: I would like to thank you for the support you offer us, it is really a big help for those of us with scarce economic resources, it helps us cover many expenses that we would not normally be able to afford. Thank you!

Sandra: Yes, that’s our message!


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