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 most significant recent activity of the Friends of El Salvador Committee has been the planning and
implementation of a team visit to El Salvador in May and the extensive follow up to it. Elizabeth Hernandez, Robert Knapp, Tom Moore, Mike Pisani, and Kim Summers made the trip on behalf of the Committee. In particular, the team visited our sister community of Miramar, the nearby Guajoyo School, and the community of Llano Grande Segundo, all within the rural San Vicente area of the country.
The visit was highly productive and met its objectives of renewing relationships and discussing with grant beneficiaries and key Salvadoran partners the current conditions, status of recently funded projects, and opportunities for the Friends of El Salvador to contribute to future positive developments. The larger goal, of course, was to support Faith Weavers’ commitment to international outreach and charitable giving. For members of the visit team, it was rewarding to observe first-hand the considerable evidence of progress and to recognize again how helpful modest grants of funds from our donors can be for improving peoples’ lives.
In Miramar the solar lighting project funded last December, implementation of which is just about complete, is already being regarded by the regional government and by other local communities as a model of sustainable enhancement of security. Twenty lamps on poles are beginning to light common areas and key sections of paths in the community. This project is valuably combining with other programs, such as a government-supported reforestation project as well as major agricultural improvements, impressively advancing conditions in the community.
At the Guajoyo School several funded projects are still being implemented, including: construction of an outdoor area for students to eat and socialize, a combined basketball/soccer court, and perimeter fence repair. Two especially enjoyable experiences for participants in the recent visit were playing ping-pong with students on a table purchased with grant funds from the Committee and attending an excellent performance by the student Modern and Folkloric Dance Troupe wearing beautiful costumes also purchased with dollars sent by us.
This summer Ruth Nohemy, a former student recipient of a Friends of El Salvador high school scholarship, achieved a special milestone by completing a Bachelor of Social Work degree at the Universidad Luterana Salvadoreña in the capital city of San Salvador. During five years of university study, her school expenses were wholly paid through Faith Weavers by a wonderfully generous member who’d met her during an earlier Friends of El Salvador visit. And now opportunities exist for support of additional university students if there’s donor interest.
The Friends of El Salvador Committee will meet in early fall. Funding requests to be considered might include replacement of the water supply system in Miramar, purchase of added Kindles or other electronic learning devices for the Guajoyo School, and improvements to the meeting shelter previously built with a Committee grant in Llano Grande Segundo.
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.