In the late 1990s members of the faith community now known as Faith Weavers of St. Mary established a sister-parish relationship with the small community of Miramar in El Salvador. The purposes of this outreach are to raise global and cultural awareness and provide charitable support in a relationship guided by the Gospel message of caring for others.
Over the years we have developed a friendship with the people on Miramar through bi-annual visit to their village by members of the Friends of El Salvador Committee. Committee members have enjoyed the warm hospitality of Miramar’s residents and learned of their struggles to provide a good life for their people and a good future for their children.
As part of a relationship of mutual benefit, we have offered financial support to help improve the lives of Miramar’s residents. We have provided donations of clothing, toiletries, medicines and funds for fertilizer to raise crops. We have provided money to improve their village infrastructure. They used this money to add electricity in the village and sanitary latrines. With our funds they have constructed a soccer field for the children, and a chapel. We have also provided scholarships for their children, and children of others communities, to attend high school.
Over the years the outreach of the Friends of El Salvador Committee has extended beyond Miramar. The Committee has funded construction of approximately 120 concrete block, composting latrines in eight villages in the San Vicente region of El Salvador. These latrines improve living conditions for hundreds of people who had no sanitary facilities.
We have also provided significant aid to the communities of Milagro de Dios and Llano Grande II and we have supported the K-9 Guajoyo School that serves the village of Miramar and three other communities. In Llano Grande II we have provided funds to repair 25 homes and the construction of latrines.
We have provided funds for repairs and educational projects at the Guajoyo School. The whole school has been painted and roofs on some buildings have been repaired along with upgrades to toilet facilities. We have also funded a Technology and Science Project for the seventh grade class. This project establishes a Science Corner in the classroom with microscopes, test tubes, magnifying glasses and other equipment to conduct experiments. Our support for the school is on-going.
The Friends of El Salvador will continue supporting the community of Miramar as it expands support for other communities as possible. Future grants will focus on improving infrastructure and educational projects. More importantly, we want to strengthen our solidarity with the Salvadoran people so they know us as friends and not just “Americans” or “foreigners.” Our relationship with the rural poor in El Salvador helps us understand the complexities of life in a developing nation and the essential cross-cultural commonalities we all share.
The Friends of El Salvador Committee is actively pursuing its purpose of international outreach and charity on behalf of the Faith Weavers’ community.
In its October meeting the Friends approved $24,666 for the funding of the Miramar solar-powered lighting project studied for the last year and for six projects, ranging from purchase of teaching materials to construction of a basketball court, at the nearby Guajoyo School. The Miramar project will provide 20 motion-detecting lamps for increasing security and safety at night in the center of the community. The funds were received in El Salvador in late 2016, and we understand projects are underway.
The fall Faith Weavers’ fundraising campaign, which concluded in early December, was a success. Here are a couple details: 31 individuals and families contributed, yielding a total of $7,335 (a revision of a lesser figure announced by email earlier). These dollars will add importantly to our capacity to fund projects benefiting Salvadoran communities this year. Thanks again to the recent donors and to all Faith Weavers for the collective support.
Recently we received a report from our Salvadoran member, Elizabeth Hernandez, on highly positive recent developments in Miramar, our sister community. The developments follow the murders of Francisco, the community president, and his daughter Rosa in June 2015, a reflection of the gang violence endemic in the nation in recent years. Since then, under the leadership of the new president, Miguel Cruz, the community has worked closely with the National Police to bolster security and otherwise taken important steps to enhance community pride and progress. Residents have committed to maintain a safe, clean, and attractive community. They’re participating in a reforestation project funded by the government with most of the work performed by residents, and they’ve begun a child care center to accommodate small children so the parents can work.
(the Cruz family: left to right: Edelmira, Heri, with the CMU ball cap, Miguel, and Roberto, a child the Cruz’s have taken in)
The continuing relationship with us as Faith Weavers and our financial support can reinforce these excellent community development actions in Miramar. The community is always enthusiastic in expressing how much residents value our fellowship and help.
In the October meeting there was discussion about the outlook for a visit to El Salvador, the last of which was in November 2014. In the past biennial delegation visits have been instrumental for developing and maintaining relationships, ensuring accountability for funded projects, and exploring opportunities for projects worthy of the support of our donors. Unfortunately the general climate of gang violence, while now greatly reduced in Miramar, has deterred the delegation visit that ordinarily would’ve occurred this past November. Nevertheless, preliminary planning is now underway for a visit by a few experienced El Salvador travelers later this spring. Such a visit will be helpful as we consider initiatives for the next couple years. Look for news about this in the months ahead!
Are you interested in participating in the Friends of El Salvador Committee? If so, contact us here.
Participation in the Friends of El Salvador offers an opportunity to learn as well as to show care and concern for Salvadorans not blessed by the prosperity and other advantages experienced by most of us.
To support the activities of the Friends of El Salvador please send your check to:
Faith Weavers of St. Mary
2020 South Mission Street
Mount Pleasant, MI 48858-4425
Write “Friends of El Salvador” in the memo portion of the check.
You can also make a donation to help fund Friends of El Salvador via PayPal.