Connect2 El Salvador News

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1 Julia holds one of the Christmas cards sent by parishes in Crawley, Witney, Malton, Pocklington, Aldridge, Leicester, West Bridgford and Chandlers Ford. Connect2 El Salvador News Carlos and Vicente on their way to school at the start of the new term. Carlos sister, Sandra, visited England and Wales with CAFOD last year. Spring 2014

2 Dear Friends, Warm greetings from CAFOD, the Jesuit Development Service and the farming community of Puentecitos in El Salvador. We are pleased to send you some news from Puentecitos and the surrounding region and share with you some highlights of the work we have achieved together over the last year. We hope you enjoy reading about how things are progressing. THANK YOU for your solidarity with Puentecitos and other farming communities in western El Salvador where CAFOD, the JDS and your parish are present. Sarah Smith-Pearse, Latin America team, CAFOD Photo credits: CAFOD, the Jesuit Development Service and the University of Central America (UCA)

3 Ten farming communities where CAFOD and the Jesuit Development Service (JDS) are working with support from our parish El Carmen El Rosario Puentecitos Los García Tapahuasuya Cachagua Los Mata Los Pineda Las Cuevitas Los Ramírez plus 64 other communities supported by JDS with CAFOD s sister agencies Puentecitos, JDS and CAFOD in western El Salvador

4 News from Puentecitos: building a new chapel Fidel We dream of improving the House of our Lord Here in Puentecitos, we want to improve our house of prayer. It is very small, you may have noticed, and it gets very crowded. In emergency situations, like floods and earthquakes, we use the church as a place of refuge. As a Catholic community, we dream of improving the House of our Lord and we feel better. We hope more people will join. Building the chapel demonstrates that we are brothers and sisters. Eight years ago, there was a big earthquake and we had to repair a 5cm crack in the wall. Two doors down, the house had collapsed completely. It was made of adobe mud bricks and it made us realise that adobe construction is vulnerable, because here the earth is always moving. We didn t really have the courage to start the building project because it s expensive. But last year, we began to get organised and talked to people about the project to see if we could work together. What really struck us was that some families were really poor, but still gave their offering. People with very little money supported us. And then we thought, Why can t we do the project that we dreamed of. The women s group has been working almost non-stop, selling cakes and typical dishes like tamales and quesadillas to raise funds. And then in January, we said: Now it s time to start.

5 The whole community is getting behind Fidel who is leading the project. Fidel (centre) with Sarah from CAFOD and Erasmo from JDS, in February as the new chapel walls go up. Cracks in the old chapel, caused by earthquakes Fidel is excited about progress on the new chapel

6 News from Puentecitos: building a new chapel Ignacio - We don t get to heaven without doing good work here on earth I think the community project is a good project. It benefits many people. One day, we will leave this world and go somewhere, but we don t get to heaven without doing good work here on earth. This will be our salvation. For me, the chapel is an example of good work. I gave US$22 for the church building project. I m a farmer and I grow corn, so I raised the money from the crops I sold. I am proud to be part of this great project. My advice for other fundraisers is to pick and choose your activities. It s important to be organised and to have good leadership. And then you can achieve a lot. UK youth leaders, Kathryn, Angela, Mel and James, visited El Salvador in January with CAFOD s Step into the Gap programme. They helped prepare the chapel foundations and donated funds from their parishes. Part of the money was used to buy iron bars to stabilise the walls and protect them from future earthquakes.

7 Kathryn, Angela and James, youth leaders from Salford, Lancaster and Hexham & Newcastle dioceses helping to prepare the foundations Ignacio shows James the corn he is selling to raise money for the new chapel Ignacio sells corn to raise funds for the church

8 What we have achieved over the last year Our parish, CAFOD and Jesuit Development Service Helping communities withstand the impact of flooding, droughts and hurricanes All 10 communities, including Puentecitos, have drawn risk maps to identify potential climate hazards and carry out the necessary preparation and training. All 10 villages, including Puentecitos, have received rescue and evacuation equipment, including megaphones, wheelbarrows, wellies, rope, shovels and torches. 3 pedestrian bridges have been built by the JDS and local volunteers to enable people to cross the river safely in the rainy season. The bridges benefit the communities of Tapahuasuya, Los Ramirez and El Carmen. 600 fruit frees have been donated to families in Las Cuevitas, Los Pineda, Los Garcia and Los Ramirez as a contribution to community reforestation days. In spite of the drought, 78% families produced enough corn for their annual consumption. But only 32% of families produced enough beans. There is more work to be done.

9 Children on the bridge in Tapahuasuya, one of three new bridges enabling people to cross the river safely during the rainy season In Cachagua, 10-year-old Aracely shows us the new rescue and evacuation equipment for use in the event of floods and earthquakes Stronger in the face of floods and earthquakes

10 What we have achieved over the last year Our parish, CAFOD and Jesuit Development Service Strengthening farming and small businesses 9 new businesses are being developed in Puentecitos, Cachagua, Los Pineda and El Carmen to help families generate extra income. The businesses, run mainly by women, are producing soap, shampoo, baskets, metal work, typical food and natural medicine. 10 new savings and loans groups have been formed in Las Cuevitas, Los Garcia and Cachagua, as the basis for further business development. Puentecitos and 15 other villages have expanded a collective trading project and are getting a better price for their crops. Farmers have seen a 22% increase in their profits from selling corn - an extra US $4 for every sack of corn sold. The JDS has provided ongoing training in chicken breeding, based on low tech/ low cost methods. In Puentecitos, Sibia and her Nueva Esperanza group have set up a chicken farm and received an egg incubator to hatch eggs, which is benefiting the surrounding communities.

11 Chickens and baskets in Puentecitos. Coconut sweets in Cachagua.

12 Some national news El Salvador has a new president-elect, Salvador Sánchez Cerén, from the leftist FMLN party The new president-elect, Salvador Sánchez Cerén is from the leftist FMLN party, which has been in power for the last four years. The elections were fiercely fought in two rounds, in February and March. The FMLN presented a political agenda focused on education, health, pensions and support to small farmers and businesses. ARENA, the main opposition party, campaigned on the issue of crime and violence and promised to act with a heavy hand against gangs. It was widely predicted that the FMLN would win an easy victory, but the final result showed a margin of just 0.11% (6,364 votes). ARENA contested the result, accusing the FMLN of electoral fraud. But after a thorough recount, the result was confirmed. CAFOD s partner, the UCA (Jesuit-run University of Central America), issued a statement expressing confidence in the electoral process and urging the two parties to work together. For our partners in El Salvador, an FMLN government offers a better prospect of investment in social welfare programmes in support of the poorest and most vulnerable communities.

13 Examples of CAFOD s work across El Salvador The health clinic in Guarjila, a CAFOD partner in northern El Salvador. The clinic has been heralded by government as a model for communitybased healthcare across the country and is now receiving state funding to expand its geographical reach. A mural shows the violence of the Salvadoran civil war ( ), when the army waged a scorched earth policy against communities caught in the conflict zones. The mural is in the parish of Arcatao, northern El Salvador, where CAFOD is supporting a process of truth and justice, including the exhumation and dignified burial of war victims. Our wider work includes health and human rights

14 Archbishop Romero Anniversary commemoration events in England and Wales, 24 March March 2014 was the anniversary of the death of Oscar Romero, the Archbishop of San Salvador, who died 34 years ago. He was assassinated by the army for speaking out against the violence and repression of Salvadoran people. This year, many communities in England and Wales, including Cardiff, Newcastle, Sheffield, Birmingham, Liverpool, Cambridge and London, organised events to commemorate Romero s life. Now that Pope Francis has confirmed that the beatification process for Archbishop Romero has been unblocked, communities throughout El Salvador and here in England and Wales are hopeful that this will soon come about. Here are some photos taken in February, when CAFOD s youth leaders visited the Divine Providence chapel where Romero was killed and San Salvador cathedral where his body is buried.

15 CAFOD s youth leaders sit before the altar at the hospital chapel where Romero was killed Pilgrims pray at Romero s tomb in San Salvador cathedral Juana after Mass beside Romero s tomb: For many of us, he was like a father. His crime was to fight for people to have good salaries, food and education and to be treated with dignity. It s his right that the Church recognises him as a saint. Remembering Romero

16 Reflecting on Solidarity Solidarity refers to something more than a few sporadic acts of generosity. It presumes the creation of a new mindset which thinks in terms of community and the priority of the life of all over the appropriation of goods by a few. Pope Francis 2013 Evangelii Gaudium 188 Farmers from villages supported by CAFOD and the JDS organise a campaign for free and clean water. The banner reads: Water shouldn t be sold. It should be defended Connect2 El Salvador an expression of solidarity

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