The SHARE Blog

Madre Guadalupe in Recovery

July 10, 2013

Madre Guadalupe shared her story and her insight into human rights work recently with the UCC-Salem delegates. She stands with ___ at the Wall of Truth and Memory.

Madre Guadalupe shared her story and her insight into human rights work recently with the UCC-Salem delegates. She stands with a SHARE delegate at the Monument to Truth and Memory.

Madre Guadalupe Mejia suffered a severe asthma attack on July 2, and has spent the last week hospitalized in the ICU, but is now stable and recovering. She remains sedated and her health is improving hour by hour. Many have been praying throughout the week for Madre Guadalupe and we are hopeful about her recovery. There will be a mass in her honor at the Crypt in the National Cathedral at 10 am this Sunday, July 14, to pray for her recovery.

Madre Guadalupe is the president of the Committee of Relatives of Victims of Grave Human Rights Violations (CODEFAM) and a member of the SHARE Board of Directors. Madre is considered by many to be the grandmother of the fight for human rights in El Salvador. She has been integral in the formation and process of the Pro-Historical Memory Commission in seeking truth, justice, and reparations for those who were forcefully disappeared and affected by the violence that occurred during the civil war in El Salvador in the 1980s. Madre meets with almost all of SHARE`s delegations to share her own testimony of loss and courage and the ongoing struggle for justice.

Over two hundred victims of human rights violations and human rights defenders gathered in May to in a commemoration and celebration to close the International Week of the Detained and Disappeared and to celebrate Madre’s 70th birthday and honor the mothers that lead the three committees of relatives of victims of human rights violations. It was a testimony to the lives Madre has touched and the people she has united through her compassionate spirit and generous work. We are all praying for for Madre’s health and stand with her in prayer while her strength returns and we invite you to join us. 


Ricardo talks Agricultural Improvements and Food Sovereignty under FMLN

July 9, 2013

The CIETTA cooperative uses recycled charcoal to make their organic fertilizer

The CIETTA cooperative uses recycled charcoal to make their organic fertilizer

Part two of 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 improvements have you seen within the agricultural sector?

Distribution of agricultural packets to farmers has improved.  Previously, the packets were used to make the rich richer.  The government provided seed from former ARENA party leader Alfredo Cristiani’s seed company, Semillas Cristiani Burkhard.  (The first ARENA president, Alfredo Cristiani, remains one of the most powerful businessmen in El Salvador.)  Now, things are different.  The government is giving out 375,000 agricultural packets to Salvadoran farmers.  And, they’re doing something important:  they’re not buying seed from Cristiani or Monsanto.  Instead, they’re buying from Salvadoran cooperatives. Within CONFRAS’ network of cooperatives, 5 cooperatives are producing seed for the agricultural packets. Read More »


Celebrating 25 years with the CCR

July 5, 2013

On Saturday, June 22, the Association for the Development of Chalatenango (CCR)  celebrated 25 years of community organizing with a regional assembly of founding members and representatives from the 110 communities in which the CCR works.

SHARE scholarship student and CCR women’s secretariat coordinator from the CCR explains the types of seed women received in Las Flores.

CCR members invited guests from government and non-government institutions and solidarity organizations to honor their most important achievements from the past 25 years. These include the defense of human rights during the civil war, the successful re-population of several communities, as well as many community development efforts, such as access to basic services, healthcare, education, and food sovereignty.

Among the many ways the CCR continues to improve their community is the current food sovereignty project in Chalatenango. Led by SHARE scholarship student Rubia Guardado. This spring, women in eight different communities learned how to install and care for home vegetable gardens Nueva Trinidad, Ellacuria, Las Minas, Guarjila, San Isidro, San Francisco Morazán, Las Flores, and Carasque, in the installation and care of home vegetable gardens.

Everyone helps prepare the soil in Ellacuría.

Through these trainings women learned to make organic fertilizer and pesticides with easy to find, affordable ingredients. With this initial training and follow-up from the CCR these women will have the skills they need for their gardens to flourish and to bring their communities one step closer to food sovereignty.

We feel honored to have accompanied the CCR’s work over the past 25 years and are ready to stand with them for the next 25 years!

 

 


A is for Alfabetización

July 3, 2013

Fourteen SHARE literacy brigadistas (delegates) arrived last week in San Salvador to learn about the literacy campaign in El Salvador, helping the 14% of the Salvadoran population who are currently illiterate achieve basic reading and writing skills. These brigadistas are high school and university students, mothers, and idealists who saw a need and understood some of the reality for someone who has had the doors of knowledge closed on them. 100% literacy in El Salvador starts with volunteers who can share the knowledge that ought to be a human right for everyone.

The SHARE brigadistas met with fellow volunteers and those coordinating the literacy endeavor, including the Minister of Education, Franzi Hato Hasbún, and the head of the Department of Literacy within MINED, Angelica Paniagua. Both officials shared the achievements and goals of the Programa Nacional de Alfabetización (PNA) at a conference with MINED and CISPES. Delegates learned about educational structures of the past and how the present literacy program (PNA) is evolving educational access for Salvadorans. It is exciting to witness the volunteers who are crucial to the literacy program’s success. Stay tuned for more updates from the Literacy Brigade!

“A literate community is a dynamic community, one that exchanges ideas and engages in debate. Illiteracy, however, is an obstacle to a better quality of life, and can even breed exclusion and violence” (UNESCO).


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.


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