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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Partner profile - Association of Communities for the Development of Chalatenango-CCR


Street mural in San Jose las Flores

A new feature of the program, this year Compadres will be working with the Association of Communities for the Development of Chalatenango-CCR. Our contact with the CCR is Nelson Orellana, the Popular Education Director for the organization. We met Nelson on our last trip to El Salvador. He is a principal in one of the schools in San Jose Las Flores and is involved in a variety of community initiatives in the Chalatenango region. Here is an excerpt from my journal entry written after our first visit to Nelson's community:

San Jose Las Flores has a thriving school community headed by Nelson, a true education innovator. Their first schools were built from the rubble of crumbling buildings. Nelson started teaching with a third grade education. His students used charcoal to write on rocks. By the end of the war, a group of teachers were able to upgrade their education and become certified. Now there is a branch of UCA, the Jesuit University in San Jose Las Flores. Over 300 students have signed up to take courses at this satellite school. Teachers now receive training in the community. This community has had a long-lasting connection with the Sisters of Ascension in Spain and from the city of Cambridge, Massachusetts through the Sister Cities Program. Linkages with groups outside the country work very well to assist the Salvadoran people to develop strong, vital communities. This is part of the social and economic rebuilding that needs to take place throughout the country. While communities like San Jose Las Flores receive a good deal of help from international donors, there is no question that the local people are the ones in control.

Nelson will be arranging part of our schedule for this year. This is very exciting - all this will be new and will finally allow us to work closely with educators in El Salvador. We will be hearing some of the specifics of what this part of the program will look like in January. I plan to blog this information as it comes out. The material that is being prepared will be uniquely fashioned to the work we want to do in the Compadres project.

Here is a little information on the CCR:

The Association of Communities for the Development of Chalatenango-CCR was founded in June of 1987 during the armed conflict in El Salvador, as an answer to the need to repopulate the communities of the North-eastern part of Chalatenango that had been destroyed by the armed conflict. Thanks to the work of the CCR the people who were exiled in the refugee camp in Mesa Grande Honduras, refugee camps inside the country and in other countries were able to repopulate the communities devastated by the war. With the signing of the Peace Accords in 1992, the CCR reoriented its work to organize and facilitate the reconstruction of the communities, and advocate that the Peace Accords be met and the process of democratization of the country move forward. Today the CCR works with 100 communities in 22 of the 33 municipalities of Chalatenango, promoting community organization and development through popularly elected community boards, legal representatives of their communities.

I believe that there is great potential here for collaboration. In my next entry, I will write about Teachers Without Borders - another new partner for Compadres.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Partner profile - CRIPDES





Greetings and Merry Christmas to everyone. We are just months away from the next trip to El Salvador. I think it is time to start blogging again in preparation for the next trip.

While I have been sending out Facebook messages on a regular basis, it is time to start writing something more specific to the trip.

Today, some information on CRIPDES, our hosts in El Salvador. This is an excerpt from my 2005 journal entry on our Development and Peace trip:


Our first full day was spent with two organizations, CRIPDES and CORDES. CRIPDES is our sponsoring organization. They had hired Roberto as our interpreter for the trip and we met him at the CRIPDES offices. Roberto and Miguel became our good friends and our best sources of information. Much of what we know about the lives of Salvadorans came from their stories.

We were introduced to Marta Lorena Araujo, President of CRIPDES, and Janet of CORDES.


Janet and Lorena at our first meeting at CRIPDES


CRIPDES started July 14, 1984 as an organization to support the people of El Salvador during the war. Originally, they worked with displaced people. CRIDPES works in 300 communities in El Salvador to support these communities in the establishment of basic services like health care, clean drinkable water, basic education and electricity. This reconstruction process began in earnest in 1986 when CRIPDES began to assist rural communities to relocate from refugee bases in Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama.

The repatriation process is one of the early achievements of CRIPDES. In this they worked without government assistance. Support did come from the international community for the building of homes, roads, water infrastructure, education and health care. This rebuilding process continues to this day.

While the Peace Accords were signed in 1992, the struggle continues. The people of El Salvador continue to struggle for basic human rights, access to clean drinking water and good quality education. In the rural communities the provision of good quality health care continues to be a very real concern. Families struggle to make ends meet. The minimum wage provides a worker a salary of $154.00 (US) per month. CRIPDES and other social organizations estimate that the cost of living is closer to $625.00 a month. Prices continue to rise for basic services like water and transportation; wages are not keeping up with these increases. It is becoming increasingly difficult for families to survive.



our first meeting with CRIPDES in 2005, the start of a great friendship.

Here is a description of CRIPDES from the US - El Salvador Sister Cities web site

CRIPDES, our Sister Organization in El Salvador
Sister Cities is proud to work directly with the Association for the Development of El Salvador (CRIPDES) the largest rural organization in the country and a leader in the Salvadoran social movement.
Formerly the Christian Committee of the Displaced, CRIPDES was founded in 1984 to support people displaced by the Salvadoran civil war as they returned to their homes. CRIPDES organized and accompanied re-populations, strengthened local organizations so that people could stay in their communities, and called for a negotiated solution to the war.

After the Peace Accords were signed in 1992, CRIPDES became the Association of Rural Communities for the Development of El Salvador. Its current mission is to strengthen and develop organizing in rural communities as they struggle for an economically, politically, and socially just society. Day-to-day, CRIPDES supports community organizing of the rural population, popular education and mobilization for political advocacy.

Today, CRIPDES is made up of 300 rural communities organized through seven regional organizations. National and regional leaders are elected democratically from among community members. All the sister communities of Sister Cites are organized through CRIPDES.

We are again working with CRIPDES to prepare for this year's trip. I have been in regular correspondence with Miguel



Miguel - our main contact in El Salvador - I work with Miguel to set the schedule for the trip.

Miguel has seen our project develop over the past three years, he is very well situated to respond to the developing nature of the Compadres program. He works closely with the communities we will be visiting.

Next entry - Nelson and San Jose Las Flores

Monday, December 20, 2010

Compadres 2011 - Join Us!



The next trip to El Salvador is being planned. We have a group committed to taking part in this year's experience, but we would like to include more people.

Do you need to be a teacher to go on this trip? No, we are all about developing community, so we will not exclude anyone who wants to be part of this experience.

Who will we be working with in El Salvador? We have several great partners - starting with CRIPDES,the largest rural organization in the country and a leader in the Salvadoran social movement. Its current mission is to strengthen and develop organizing in rural communities as they struggle for an economically, politically, and socially just society.

We will also be working with Teachers Without Borders on a specially designed program that incorporates elements of their Certificate of Teaching Mastery program with the Millennium Development Ambassador program. A draft of this new program will be available this January.

Who else will you be working with?

Will we be working with any local organizations? Yes, we will be working with Nelson Orellana, the Secretary of Popular Education, for The Association of Communities for the Development of Chalatenango-CCR. Nelson is also principal of one of the schools in San Jose Las Flores and will be designing much of our program for this year. The CCR was founded in June of 1987 during the armed conflict in El Salvador, as an answer to the need to repopulate the communities of the North-eastern part of Chalatenango that had been destroyed by the armed conflict. Thanks to the work of the CCR the people who were exiled in the refugee camp in Mesa Grande Honduras, refugee camps inside the country and in other countries were able to repopulate the communities devastated by the war. With the signing of the Peace Accords in 1992, the CCR reoriented its work to organize and facilitate the reconstruction of the communities, and advocate that the Peace Accords be met and the process of democratization of the country move forward.

What are some of the elements of the program?

Apart from the work we will be doing in Chalatenango, we will be doing the following:

Visits to historic sites in Sal Salvador - Visit to Divine Providence church were Monseñor Romero was killed; Monseñor Romero's House; the memorial to civilian victims of the military repression and the war at Parque Cuscatlan; UCA (Jesuit University). museun.

Visit to the beach - El Salvador is quickly becoming a great tourist destination. We will spend one day at the beach on the Costa del Sol area.

We will also visit the offices of CRIPDES Equipo Maiz and other organizations involved in social justice and popular education work.

How much will the trip cost? Costs are approximately $2100.00 including transportation, accommodation, translation and group facilitation. Participants are responsible for their own lunch and dinner.

If I am interested, what do I do? Please send an e-mail to Paul McGuire at mcswa1@gmail.com
The first deposit of $500.00 is due at the end of January. We will hold one final information meeting in mid-January for those who are interested in the program.

When are we going? We are planning on a 14-day trip starting on July 3rd.

If you would like more information before we meet please e-mail me or call at 613-218-9615.