The SHARE Blog

Tod@s Nacimos Libres e Iguales

December 17, 2014

Title translation: We are all born free and equal

The United Nations recognizes December 10th as International Human Rights Day. Here in El Salvador, all of the major actors in the human rights arena gathered on Wednesday to give a report on the status of El Salvador’s struggle for human rights during 2014.  David Morales, Human Rights Ombudsman began with encouraging news of the various achievements and advancements of human rights during the past year.  Some of these include the promotion of the Law for Equality and Equity and the Law Against Violence Towards Women, the continued development of governmental programs like CONMIGRANTES and INJUVE, and a Constitutional Reform recognizing the rights of the indigenous population.


Luis Monterrosa is pictured on the left next to the European Union Ambassador

Luis Monterrosa, Director of IDHUCA , followed with his concise analysis of where El Salvador is still lacking.  He identified four major concerns. The first is the overwhelming culture of violence that plagues every department in the country. His second point melted into the prior because it is, as he described it, “the conservative ideology” that aggravates and perpetuates the culture of violence. “Conservative,” in this context, does not refer to any political party or ideology but rather to El Salvador as a whole. Monterrosa firmly asserted that because Salvadoran conservative ideology prohibits the creation of a space for dialogue and resolution, violence in the country has exploded to never-before-seen levels. “It is our silence and conservative approach that has gotten us to where we are. Look at the case of the 17 women incarcerated for miscarriages. Look at the number of displaced persons due to violence,” Monterrosa passionately pointed out. His third concern is the justice system that failed time and time again this year. He denounced the Attorney General’s Office and the Legislature for not acting as they were elected to act. “They can’t be questioned. Look at the case of Padre Toño!


All of the forum’s panelists

They do not administer justice in compliance with the law” Monterrosa fervently accused. He ended his discourse with his fourth concern: “None of these issues are new.”  Perhaps this is the most frustrating observation for human rights promoters and defenders. Is there an end to human rights violations in sight? How do we even begin to tackle huge issues like the culture of violence or the failed justice system? The European Union, also present at the forum, suggested two plans of action.  Starting in 2015 two new violence prevention programs will commence. One is aimed at caring for the victims of forced displacement, tending to their needs, and ensuring their safety. The other entails creating a network of human rights defenders and promoters educated on how to create a culture of peace. The European Union also administered funding for the defenders and promoters to teach classes to youth on the same topic.

Padre Andreu Oliva, the Rector of the UCA, reminded all those in attendance that if we are to see progress and an end to human rights violations in El Salvador, we are all to actively accept our roles as promoters and defenders of Human Rights. If we are a united front working together, we can insight change.

“Promotores y Defensores de los derechos humanos somos tod@s.”-P. Andreu Oliva

“We are all promoters and defenders of human rights.”

SHARE (Your) Inspiration: Julie Laven

December 15, 2014

CSV Scholarship Student Profile: Oscar

December 11, 2014

Delegate Spotlight: Judy

December 9, 2014

Our new blog series, Delegate Spotlight, will 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! 

Spotlight on: Judy Swett, CSJA, Boston, MA

Why did I decide to participate in the LCWR/ SHARE FOUNDATION in solidarity “Honoring Religious Women delegation” in 2012? The fact is my name was drawn in a lottery that the Sisters of St. Joseph of Boston provided for its Sisters and Associates and my  immediate response was YES! As a woman religious educator and social justice advocate,  I was profoundly moved by the horrific assassinations of Archbishop Romero in March and the Four Women Martyrs in December, 1980. So in the year 2012, after witnessing the crackdown of the Vatican on LCWR it  was for me a call and  privilege to represent the Boston CSJ’s along with Lois Connors, CSJ , Claire Morrissey,CSJ and Mary Rita Weschler CSJA along with over 50 other LCWR religious women from the US.

What did I gain from this experience? For me the entire program and process was liberating! The women and men I met on the Camino, taught me well about faith, suffering and resilience. Their moving testimonies of organized repression, oppression and the forced disappearance of loved ones was heart breaking. Having been inspired and challenged, I am working for Truth and Justice for the people of El Salvador and will continue to ‘speak truth to power.’ Read More »

SHARE (Your) Inspiration: José Artiga

December 1, 2014

Equality: Marching from an Idea to an Experience

November 26, 2014

On November 25th, International Day Against Violence Against Women, the streets of San Salvador were filled with women of all ages denouncing gender-based violence.  Chants rose up to the Legislative Assembly saying, “We are now in the 21st century! Women have rights! We want equality!” And “Violence is that the government and the church make decisions about my body!”


Azul holds her sign reading “I denounce the crimes against women. Not even one more disappeared or assasinated!”

One of the women at Tuesday’s march, Amanda Castro, walked along side her 10 year old daughter, Azul Castro, carrying a picket sign advocating for the end to violence against women. When asked why she was there, Amanda responded, “For me, November 25th is a day to denounce the systemic violence against women that comes from the state.”

To what was she referring?  El Salvador has one of the most rigid abortion laws in the world.  If the experience of having a miscarriage were not emotionally and physically straining enough, the Salvadoran Government in 1998 found a way to cause even more harm to women who go through it.  A woman in El Salvador can be sentenced to anywhere from 15 to 40 years of imprisonment for having a miscarriage. Many women at the march held up signs detailing the lives of 17 women who have been unjustly incarcerated under the terms of that law.

Amanda continued, “I am here with my daughter and all these other women today in the struggle to end sexism and inequality. Azul is intentionally here with me today. This is a consciousness raising event. She is a tool for the future.”

Young girls and women are the hope for a different future, one where equality will not just be an idea but will be an experience. Through community involvement and advocacy, young girls like Azul are challenging the current patriarchal system. Educating women and men alike about women’s rights is the answer to repealing oppressive institutionalized laws which claim complete control of a woman’s body.  There is hope for the future, and in this case, her name is Azul.


Delegate Reflection: The Spirits of the Jesuits Continue On

November 15, 2014

Pam Wargin traveled with the delegation from St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Wisconsin this past July. She graciously shares this reflection with us all. 

My name is Pam Wargin, and I am honored to have had the opportunity to have traveled to El Salvador as a part of our parish’s delegation this summer.

The St. Elizabeth Ann Seton delegation at the UCA.

When I first began the journey of preparing for this trip, I had very little knowledge of the history or of the current reality in El Salvador. I did not really understand that the country suffered a terrifying civil war between 1980 and 1992. I didn’t know that a large part of the population, including our brothers and sisters in Rutilio Grande, lived in refugee camps outside of El Salvador for twelve years during the war.

I wasn’t sure what God had to teach me on this trip. What I felt in El Salvador was heart wrenching and heart warming, horrifying and hopeful all mixed together in almost each and every individual experience.

Today, I’d like to share with you our visit to the University of Central America. The UCA- as it is called there- is a Jesuit university. The campus is much like Milwaukee’s Marquette, which is also Jesuit. It has a lovely chapel, students conversing on benches and calming walkways with beautiful trees and flowers. As a Marquette grad myself, I felt a certain connection with the staff and students around me as we walked through the grounds.

Read More »

Lessons Learned: Delegate Reflections

November 13, 2014

During the week of October 18th, 2014, eleven parishioners from Visitation Catholic Church in Kansas City continued their 26 year journey of accompaniment with Maria Madre de los Pobres Parish with a visit to El Salvador. After tending to medical clinics in the morning, the group visited the sacred sites and met with community members. Through it all they were touched, spurring them on to recommit to strengthening their relationship of solidarity. The following are quotes from various delegation participants.

“This is my 10th trip to [Maria Madre de los Pobres Parish]…my awareness of the world’s problems is always increased.”

“[Visiting the parish,] I see the importance of family and support for their family members. They look out for each other much more than Americans. I have been humbled by the way they live and how hard they must work to survive.”

“It is hard to accept that we live as we do back home when people here have so little.”

“I must say that I am often disappointed to see evidence of the US everywhere—Burger King, Wendy’s, Walmart. I wish our presence was evident in better ways.”

“We have common hope and common despair—we share the same place in the world. We need each other.”

If you are interested in how to start a sistering relationship between your church/community/school and the Salvadoran people, visit our website or contact our Grassroots Coordinator, Sarah Hall, at today!

Living with the People: VMM and SHARE

November 11, 2014

Claire and Julie presenting about SHARE to a VMM delegation in Nicaragua this November.

“VMM has provided the SHARE Foundation and its partner communities with invaluable human resources needed to advance our work for long-term, sustainable solutions to poverty and underdevelopment in El Salvador. The missioners VMM has brought to SHARE have been outstanding people both professionally as well as personally. Two, in fact, have moved on to direct our programs States-side and lead SHARE as an organization. Not only have these VMs left their imprint on SHARE’s work for justice in El Salvador; they have also touched the lives of hundreds of people in the United States and in El Salvador through their warmth, commitment, spirituality, and strength of character. Thank you VMM!”

In 1969, Edwina Gateley founded Volunteer Missionary Movement (VMM) in response to a need for lay people to become more deeply involved in the mission life of the Church. VMM believes in the equality of all peoples, feels an obligation to the worldwide Church community, and is committed to sustainable change through social justice efforts. VMM seeks to accompany the people they serve in faith and compassion, while providing their volunteer missionaries an invaluable opportunity for spiritual and personal development.

Currently, Claire, SHARE’s Communications Coordinator, and Julie, SHARE’s Delegations (Grassroots Sistering Accompaniment) Coordinator, are supported through VMM. Being a Volunteer Missioner (VM), helps create a space for community and support as they experience life in El Salvador. Along with weekly check-ins, they meet together monthly to reflect on how to live out VMM’s vision of being “catalysts for peace, social justice and human empowerment of the poor and marginalized as we work together in a divided world to inspire ‘the transformation of all things in Christ’.” From poetry, to journaling, to discussions, VMs come together during their experience to enrich their time living in solidarity with those whom they serve. Read More »

Ayotzinapa Update

November 10, 2014

Last week we wrote about the disappearances of the 43 Mexican students. We would now like to extend our condolences to their families and loved ones. Over the weekend, authorities found the students’ bodies massacred and burned among sticks and rubbish. Currently, 72 people associated with a “drug gang” have been taken into custody to be charged with the students’ murders.

Yesterday many Mexican citizens, in an out pour of rage at the government’s handling of this brutal bloodshed of innocent youth, stormed the Presidential Palace in Mexico City demanding justice and a change in response to the cartel violence that has become evermore common.  People are not convinced that the government was not involved in the orchestration of the student massacre.

Often times, we consider massacres at the hands of state governments to be archaic phenomena that our modern day society has overcome. However, lamentably, the case of the Mexican students suggests otherwise. Accompanying a people who is all too familiar with the suffering inflicted by unjust killings, we at SHARE offer a fraternal hug of solidarity to the Mexican people.  We are all Ayotzinapa.


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