I’ve been wanting to write this post forever, but I just haven’t known how. Out of all of the wonderful people and groups I had the privilege of meeting in El Salvador, the Co-Madres were by far the ladies I connected with the most. In fact, I’m pretty sure I dropped my heart right on the floor of their office at some point in the morning and I just decided to leave it with them. August 15th would have been Monsenor Oscar Romero‘s 96th birthday and on my hunt to find a good quote of his, I came across this blog. These women have been helping to document the incredible story of the Comadres- the first human rights organization in El Salvador.
Their most recent post linked to an article about Pati, the director of the Comadres. She took a trip to the east coast in May to tell their story and I was super excited to find it all written down. I could feel my heart pump faster all the way from San Salvador as I read through this. Pati was the woman who sat with us and told us the story of the organization (as well as her own experiences of the war) so I feel extremely connected with her in particular. If you have a second, I highly suggest giving this a read to better understand why I am so taken by these women. I don’t know if I’ve ever felt stronger towards anything before.
Have you ever had this feeling?
Where does your heart lie?
When I was in El Salvador we met with a group of individuals that were focused on bringing attention to the countries ecological state. Do you know that if that if nothing is done about their water situation, the entire country will be out of fresh water in less than 5 years? Seriously. And this is a country where many homes don’t have running water and bathrooms don’t have flushing toilets. Much of country doesn’t even have easily accessible water and while small villages are trying to figure out a way to reach water, their supply is quickly diminishing. Which is why I really have to tell you about Freewaters.
Freewaters is a company selling shoes. They sell sandals and shoes fit for summer/vacation life for both men and women. They have some cute, fun styles and a wonderful mission statement. Each shoe you buy directly supports clean drinking water projects around the world. In fact, they’re able to provide water for one person for one year for each pair of shoes purchased!
I’m heading on a little beach vaca at the end of the month, and I think it may be time to buy one of these. What do you think?
Thanks to all who Amy B., the Shabby Apple winner! Thanks to all who entered to win some free moola to Shabby Apple! I have a few more little giveaways planned for this summer, so keep your eyes peeled!
Let’s rewind life alllll the way back to early June when I was in El Salvador. In keeping up with my promise to share what I’ve learned, here’s a little bit about another awesome company doing good in El Sal.
Shicali Ceramica is a beautiful little place that makes their own ceramics in San Salvador. Everything is handmade by ACOGIPRI cooperative members. ACOGIPRI is a cooperative founded in 1981 with the idea of creating a safe and educational place of work for young people with physical disabilities. Managed by the workers themselves, Shicali has built it’s way from a small learning center into a full production ceramic workshop.
Everyone who worked there was so kind and so happy. Walking in you really got the feeling that everyone enjoyed the time they spent at work. That feeling alone made our group even more excited to spend some time with everyone. We were lucky enough to have the opportunity to walk around the workshop and learn about the process of making ceramic pieces. Two of our own even got a little lesson!
It really was a beautiful moment. That man right there, one of Shicali’s wonderful workers, is blind and deaf. He is a pottery pro and spends his days making about 40 or so pieces and he was happy to take a little break to show us how it was done. He explained the process with physical touch, while Jasmine explained in Spanish and our friend Elba translated it all back to English for all of us. So you must excuse me as a wipe a few tears from my eyes because when I say that it was a beautiful moment, I sincerely believe that it was. Just another little special moment from our trip.
Unfortunately I believe they have stopped shipping their products to America, but you can always contact them (in Spanish!) if you have any questions or special requests!
Has anyone else ever been to an organization like this one?
Do you know how to work a pottery wheel?
Are you willing to teach me your ways?
I’ve been thinking a lot about how I want to document my trip on this blog. Like I said, I feel like my experience this year wasn’t typical of mission trips because I didn’t physically “do” anything to share with you guys. I had the rare opportunity to meet so many beautiful people and hear from a lot of wonderful organizations during my time there and I’d like to share my newfound knowledge. To keep my posts from getting to 800 words, I decided that for the next few Mondays I’m going to highlight a group or organization that I learned from in El Salvador. First up- Crispaz.
Crispaz is a faith based organization dedicated to solidarity and peace. They host encounters like the one I was able to be a part of. “The focus of the El Salvador Encounter program is not only to develop a greater knowledge of El Salvador as a whole, but also to develop an understanding of the people and to build relationships.” (via)
Now I’m not a very religious person so you won’t be hearing about that in these posts. But I am a believer of peace and justice and the importance of solidarity. I can passionately say that I believe in the Crispaz mission of service in solidarity over charity. I’ve heard a lot of horror stories about rich Americans heading into underprivileged areas for a week or so, building something the american way and then heading back home to tell their friends about what a good thing they just did. The problem here isn’t that people want to help, the problem is that many want to help in a way that fits them, not those they are helping. Different cultures live in different ways. They put importance on different things, they build using different materials, they use their money in different ways. The best way to help others is to get to know them, to truly live in solidarity with them. If you’d like to learn more about why I feel that way, please read this article by Jo Ann Van Engen. It’s not that physically doing something for others is bad, it’s just that in doing so we often forget about the importance of sustainable living. Crispaz works to educate us so that we can build relationships with poor and marginalized communities of El Salvador.
Have you ever participated in an experience like this?
How do you feel about this view of service?
What will I be doing on said trip, you ask? Well. I don’t exactly know. This trip is run through the university I work for and technically I’m a chaperone (hilarious. I’m a 25 year old baby! But completely reliable, parents!) I don’t “run” or “plan” the trips. A coordinator does all of the leg work and I get trained to go along for the ride. I handle money and emergencies but other than that I am part of the group, participating in all of the same activities as the students I’m with.
Some trips concentrate on physical service (like my mornings in Honduras last year) while others concentrate on the service of being present (similar to my afternoons in Honduras). This year, my trip is more of learning and being present with others. It’s a full immersion trip and I don’t know exactly what that means yet. I know I will be meeting people, hearing stories, and visiting important sights. I will be going to mass in the church where Oscar Romero was killed. I will be visiting a school that members of my college fund each year. All in all I will be learning and experiencing something unlike anything else and I am ready with all of my heart and soul. (Really. It’s only my suitcase that is currently empty.)
I’ll be gone for two weeks- but With Luck Blog will be running strong in my absence! I have a handful of amazing blog friends who have already written guest posts for me. I also got a little ahead of myself and wrote up some posts with some fun little things and a few inspirational quotes. I am amazingly excited for my journey, but I aim to please so I hope you enjoy the scheduled posts in my absence.
In the meantime, feel free to send me lots of positive vibes and think of me while you use real restrooms and drink from a faucet. Have an awesome two weeks!
(All unmarked photos are from my Honduras trip last year)