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 http://idealist.org/if/i/en/av/Internship/163467-56.  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 sharesf@share-elsalvador.org 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.