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 Committee has maintained a steady pace of activities supporting projects helpful to people and communities in the rural San Vicente region of El Salvador. The fall fundraising campaign raised $8,920 from 34 giving individuals and families. Once again, you showed your commitment to this unique international outreach program. Your generosity is very much appreciated.
In the fall, the Committee made grants of $9,030. A little over $4,000 was designated for construction of 16 composting latrines in Miramar, our sister community. These latrines will replace existing ones (not funded by us) built without steel reinforcing rods years ago; they’re crumbling now because of seismic activity. The new latrines will upgrade hygiene and personal privacy for residents.
A grant of $2,500 to the community of Llano Grande Segundo will allow adding partial walls and a concrete floor to a meeting pavilion funded in 2015. Sadly, as 2017 ended, high winds damaged the pavilion. Soon the Friends of El Salvador Committee will consider additional funding so the dollars sent for the upgrade won’t be reallocated to repairs.
A third grant, also of $2,500, was made to Fe y Alegría (“Faith and Joy”), a Catholic- nonprofit organization our visitation team met with last May. Fe y Alegría offers free vocational educational courses ranging from computing to automotive repair. With our grant they’re planning to offer occupational preparation classes in baking, and hair and salon services. These classes will be given in, or nearby Miramar.
Ruth Nohemy, whose educational costs were paid by the generous support of a member of Faith Weavers, graduated last November. Ruth’s success is very encouraging to all of us, and the Friends of El Salvador Committee recently decided to offer another college scholarship.
This scholarship is specifically intended for a student from Miramar or an adjacent community. We hope it will not only transform career and life opportunities for one student, but also present a visible, local role model to youth in Miramar. Unfortunately, many of these young people currently don’t recognize higher education as an option.
The Committee is working in collaboration with the Salvadoran Lutheran University in this effort. While funding possibilities remain open, the Committee is moving forward to identify a highly qualified scholarship recipient.
In coming weeks the Committee will meet to consider making additional grants. Projects we are considering include the purchase of microscopes, and musical instruments for the Guajoyo School, and expanding the lighting project for Miramar with the purchase of several enhanced illumination solar lamps. We are also considering purchasing carpentry tools for a training program for people in Miramar. No doubt quite a few other proposals will be reviewed as well
The Committee also will review developments in the communities with which we partner, and the outlook for social and political changes to improve living standards in El Salvador.
Pictures from the village of Miramar
|Street scene in Miramar||Cacao and Coffee Field|
|Solar lights being installed in Miramar|
|Example of latrines built in Miramar
Pictures from Guajoyo School
Friends of El Salvador delegation with children at Guajoy School
|Group of children at the Guajoy School||Folkloric Dance Troupe of Guajoy School|
Pictures from Llano Grande
|Friends of El Salvador visiting delegation with residence of Llano Grande||A home in the village of Llano Grande|
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.
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