(para leer en español, dele clíc aquí)
Today marks José and Laurel’s second full week on tour in the U.S., a second week full of profound opportunties to share about the work of FUNDAHMER and to be humbled and encouraged by the positive responses and solidarity we have seen from our friends in San Jose, CA and Portland, OR!
Upon arriving in San Francisco, we were greeted by FUNDAHMER volunteer Stephanie Neustadter and her son, Kellan, who accompanied us to see the Golden Gate Bridge before heading home to San Jose, where we stayed with her family. In San Jose, we had the chance to visit Santa Clara University, which has many strong ties with El Salvador, represented visually by crosses in front of the Mission church on campus with the names of the martyrs of the UCA. We met with some administrators and professors at Santa Clara who are involved with their wonderful study abroad program in El Salvador, the Casa de la Solidaridad, as well as folks from their immerison trip through CRISPAZ and professors at the law school who volunteer their time representing undocumented minors in court at Santa Clara’s legal clinic for human rights cases. The conversations with these lawyers were eye-opening, as we learned about the struggles many Central American young people face on this side of the border when they come to the U.S. fleeing social or economic crises.
The next day, we visited Bellarmine College Prep, our oldest high school sister community, who has been visiting El Salvador since 1994! We reconnected with students and the many teachers who have visited El Salvador over the years, and had the chance to speak with quite a few sections of Spanish and Theology classes in Bellarmine’s chapel throughout the day.
It was a special gift to reconnect with Larry Lauro, who brought groups to El Salvador through Bellarmine for many years and was a key figure in establishing a sister relationship with the community of Agua Escondida, where Bellarmine has supported a kindergarten for the last eleven or twelve years.
At Notre Dame High School, also in San Jose, there was some gracious opening in the sapce-time continuum that allowed us to visit on the same day as their school assembly about El Salvador! We met with a couple classes in the morning and then got to witness a GREAT presentation that this summer’s delegation participants prepared for the school! They assigned a student from their sister community of Yancolo to a team of homerooms to raise money for next year’s scholarships, and shared about the reality of education in El Salvador. They spoke of the hospitality they received as Notre Dame students during their immerison experience and encouraged their classmates to pay it forward by pitching into the scholarship campaign. We really saw that the whole school feels part of the sister relationship and excited about their continued solidarity with the people of Yancolo.
We headed to Oregon on Saturday, where we have been visitng with Amanda Aguilar Shank, the president of the board of the new U.S.-based nonprofit FACES (Faith in ACtion with El Salvador), together with her husband, Jeremy, and their daughter, Esperanza. Both Amanda and Jeremy have been volunteers with FUNDAHMER in El Salvador, and we hope to have Esperanza working with us in 20 years or so! On Sunday, we met with the group SALUDO (Salvadoreños Unidos de Oregon) at a local Salvadoran’s house and shared about the work of FUNDAHMER with a group of about 20 people!
Yesterday we spoke on Radio Moviemiento, a Spanish- and indigenous-language radio station managed by a PCUN, United Pine-tree-planters and Campesinos of the Northwest, in Woodburn, Oregon.
We also headed to downtown Portland to find a copy of Street Roots, a local grassroots newspaper that published an interview with José in its most current issue, which you can read here.
Every day, we find ourselves sharing about the work of FUNDAHMER in different spaces and with different people who all share a common commitment to relationships of solidarity and care with the people of El Salvador. We are greatful for and humbled by all of the hospitality we have received from the FUNDAHMER family here in the U.S.; the fact that this tour is happening at all really speaks to the quality of the relationships that all you communities on both sides of the North-South divide have worked to build over the decades.
On a final note, we invite you all to continue following our trip here on FUNDAHMER’s website and to consider supporting FUNDAHMER’s work financially as part of the fundraising campaign that we are promoting on the tour. Check out this article on the FACES blog for more information about what initiatives the funds will be used to support, and please consider donating online HERE or by sharing the link with your community. Every little bit helps towards our goal of raising $10,000 by the end of November, and the funds will go directly to support community initiatives in El Salvador.
Thanks, everyone, once again for your good energies, and particular greetings and abrazos to all of our friends and family in El Salvador, from Porland, Oregon!!