Solidarity with El Salvador


by pjals Friday, Feb 28, 2014 | 10:22pm | Comment on this

Hermanas Spokane and Camp Salvador Counselors are raising money for the library of Huisisilapa:

Dinner and Auction: Saturday, March 8, at The Community School 1300 W. Knox. Tickets: $10 (a donation accepted for families). Doors open at 5:00 pm; 6:00 pm Live auction; 6:15 pm Program.

Women of Huisi, El SalvadorHuisisilapa (we-si-si-la-pa) is a community of former refugees from Mesa Grande in Honduras as a result of the Salvadoran Civil War.  The last refugees to repopulate El Salvador from the refugee camp went to  an area known as Huisisilapa (Huisi).  The area was pastor land without as much as one outbuilding and of course no infrastructure.

The people arrived in Huisi April 1, 1992, to begin rebuilding their lives.  They had lost everything during the war.

In the deconstruction of Mesa Grande they transported reusable materials to begin building in Huisi.  Initially the shelters were built with recycled wood, tin, and plastic.  Eventually the international community helped finance the construction of simple cement block homes with latrines behind the homes.  The materials of the old homes were then used to build the kitchens.  Many people now have been able to build additions to their homes with money their family members have sent them from working here in the states.  The community has continued to build infrastructure now having a water system, electricity, woman’s co-op building, a clinic/community building and a school.

In 2001 PJALS member Phyllis Andersen lived in Huisi for 6 months to interview women leaders and get acquainted with the village people.  The women expressed that they were raised ignorant, meaning they had little or no formal education and few opportunities to experience life outside their roles as women to raise children, cook and serve the men.  During their years in the refugee camp they participated in trainings, literacy activities, and community organizing in which they accepted some leadership roles.  Given opportunities to lead, these women blossomed.

Soon after settling in Huisisilapa the community leaders began working to establish a school.  They collaborated with the Ministry of Education in El Salvador and developed a school system through 9th grade.  Many young people wanted to continue to study and obtain a high school diploma.  They had to have money for transportation, tuition and lunch, which was not possible for most.  The community leaders began work on establishing a high school program.  The Ministry of Education required a computer lab, an additional classroom, instructional materials, new desks, etc.  The demands were not unreasonable for a high school program but unaffordable to the community.

Hermanas Spokane, along with a group of high school students from Lewis and Clark and St. George’s School and their families, decided to adopt Huisi to support their educational efforts.  Eighteen people from Spokane each took a computer to Huisi donated by St. George’s School.  In addition Rotary International donated $2,000 for desks and curriculum materials.  Thus a conditional high school program was born with volunteer teachers.  The community continued to pressure the Ministry of Education for accreditation and financial support.  After 3 years representatives from the ministry visited the school and were amazed with what they had accomplished and granted them accreditation for the high school program.

Hermanas Spokane has been in solidarity with Huisi for the past 12 years supporting women leaders and the school’s educational goals.  In November 2013 the eighth high school graduation was celebrated.  Phyllis Andersen was honored having the graduation ceremony in her name.  Phyllis credits all of the people from Spokane who have assisted in supporting the efforts of the Huisi school personnel in their endeavors.  The next educational goal of the community is to build a library to house internet connections, curriculum materials as well as many books.

Hermanas Spokane created a committee called Camp Salvador in which selected high school students from the Spokane area are invited to collaborate with selected high school students in Huisi to together run a day camp for middle school young people in Huisi.  The first Camp in the summer of 2014 proved to be highly successful.  The community is excited for the second camp to be held the summer of 2014.

Students from both cultures plan games, songs, dances and crafts to first teach each other and then teach the younger students.  The students from the US are challenged to communicate and teach in Spanish.  The students in El Salvador were challenged to understand the concept of camp and be leaders.   This cross-cultural experience is enriching for our students from the states as well as for the Salvadorans.

Together Hermanas Spokane and Camp Salvador Counselors are sponsoring a dinner auction to raise money for the library:

Dinner and Auction: Saturday, March 8, at The Community School 1300 W. Knox. Tickets: $10 (a donation accepted for families). Doors open at 5:00 pm; 6:00 pm Live auction; 6:15 pm Program.

All of proceeds from the dinner and auction will go directly to support the library; all donations are tax deductible.  All travel and Camp Salvador expenses are paid by the volunteers and Hermanas Spokane does not have any paid staff.  Checks can be made out to Hermanas Spokane and mailed to 1737 W. 10th, #2, Spokane, WA  99204 or donate via Pay Pal at www.HermanasSpokane.org

 

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