Friday, December 31, 2010

Celebrating a successful 2010!

As 2010 comes to a close, SHARE is excited to be celebrating another successful year. 2010 has been full of events worth celebrating. In addition to successfully implementing eighteen projects for youth leadership development and scholarships, women’s empowerment, organic agriculture, environmental protection, and advocacy initiatives, SHARE celebrated several major advocacy victories and kept the legacy of social justice alive with two major delegations commemorating Archbishop Romero and the 4 US Churchwomen.

Here are just a few highlights from 2010:
  • SHARE played key role in pressuring the Salvadoran state to apologize to the civilian victims of the civil war and ask for forgiveness for its role in Romero’s assassination for the first time since the signing of the Peace Accords in 1992.
  • SHARE responded to Tropical Storm Agatha by supporting local organizations with over $7,000 for emergency relief.
  • The “Law for a Life Free of Violence for Women” was passed by the Salvadoran legislature on November 25th. SHARE and local counterpart ORMUSA advocated for this law, which includes violence prevention programs, resources for victims of violence, and provisions for strengthening the legal system.
  • In early December, SHARE led nearly 50 delegates on a week long journey to commemorate the four US Churchwomen who were killed in El Salvador 30 years ago. The delegation focused on remembering the legacy of social justice these courageous women left and on issues effecting women in El Salvador today.
In 2011, SHARE is celebrating its 30th Anniversary. With 30 years of solidarity under our belts, we are excited to keep our momentum working to build a new El Salvador. Thank you again for you support and contributions this year. We look forward to hearing from you in 2011!

Happy New Year from all of us at SHARE!

Want to get more involved? Sign up for our eNewsletter list by emailing or join our Facebook group. Help make 2011 a success by making a donation to SHARE today. 

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Remembering the Martyred of El Salvador

A reflection by delegates, Sisters Julia Keegan and Jean Rupertus, who accompanied SHARE on the delegation honoring the 4 US Churchwomen. 

On November 29, we went to El Salvador with a 50-person delegation from SHARE to honor the 30th anniversary of the martyrdom of Maryknoll Missionaries Maura Clark and
 Ita Ford, Ursuline Sister Dorothy Kazel, and lay volunteer Jean Donovan. Our first stop was Divina Providencia where Archbishop Oscar Romero lived and where he was killed while saying Mass. We laid our hands on the altar and united in solidarity with the people of El Salvador. It was fitting to go there first because his conversion and commitment to the poor inspired and strengthened the commitment of these four women. 

On the anniversary of the rape and murder of the four women, we traveled to San Pedro Nonhualco which is where their bodies were found...

Read the rest of the reflection here.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Need a last minute gift idea?

SHARE solidarity gifts are a great way to make your donation to SHARE a gift for someone special. Just pick a project, enter the recipient’s contact info and we’ll send a card that tells them you made a gift to SHARE in his or her honor. It’s that simple. 
See the projects here:

And you can have the peace of mind, that this holiday season you helped support the struggle for economic and social justice in El Salvador.

Purchase your gift before 12/23 to ensure that we can email the card before Christmas. Let us know if you have any questions!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Why the Four US Churchwomen are Important Today

On December 5th, St John Francis Regis, a long-time SHARE sister in Kansas City, MO, hosted a prayer service in commemoration of the four US churchwomen killed in El Salvador 30 years ago.  Over 200 people attended a service that included processions, prayers and a powerful reflection by Sr. Mary McGlone. You can read the story about the event on a local newspaper's website.  
Photo thanks to The Catholic Key Online.
 Father Tom Holder reflects on the date:
I believe there are several reasons why the commemoration is still important today. There is still work to be done and we need to remember the commitment and courage of the four churchwomen to give us strength to do the hard work of justice. We need to make sure the younger generation has a sense of the real history of the region and the ability our country has to influence things, both in good and bad ways. In the Kansas City area, there are growing numbers of Salvadoran immigrants. They are here because they still suffer hardship and persecution. We need to hear the stories so that we can continue to be in solidarity with the people of El Salvador. The four churchwomen teach us the importance of putting a face on the issues. They inspire us by their example and call us to see the people of El Salvador as our brothers and sisters.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Churchwomen Delegation Photo Album is up!

The SHARE delegation in front of the church built on the site
where the bodies of the 4 Churchwomen were found.
Check out our Flickr Album from the delegation here: Have some fantastic photos from the delegation that you want to SHARE. Let us know. Or if you want more updates from SHARE join our Facebook group or follow us on Twitter @SHAREelsalvador.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Quotes from the final weekend of the Churchwomen Delegation

With the delegation coming to a close, delegates shared many interesting and profound responses to the experience with SHARE. We've compiled a few quotes here to provide food for thought to those of you who weren't able to join us in El Salvador for this memorable occasion. 

The delegation spent the first part of Saturday in San Salvador’s main Cathedral and in the crypt below, which is the final resting place of Archbishop Romero.  After this experience one delegate commented:

"The contrast between the ornateness of the main cathedral and the simplicity with which Romero lived his life was startling and very disturbing.  It makes you question the role of the Catholic Church in the social issue of our times." -Belinda Monahan, OSB

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A Delegate Reflection

A reflection from Patricia Crowley, OSB:

I keep tripping across Dostoyevsky's quote about our being saved by beauty (if by nothing else). In the midst of present stories of violence, pain, struggle, loss and with memories of fear and anger and suspicion frm my time here in 1990, I feel overwhelmed by peace and hope and the beauty of Salvadoran faces. Life is hard here. Poverty is deep. Yesterday we visited the community of Llano Grande in Tecoluca-- a group of 45 families who have claimed a piece of land here and built a home (of cardboard and branches and old tin) with a small garden and washlines and love.

To learn more about how you can visit El Salvador on a SHARE delegation visit our website or email us at For more updates from SHARE follow us on Twitter @SHAREelsalvador or join our group on Facebook.  

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Delegate Reflection: Mercy Touches Wounds of El Salvadoran People

This account was written after the first day of the delegation for the Sisters of Mercy blog by Jean Stokan, a SHARE Board Member and representative of the Institute Justice Team of the Sisters of Mercy,.

Mercy Touches Wounds of El Salvadoran People
Written by Jean Stokan, Institute Justice Team   
December 02, 2010
Nine members of our Mercy family are traveling to El Salvador Nov. 29-Dec. 6 as part of a 50-person delegation commemorating the 30th anniversary of the martyrdom of four U.S. churchwomen who were working with those who are poor and oppressed in that Central American country.  The following is their first blog post from El Salvador:
We started our first full day in El Salvador going to the chapel where Archbishop Oscar Romero was assassinated. On a wall leading up to the chapel is a powerful mural of Romero surrounded by his beloved people.
Some are depicted as under weights of oppression, others are smiling. Romero in holding a child with one hand and the other hand is raised, with a striking blood-red stigmata in the center. His feet as well are imaged with the stigmata.

Friday, December 3, 2010

First Hand Account of Churchwomen Commemoration Events in El Salvador

Written on December 2, 2010 by Chantal de Alcuaz, this is a firsthand account of the activities SHARE delegates participated in on the 30th Anniversary of the deaths of the 4 US Churchwomen in El Salvador.

The Congregation for Mass
Today, the anniversary of the martyrdom of the four North American Churchwomen, we began by journeying to the place where the bodies of Ita, Maura, Jean and Dorothy were found.  A church and memorial have since been constructed on the site.  As the SHARE delegation neared the site, our three vehicles entered into prayerful silence to consider the life and legacy of the women we came to celebrate.  We gathered, overflowing from the church, with an international community, Maryknoll sisters, fathers, and lay missionaries, Ursuline Sisters, high school delegations from the US, and even family members of Maura Clark, and many more, to pray and celebrate the Eucharist.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Remembering the 4 US Churchwomen

"It’s been a very big positive event. For people who have been doing this work for years, it is a great chance to share and remember. All of our groups are involved in this work and the struggle somehow," said Jose Artiga, SHARE Executive Director, from the event honoring the 4 US Churchwomen at the site where they were killed in El Salvador. 

The women, who dedicated their lives to walking with poor and marginalized communities in El Salvador, were killed 30 years ago today on December 2, 1980.

SHARE launches revamped solidarity gift program

Let SHARE help with your holiday shopping! Our solidarity gifts programs makes it easy for you to donate to SHARE and give a gift to a friend or loved one at the same time. All you have to do is choose which SHARE project you want to support and enter the name and email address of the person receiving your gift. We will email a customized letter to your friend or loved one to inform them that a solidarity gift was made in his or her honor.

We just updated our solidarity gift page to include 5 exciting, new projects. Ranging from school supplies to seeds for organic gardens, your donation will help SHARE support the people of El Salvador in their struggle for economic and social justice!

Delegation Day 2: Ballet and La Pequena Comunidad

Delegates joined the Folkloric Ballet in dance
Yesterday delegates visited La Pequena Comunidad, a Christian Base Community  of women religious that has been active since the late 1970s. They have walked with poor and persecuted Salvadoran communities before, during and after the war. It was a busy day of bonding, reflection, and expression through song and dance.

Watching a performance of the Folkloric Ballet was a highlight for the group. Shirley Tung from Pax Christi summed up the ballet performance like this:  "I thought it was just a wonderful experience because I was able to share the spirit of the people that were dancing as well as all the people that were applauding for them. I have six left feet when it comes to dancing, but who cares. It was sharing in their happiness. "

Remembering the 4 US Churchwomen: An Article from the National Catholic Reporter

This article was originally published in the National Catholic Reporter on November 30, 2010. It is a well written  commemoration of the 4 US Churchwomen and the impact they have had on generations since their deaths, thirty years ago today on December 2, 1980.

'The women won’t let us go'

Nov. 30, 2010
By Cheryl Wittenauer
Isabel Legarda was only 8 years old when the abduction, rape and shooting death of four American churchwomen 30 years ago in El Salvador drew the world’s attention to the tiny Central American country, raised questions about U.S. support for rightist forces there, and inspired a movement of religious activism.
On Dec. 4, 1980, three Maryknoll sisters pray
beside the bodies of the four American
 Catholic women who were kidnapped and
slain two days before in El Salvador. (AP
Legarda has assembled a multiethnic and ecumenical mix of artists to perform next month in Boston the New England premiere of “Missionaries,” award-winning composer Elizabeth Swados’ choral drama based on the women’s letters, journals, lives and work.
Swados’ latest work, “Resilient Souls,” which premieres next month in New York, explores how people were affected by the women’s death, and how it changed their own commitment to the poor. 
“This story doesn’t just resonate with Catholics,” said Legarda, whose “Missionaries” cast and crew include a pagan, an atheist, a Jew, a Unitarian and Protestants. She said she wanted a “village of people” to tell a story with universal meaning -- that the women sacrificed everything for their faithfulness to El Salvador’s poor in the early, brutal days of its as-yet-undeclared civil war.
“We still have situations that demand people’s commitment to justice, whether in Sudan or Burma or the Philippines,” Legarda said. “There’s a tinderbox everywhere that requires people to give of themselves, to give everything for love"
Pilgrims still flock to El Salvador... Continue to the rest of the story

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"Wow" and "Peace and Wonderment" Among Reactions to Day 1 of Delegation Commemorating 4 US Churchwomen

A group of delegates at the luncheon
After arriving in El Salvador yesterday, the 46 delegates accompanying SHARE in commemorating the 30th Anniversary of the assassinations of 4 US Churchwomen began their journey today.

First on the agenda was a visit to the house of Archbishop Oscar Romero and the chapel where he was assassinated just nine months before the Churchwomen were also killed. It was an emotional visit for many of the delegates. When asked for her reaction, Sister Donna Wilhelm's short response was "how 'bout, wow." Diane Madden, on the other hand, felt "just peace and wonderment in God's plan and what it's all about, this thing we call life."

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Law passed in El Salvador for a life Free of Violence for Women!

Women Marchers Triumph:
Salvadoran Legislature Passes Law for a Life Free of Violence Against Women

Thursday November 25th, International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, over 4,000 Salvadoran women coursed down Juan Pablo II, a busy road en route to the Salvadoran Legislative Assembly.1 Women carried banners, thumped lively rhythms on drums, and cried out for an end to violence. In front of the legislative assembly, they demanded respect for current laws guaranteeing women's rights, and passage of the Special Holistic Law for a Life Free of Violence Against Women.

And they were successful!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

CDH Students Cry out for the Salvadoran People at SOA Protest

This past weekend, Cretin Derham Hall (CDH) Spanish teacher Ariana Lowther brought a group of students down to the gates of Fort Benning in Georgia to bear witness to all those killed at the hands of School of the Americas (SOA) graduates. 

Photo courtesy of Ariana Lowther
Sunday morning at the vigil, participants carry crosses with the names of those who have been killed by graduates of the SOA. While everyone solemnly processes past the base, leaving crosses, pictures, and peace cranes, they sing out the names and lift their crosses, crying,"Presente," you are here present with us. Above is a picture of senior Akoni García and Ariana with their crosses. Ariana said, "We felt honored to be there and cry out for all the people of El Salvador." Both Akoni and Ariana participated in CDH SHARE delegations this summer, in July and August respectively. Akoni has graciously shared a poem he wrote about his experience at the SOA protest, which you can read below.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The SHARE Foundation is hiring in El Salvador!

The SHARE Foundation is looking to hire a GRASSROOTS SOLIDARITY EDUCATION COORDINATOR in our El Salvador office.  Interested?  Visit  Know someone who might be?  Please help us spread the word!

The SHARE Foundation: Building a New El Salvador Today is an international non-profit organization that accompanies historically impoverished and marginalized communities in El Salvador as they strive to meet both their most immediate needs and construct long-term sustainable solutions to the problems of poverty, underdevelopment and social injustice.

After two years with SHARE as the Grassroots Solidarity Educator, I have gained a deep understanding of what it means to work for international development, of the social, economic and political situation of El Salvador, of the complexities and importance of social movements, and of the need for international solidarity with Latin America. SHARE is part of a long tradition of solidarity and accompaniment that I am honored to be a part of and continues to play a part in El Salvador’s current situation by working with coalitions and movements dedicated to human rights. This is a wonderful opportunity to work for an NGO that strives to build sustainable and equal relationships between its counterparts in the States and in El Salvador. I have grown professionally in this position as I have learned how to plan and carry out events, how to write about El Salvador for a large base in the States and how to work better in a team. I have also grown personally through my first-hand experience with amazing organized communities and social groups here in El Salvador who have a long history of struggle for social justice. I would recommend this job for anyone interested in international development, social justice, writing, theology, women’s issues, the environment and sustainability.” Laura Hershberger, Grassroots Solidarity Education Coordinator 2009-2011

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Where Drumming and Sex Ed Meet in El Salvador

About an hour northwest of San Salvador, in the small community of Ciudadela, a group of high school girls meets to do two things: to discuss sexual and reproductive rights, and to play the drums. They attend trainings on how to educate their female peers about pregnancy prevention, HIV/AIDS, the rights of women to make decisions that affect their bodies, and the right to enjoy one’s sexuality. And then they rehearse as the Sihua Batucada, the only all female youth drum band in the country of El Salvador. The poise, strength, and intelligence of these young women took my breath away and brought me to the edge of tears. A few minutes with these girls will remind even the most cynical that another world is indeed possible.

On my recent trip to El Salvador, I had the opportunity to meet with just five of the fifteen of these young women who are part of a youth leadership and development project supported by SHARE and the Salvadoran women’s organization IMU. The girls explained the program to us—they receive training on important sexual and reproductive issues that affect women and girls, and then they commit to training at least 3 other female peers in their community. As an integral part of the leadership development component, they have formed the batucada (drum band). According to the girls, being part of the batucada boosts their confidence and reinforces their sense of belonging to a team. One girl explained that her new self-assurance helps her in talking to the peers she trains. Another stated that playing music is a way to for her to enjoy her sexuality in a safe space. A third said “It feels really good to be really good at something.”

And they are really good! Watch a short clip below: 

(To see a longer version of this song, click here.)

But neither drumming nor talking about women’s sexual rights are typical or widely accepted activities for a Salvadoran high school girl. As a result, the girls’ pioneering work has not gone unnoticed—at least one girl has been threatened with expulsion for talking about condoms at school, and critics have called the girls “prostitutes” and started nasty rumors about them. People criticized them for drumming at marches and demonstrations, spreading lies about the causes they were supporting. But amazingly enough, these setbacks have only deepened their commitment to their work and helped to clarify the important reasons behind it. When asked how the rumors and the critics have affected them, one of the girls smiled and responded, “Well, it was hard at first, but really they just made us stronger and brought us together.” Their persistence and dedication has paid off. Now their communities and their families are proud of them, and more young women in their area have knowledge of their rights and choices when it comes to their sexual health.

These young women are an inspiration and a model for girls everywhere. SHARE is lucky to be able to accompany them and learn from them. ¡Viva la Sihua Batucada!

--Sara Schultz, Operations Manager

Help us support these young women again next year by making a donation to SHARE here! Want more information? Email to get on our eNewsletter list.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Beyond My Horizons: A Delegate Reflection

This reflection was graciously shared with us by Andrew Nyberg, a Cretin-Derham Hall senior who participated in a SHARE delegation this past summer.

Beyond My Horizons
We were staring into a mirror, but we just didn’t realize it yet. I had been traveling throughout the country of El Salvador for the past nine days with 17 classmates being filled with knowledge and awareness about the culture and the social injustice that plagues the country. We had spent three days living in the countryside in the village of Santa Cruz II with host families who were literally dirt poor. The house I stayed in was made of mud and sticks and was no bigger than my room at home. When it was full, it housed our host mother, Margarita, her cousin and her three children Josue, Carlos and Karla. There was no grass anywhere, and Margarita was often sweeping loose dirt off the dirt floor to make the house more presentable. These families became burned in our hearts and minds forever. We were fired up. We felt like advocates of justice, and we wanted to make good things happen in the world. Then, this all came crashing down around us in brutal realization.

Press Release: Coalition Against Commerce Group Mine

60 Community organizations call on Commerce Group to drop its $100 million lawsuit against El Salvador

Milwaukee-based firm suing over decision to block its mining operations after evidence of massive water contamination
First hearing set for November 15 in Washington, DC

Milwaukee, WI,  Washington, DC:
            A coalition of Milwaukee and national organizations called on Commerce Group, a Milwaukee-based mining corporation to drop its controversial $100 million legal case against the government of El Salvador.  58 oorganizations from across the country signed a statement demanding that the case not only be dropped, but that there be cleanup of environmental damages caused by the mine and compensation to victims of mine pollution.  In 2006 the Salvadoran government revoked the company’s mining permits, following evidence that its operations were dumping highly toxic poisons into local water.  In retaliation, Commerce Group filed a demand before a World Bank trade court (the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes, ICSID) demanding not only payment for its investments but also for tens of millions of dollars in what it claims are “lost profits.”  The demand is being filed under the foreign investor “protections” of the U.S.-Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA). The first hearing in the case will take place on November 15 in Washington, D.C.

Friday, November 5, 2010

El Salvador Lodges Complaint with the Guatemalan Government About Attack on Environmental Activists

For the second time in the last three months members of the Center of Investigations into Investment and Commerce (CEICOM), an active member of the National Roundtable against Mineral Mining, have been kidnapped, robbed and left at an abandoned farm while traveling in Guatemala. In both instances the anti-mining activists were traveling to events in Guatemala related to the Cerro Blanco mine.
The Cerro Blanco mine, owned and to be operated by a Guatemalan subsidiary of Gold Corp, is located less than 10 miles from the Salvadoran border in the Guatemalan municipality of Jutiapa. If the project is allowed to continue it poses the risk of contaminated the Guija Lake which is one of the main sources of the Lempa River. The Lempa River supplies water to 65% of El Salvador.
CEICOM has been a leader in forming relationships with local resistance to the mine in Guatemala. During the most recent case they were accompanied by two journalists from the Salvadoran TV station Channel 10.
Picture credit: Diario Co-Latino
Written by Angélica Cárcamo -- Translated by USESSC Staff 
SAN SALVADOR - Three Salvadoran environmentalists from Center of Investigations into Investment and Commerce (CEICOM) and two journalist from Channel 10 were kidnapped and later left on an abandoned farm on October 28th, while they were traveling to the capital of Guatemala. 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Day of the Dead at the Memorial Wall

Every November 2nd, Salvadorans celebrate Day of the Dead, where they go to cemeteries to clean, paint and put flowers on the graves of their loved ones.   Though for many Salvadorans, their is no grave to visit, as their loved ones were disappeared or murdered during the civil war, their bodies dumped in clandestine graveyards or never found.

For that reason, Human Rights organizations in El Salvador hold a ceremony at the Memorial Wall in Parque Cuscatlan.  SHARE Delegates will remember the Memorial Wall as huge monument with 30,000 names of those killed in the Civil War.

The Diario CoLatina published this photo of family members paying tribute to their loved ones at the Memorial Wall this past Tuesday.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The SHARE Board meets with U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador

The Board of Directors traveled this past week to El Salvador for intense strategic planning discussions.  Our new strategic plan is a visionary attempt to position SHARE for its next stage of work.  Watch for more information about this as communication is rolled out soon!

To help frame our strategic planning work, the Board met with partner organizations, office staff from the Berkeley and San Salvador offices, and visited a number of grassroots projects that SHARE supports.  We met with youth who were a part of a leadership development program.  We spoke with women whose coop community had organized a community garden with SHARE’s help.  We met with representatives from women’s empowerment, economic development, and climate change organizations.  Wednesday morning we had the opportunity to visit the US Embassy and to meet with the newly appointed Ambassador, Mari Carmen Aponte.  Only the third woman to have served in this position, Ambassador Aponte warmly greeted our delegation in Spanish.  What a delightful surprise, especially after having met with previous office holders who lacked fluency in the language.

But it wasn’t just this change in ability that caught my attention.  The political changes in El Salvador and the United States seem to have produced a change in tone and emphasis.  Ambassador Aponte and her staff were enthusiastic about the work of SHARE and were interested in creating ways to perhaps partner on future projects.  Additionally they seemed interested in finding ways to reach out to the community of El Salvadorans living in the United States and intrigued by some of SHARE’s new outreach among “hometown associations” in the US.  Who knows what might be possible with the change in administrations.  At the very least, it was a refreshing encounter and one might pave the way for a more open line of communication between the El Salvador Office of SHARE and the embassy.

For more information about the new embassador,

-Contributed by SHARE Board Member, Pastor Jeff Johnson

Friday, October 15, 2010

Youth Assembly in Chalatenango

This article was written by Grassroots Delegations Leader Bethany about her visit to the CCR youth assembly in September.

Since the end of the summer delegation season, I have continued to deepen my understanding of and appreciation for SHARE's work. I have had several opportunities to visit some of SHARE's counterparts, and see their processes of organizing. I particularly enjoyed attending a regional youth assembly in Arcatao, Chalatenango, organized by the CCR, one of CRIPDES' regional offices. Over 200 youth ages fifteen to thirty filled the community center with clapping, laughter, and encouragement. Well designed to keep the youth engaged, the assembly included brief talks on the current national reality and the history of organizing in Chalatenango, a skit about migration presented by a local youth theatre group, an academic competition, and dinámicas throughout.

Facilitators and presenters often wove in reminders of the roots and reality of organizing in Chalatenango, while maintaining the focus on youth as the light of the present and future. The Assembly opened with the national anthem and the anthem of unity: El Pueblo Unido Jamás Será Vencido. A moment of silence followed to remember all of the students who have died and all migrants currently trying to make their way to the United States. Milton Monge, a representative of the local government in Arcatao, began his brief address stressing the need for doctors, nurses, future mayors and legislators, engineers, priests, nuns, and agronomists. At the same time he called on the youth to remember all those that deserved to be present at the assembly, but continue disappeared since the time of the war. Similarly, at the close of her brief analysis on the current moment in El Salvador, María Ofelia Navarrete, Vice Governor of Chalatenango, spoke of her daughter who died during the 1980s. Her daughter wanted very badly to finish sixth grade, but was not able to. María encouraged the students to study hard not so much because of their scholarships, but for those who were not able to go to school.

Monday, October 11, 2010

UCRES Scholarship Students

Meet José Neftaly Valencia, participant in the SHARE-UCRES High School Scholarship and Integral Youth Development Program in Northern San Salvador. Thanks to SHARE’s accompaniment and the support of our US Grassroots base, Neftaly is able to continue his studies and work for community development.

Neftaly is from the community La Joya, a community repopulated by people who fled their homes during the brutal civil war in El Salvador. He lives with both his parents and two sisters in this small, rural community. Neftaly is currently in his third year of technical high school, studying accounting at the National Institute of El Paisnal, the final resting place of Father Rutilio Grande. He is a very dynamic young man that makes one feel immediately at ease and in confianza. Neftaly is the President of the youth committee and in addition to his studies and work as a youth leader, he loves soccer.

Neftaly identifies to two main benefits of his involvement in the youth program: the financial support he and his family receive so he can continue his studies at the high school level, a feat only the minority in El Salvador are able to achieve (the average Salvadoran is able to complete the sixth grade); and having the opportunity to be more involved in regional organization, being organized as a young person, and in participating in youth development.

Neftaly receives a monthly scholarship that covers the costs of transportation to and from class every day, school materials, and a uniform. The program he participates in places emphasis on integral youth development and provides active support and guidance for his youth organizing work in his community. To make all of this possible, SHARE provides a mere $375 per year per student.

As the President of the youth committee, Neftaly helps in the organization of many community activities. One example: the youth committee organizes community movie nights, and uses the proceeds to hold Mother’s Day and Father’s Day celebrations. Neftaly emphasizes that the funds the youth committee raises are not for their own benefit, but for the benefit of the community.

As an evolving leader, Neftaly was invited to participate in an intense three-day training to become a Culture of Peace facilitator. With a focus on youth development, the main objective of these workshops is to prevent violence in the zone. El Salvador has one of the highest homicide rates in the world, an epidemic according to World Health Organization’s standards. In a country where youth have few options—migrate to the United States in search of work or join the gangs—youth working together to seek alternatives is a powerful statement.

Culture of Peace workshops, true to their name, focus on building skills for conflict resolution and peace building, taking the place of anger and violence. These popular education circles also deal with issues relevant and of interest to youth, including sexual and reproductive rights, STDs, youth organizing. Neftaly now leads youth groups in twelve communities in his municipality through this transformative process.

Because of his work in community and regional development and organizing, Neftaly has been selected to participate in a Catholic Youth Exchange in Austria this November. This has motivated him to continue his work and help others realize their potential. His dream? To study medicine at the university level and work in his community as a health promoter, to provide this basic service to those who need it but cannot offer financial remuneration.

When we ask Neftaly what he likes to do in his free time, he smiles and hesitates. “It’s really hard for me sometimes,” he says. “With my studies, sometimes the clock hits one in the morning and I still haven’t gone to bed.” But despite his own sacrifice and the many challenges he faces as a youth leader, he likes working in organization and supporting others: “so that young people learn, and are able to share their own perspectives, to see that there are benefits to being organized, and that we have no limits as youth.”

With your support, SHARE is able to accompany this amazing young leader, who in turn is able to accompany dozens of other young people as they develop and grow. Please continue to help us make this work possible, which is changing the future of El Salvador and the lives of thousands of people!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Effects of Hurricane Matthew in Tecoluca

Due to rains from Hurricane Matthew and a following low pressure system, brining chilly weather, grey skies and almost non-stop storms for over a week, many communities in El Salvador have flooded once again.  The squatters community of Bendición de Díos in Tecoluca was overcome by water in the middle of the night and forced to seek shelter in a nearby public school.  Over 100 people have stayed in this temporary shelter for five days, walking to the river that destroyed their homes to wash themselves and their clothes as the school has no running water, sleeping on four-inch thick mattresses on the schoolroom floor, and counting on the organization of CRIPDES San Vicente for food. Bendición de Díos is located between two small rivers and has been declared a non-inhabitable area.  Working with different government institutions, CRIPDES has found a place for these 30 families to resettle once the waters subside.  

Just down the highway, in San Carlos Lempa, another 50 people are sheltered in the CRIPDES offices.  A city council member stops by the shelter on his way to assess the flooded community, to decide whether people can return.  The sun has finally come out, and although many of the streets that run through this community still resemble mud puddles more than roads, the homes are dry, and people would prefer to sleep in their own beds and resume their lives the following day.  And there are those that see the bright side of the rains:  a handful of children from this community have stayed behind to swim and play in the temporary pools created by a weeks worth of rain.  They'll need to bathe well afterwards, but certainly enjoy this afternoon splashing and cannon-balling.  

Friday, October 1, 2010

On Beginning at SHARE

This reflection was written by Bethany Loberg, our new Grassroots Sistering Coordinator.  Bethany writes about her first few months at SHARE with our summer delegations.

I arrived in El Salvador in the midst of Tropical Storm Agatha and began at SHARE the last day of May. My new room and various other parts of Casa Clara had flooded, and visits out to the various regions the SHARE Grassroots program partners with hung in the air due to intense flooding. My house mates and I knew the flooding at our house was only a minor nuisance compared to communities settled on flood planes and families living in houses cobbled together from sheets of tin and cardboard boxes.

In spite of being greeted by torrential downpours and the resulting national emergency, I felt excited to begin at SHARE, as I saw coming SHARE as a continuation of a path that has called me for much of my life. Social justice and human rights have caught my attention for as long as I can remember. I became more and more drawn to U.S. Foreign policy towards Latin America in particular from eighth grade on, through my participation in the School of the Americas protest in Ft. Benning Georgia, and the local SOA Watch group. 

Monday, September 27, 2010

Hurricane Matthew Causes Heavy Rains; El Salvador Continues on Orange Alert

El Salvador continues on Yellow Alert, with the Coastal and Central Mountain zones on Orange Alert, due to heavy rains provoked by Hurricane Matthew. Rains began on Friday as Hurricane Matthew developed off the Atlantic Nicaraguan Coast and continued heavily throughout the weekend, causing torrential downpours in El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua. As Matthew becomes a Tropical Depression along the Southern Mexican Coast, the National Service of Territorial Studies (SNET) projects that heavy rains will continue through Tuesday and encourages Civil Protection committees to remain on alert.

This storm comes after five months of continuous heavy rains. Soil is already saturated and flooding, mudslides, and evacuations have been common in this rainy season. Throughout the country, farmers have lost their season's crops and, in areas like the Lower Lempa River basin, communities have decided to wait until the end of the rainy season to plant. Because of heavy rains in Honduras and Guatemala, which feed into the Lempa River and its tributaries, flood risk remains high for communities along all major rivers.

According to Civil Protection, there have been 47 landslides over the weekend, causing damages to highways and bridges; one death has been reported in El Salvador; and some 900 people are currently in shelters.  According to the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (MARN), the municipality of Tecoluca, where SHARE counterpart CRIPDES San Vicente is located, is at high risk for flooding, and various municipalities in Chalatenango are at moderate risk, along with some thirty other zones of the country. As continued rains fall, risk for flooding and landslides increase.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Spotlighting Sisters: Cretin-Derham Hall, Teaching and Living for Justice

Thank you to SHARE promoter, Phelia Lorenzen, for writing this Spotlighting Sister article for us. Thanks to the teachers and students at CDH for their support in writing it! 

Affirmation of an old adage: How one step towards a quest leads to a lifelong journey.

CDH kids at the river in San Vicente
A few years ago, a few students from Cretin-Derham Hall (CDH hereafter), a Catholic high school in St. Paul, Minnesota, were invited to attend a delegation to El Salvador with Brother Dennis Beach of St. John’s Abbey. CDH is committed to the Catholic social teaching of justice, and students were curious about Brother Dennis' passion for this tiny Latin American country. One step. Today, CDH is committed to accompanying the people of El Salvador. Each summer, one or two delegations of students travel to the department of San Vicente. Through SHARE and CRIPDES San Vicente, they stay in the community, play with the kids, share stories with young people, visit historic sites, stand in the chapel where Archbishop Romero was murdered, walk the blood-soaked grounds of El Mozote, and learn about advocacy actions they can take at home. The journey begins. These young adults are transformed and will take social justice to the highest level wherever their lives take them. A lifelong journey.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

"We welcome justice!" Tribunal Convicts Material Perpetrators of Marcelo Rivera's Assassination

The SHARE Foundation applauds this important step forward in seeking justice for all victims, past and present, of violent political and economic repression. We thank and congratulate the tireless efforts of the National Working Group against Metallic Mining, the communities and organizations of Cabañas, and the efforts of the international solidarity community in supporting this ongoing struggle.

"We welcome justice!"
Tribunal Convicts Material Perpetrators of Marcelo Rivera's Assassination
by the Communications Team of the National Roundtable against Metallic Mining
The Specialized Sentencing Court "B" convicted the material assassins of Gustavo Marcelo Rivera Moreno, after concluding a two-day public hearing.  After hearing some twenty testimonies and declarations from an accomplice under plea bargain, whose statements were corroborated by official evidence, the tribunal sentenced the perpetrators to 40 years in prison.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Residential Voting in El Salvador

Campesino casting his vote
What if you had to ride various busses three hours to vote? Would you still vote? This is the reality for the people who live in the communities on the Tamarindo Beach in La Union, El Salvador. On voting day, the nearest poll where they can vote is in the town of Conchagua, which is a three hour bus ride from where they live.

Or take for example the residents of the Ciudad Corinto, a middle class residential neighborhood of mostly confiminiums in Mejicanos. The nearest voting center for those residents would be in the Montreal neighborhood, where intense gang violence has increased in recent months, as we saw with the burning of a bus with passengers aboard in June. Would you venture into one of the most dangerous neigborhoods in El Salvador to vote?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Support the Dream Act: Call your Senator!

Senator Reid will be moving the DREAM Act to a vote via an amendment to the Defense Authorization Bill

What does this mean?

It means that the DREAM Act still needs 60 votes to pass. We still need 60 senators to say yes when it comes time for the bill to be attached to the defense bill.

What can you do to help?

We need calls right now. We need to flood offices with calls in support of the DREAM Act. Currently we are being beat by anti-immigrants 10 calls to 1. That means for every 1 call you make in support 10 people are calling against the DREAM Act.


Dial: 1-888-254-8057

Ask for the following people and leave a message with their office.

Call-in Script for Republicans:

“Hi I am calling to ask that Senator _______ vote for the DREAM Act. This bill will allow for undocumented youth to fix their status by serving this country in the uniformed services in addition to allowing for them to return the investment our country has made in them. Please have the member support the dream act.”

Sen. Hatch of Utah
Sen. Bunning of Kentucky
Sen. Bennet of Utah
Sen. Gregg of New Hampshire
Sen. Bailey-Hutchison of Texas
Sen. McCain of Arizona
Sen. Voinovich of Ohio
Sen. Snowe of Maine
Sen. Collins of Maine
Sen. LeMeiux of Florida
Sen. Brownback of Kansas

Call-in script for Democrats:

“Hi I am calling to ask that Senator _______ vote in favor of the DREAM Act. This bill will allow for thousands of undocumented youth to fix their status by getting a two year college degree or joining the military. This is an investment in our countries future. Support the DREAM Act.”

Sen. Hagan of North Carolina
Sen. Pryor of Arkansas
Sen. Landrieu of Louisiana
Sen. Conrad of North Dakota
Sen. Dorgan of North Dakota
Sen. Nelson of Florida
Sen. Baucus of Montana
Sen. Tester of Montana
Sen. Feinstein of California
The National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities (NALACC) has been supportive of the DREAM Act, either as a combo, or as a stand-alone piece of legislation, since our founding days in 2004. While NALACC recognizes the DREAM Act as a far from perfect piece of legislation, if passed, it would enable many young immigrants in the U.S. to be able to apply for legal permanent residency, and eventually for U.S. citizenship if so they wish. We are convinced that passing the DREAM Act would also contribute greatly to the future involvement of young immigrants in the struggle to truly fix, from head to toe, our broken, inhumane and wasteful immigration policy of today.