Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘El Salvador’

The World Turns South

As the world prepares for the Brazilian World Cup, attention is turning to South America. However, we hope you’ll see more than soccer – we hope you’ll see the individuals who live there.

Think about the people of Central and South America – individuals in countries like Ecuador, El Salvador and Guatemala. Despite the fact that you are a continent away, you can be the one who changes a person’s life forever.

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The region is made up of people just like you – people with dreams of growing a business, of creating something of their own. They dream of sending their children to school, and of giving them a brighter future. And yet, for too many, poverty is holding them back – and sometimes these dreams seem impossible.

When you give a FINCA client a microloan, you can help make her dreams come true. You give her the tools to succeed, to feed her family, and to achieve her independence. Maria Lucia Potosi Ramirez, just one of our many clients from Ecuador, had this to say about her FINCA experience: “I’m so grateful because FINCA trusted me. Now I can improve my life and the life of my family.”

Today, turn your eyes South – and see more than soccer. Support a microentrepreneur today.

Thank you for your generosity.

Sincerely,

Soledad Gompf
Vice President
FINCA

Returned to Rapists?

Gabriel –

An unthinkable ordeal: Blanca Medina was raped by five different men in El Salvador before she fled to the United States. Terrified and traumatized, she thought she’d at last found a safe haven to raise her 4-year-old daughter Alejandra (below). But now, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) wants to deport her — potentially back into the hands of her rapists, who were never arrested.

Forced back to certain danger? Blanca fears for her life — and Alejandra’s — if they have to go to El Salvador. None of the men who raped her have been arrested, including her stalker, and she’s terrified of what they’ll do if she’s sent back to El Salvador. But ICE is choosing to ignore this and other evidence.

You can help: Blanca’s lawyer Matthew Muller is appalled at how ICE has treated someone so vulnerable — she’s been refused a female case officer, and intimidated by male agents. But Matthew knows that public support has saved countless people in the past — and he’s sure that if enough people join him, ICE will be forced to reverse its decision and allow Blanca to stay in the U.S.

Click here to sign Matthew’s petition to make sure Blanca and Alejandra are allowed to stay safe in the U.S.

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More information about Matthew’s petition, in his own words:

Could you imagine suffering torture five different times, only to be told that no protection from your torturers was allowed because you missed a deadline to apply? And what if you missed the deadline because you were still recovering from the last attack?

Blanca Medina doesn’t have to imagine what that would be like. She sought safety in the United States after suffering five rapes. Because of medical complications relating to those rapes, Blanca missed a hearing to apply for protection and was ordered deported. An Immigration and Customs Enforcement team tracked Blanca down and detained her, separating her from her four-year-old daughter Alejandra.

Blanca told ICE that she and Alejandra faced severe harm if deported. She asked for permission to at least explain how she and her daughter could be persecuted. ICE used a strange procedural rule to assert that it simply did not have to listen. Under ICE rules, it is free to ignore even conclusive proof that a person would suffer slow death by torture if deported. This “willful blindness” policy could be ended through simple procedural changes by the Department of Homeland Security.

Until the procedure is fixed, Blanca (and thousands of moms like her) face deportation with no hope of finding protection from persecution or torture. Join us in asking the U.S. government to end this policy of willful blindness to torture and persecution, and allow reasonable fear interviews for all who face deportation.

Click here to sign Matthew’s petition to make sure Blanca and Alejandra are allowed to stay safe in the U.S.

From Change.org.

A Different Kind of Bread

Dear Gabriel,

I have a dear friend, named Cass, who is going on a three-week program in Aix- en- Provence, France this year to “become a pastry chef.” She is excitedly making all her final preparations. She can envision herself speaking rudimentary French, whipping up tasty croissants and learning from real experts. She sees a renewed Cass, one she’s dreamed of becoming for a long time, and I’m excited for her too.

On the other side of the world, Alma Lizeth Zarceño will be baking up a different kind of bread in El Salvador.

She too is a baker, but the self she envisions is a little different. Alma sees herself as a mother who can send her two children to school. Each batch of bread she bakes to sell in the community means another day of school fees she can pay; sending her two young ones off to school, dressed in their uniforms, learning, reading, and hoping for a better life.

Alma joined FINCA’s Grupo Comunal San Lorenzo Village Bank recently, though she had never dared borrow money before. Ever since, Alma has been using her FINCA loans to buy new molds and other equipment and ingredients. Her bakery has begun to attract more and more customers and she hopes to continue improving her business so she can steadily boost her earnings. Every day, as her children grow, they need more and more and the cost of managing the family’s needs keeps increasing, but Alma is confident that she can set them on their way to a brighter future.

Alma is very grateful that you had confidence in her abilities and that her companions in Grupo Comunal San Lorenzo have shown her so much trust and encouragement.

Whatever your own personal pursuit, your own vision of a future self, you can take inspiration from the courage, success and tenacity of Alma.

Please give $100 or more to the hopeful visions of a better life for women and families in the developing world. We’ll bet you a fresh, warm croissant that you will feel great about your decision.

Thank you for your support,

Soledad Gompf, FINCA
Vice President
New Business Development

Healing Loan For Three-Year-Old

From FINCA Newsletter.

When Her Daughter Became Ill, FINCA Made a Difference.

Wendy Yesenia Molina de Recinos and her husband thought life couldn’t be going any better. They had a beautiful, three-year-old little girl. Wendy was in her third year at university in Santa Ana, El Salvador, and her husband’s income was enough to keep the family in good stead.

But then their beautiful daughter fell terribly ill with a kidney disorder. Even as the doctors treated her, her condition worsened, and it was soon discovered that she had an intestinal tumor. Wendy knew she had to withdraw from university and give all of her attention to caring for her little girl.

It wasn’t long before the expenses for medicine were overwhelming, and Wendy knew she needed to help with the family income. A neighbor told her about Grupo Comunal Argentina and the loans that she could receive from FINCA. Her neighbors rallied around her, and she was quickly accepted as a new member of the group and received her first loan. Wendy invested the money she received in shoes to sell in the market, and it didn’t take long before she was able to add to her husband’s income, and help pay for the food, medicines and transportation that their daughter needed.

Wendy says she is grateful to FINCA and to the women of Grupo Comunal Argentina who have accepted her so easily into their group. She continues to work hard every day to do everything she can to help her daughter’s recovery.

Wendy’s most recent loan was funded through FINCA Lend A Hand. To learn more about how you can give a little and change a lot, go to www.LendAHand.FINCA.org

Voices of Hope

From FINCA Voices of Hope

Maria Trinidad Rodriguez

Maria lives with her husband and six children in a leaky shack made of corrugated tin in a village in El Salvador. Maria rises early each day to grind corn and make tortillas, which she sells in the market.

After Maria joined FINCA’S Buen Pastor (“Good Shepherd”) Village Banking group, she used her first loans of $175 to buy corn in bulk, enabling her to increase her profits on the sale of her tortillas. As a result, Maria has been able to provide her children with better, more nutritious food and keep them in school.

Maria’s note (dictated to one of her daughters) reads: “I thank God and FINCA for the loans I have been granted. I am improving my businesses and ensuring that my children can get ahead by going to school. I can neither read nor write, so I want them to learn.”

In honor of this campaign, any gift you make today of $100 or more will be DOUBLED! This is an extraordinary offer from FINCA’s Board of Directors. Maria’s first FINCA loan of just $175, which she used to buy corn in bulk to make her tortillas, literally changed her life. She is determined to inspire others along the same path from poverty to prosperity.

Sincerely,

Soledad Gompf
Vice President, FINCA

Do I Have The Guts?

I know it works. Millions of people around the world have risked life and limb to make it happen. But I don’t know, when it comes down to it, if I have the courage or moral strength to do it myself. In country after country, against the world’s worst governments, tyrants, military invaders and dictators, people have put their lives on the line by confronting the violent use of repression, intimidation, torture and imprisonment with nonviolent weapons of non-cooperation, civil-disobedience, strikes, sit-ins, rallies, vigils, politics and boycotts.

The question is not whether nonviolence works, but why it hasn’t been acknowledged, advocated, taught and put into practice more often? No other form of conflict has created such long-lasting and peaceful results as that of nonviolence.

Nonviolence is far from a passive activity. It requires deep introspection, continual self-awareness, strategizing, commitment, patience and direct and in-direct action. People actually have less chance of getting killed by using nonviolent tactics than they do by using violence.

As seen throughout history, it is imperative that the means match the ends. If you want a peaceful society you can’t use violence to create it. If you desire less hatred, bigotry and vengeance in the world, you have to see it in yourself and practice removing it from your own life.

A Jewish man, known as Jesus of Nazareth, repeatedly and adamantly advocated love and nonviolence and was willing to suffer torture and death by the Romans for his beliefs. His actions and words have since influenced the lives of millions.

About five hundred years before Jesus, the Buddha of Gotama preached an end to the caste system in India and contrary to all rules, laws and expectations of his time, accepted students from all castes.

In 1905, an Eastern Orthodox priest led over 150,000 Russians to the capital to protest the government. That march led to the first popularly elected parliament in that nation’s history.

In the early 1930’s, Mahatmas Gandhi first called for mass civil disobedience against the British. His call for active Satyagraha (truth force) resulted in India’s democratic independence in 1947.

Danish citizens refused to aid the Nazi war effort and forced the Germans to end blockades and curfews during their occupation of Denmark.

Without picking up a single gun Salvadoran’s forced their longtime military dictator into exile in 1944.

Martin Luther King, Jr., using many of the non-violent tactics of Gandhi, helped mobilize Americans to end racial segregation in the South and fight for civil rights nation wide.

Cesar Chavez peacefully rallied farm-workers to demand better working conditions for the men and women that harvest our countries food.

Laborers went on strike, won the right to organize and with the help of the Catholic Church and Solidarity, nonviolently brought down a totalitarian form of communism in Poland.

A group of mothers marched in the capitol of Argentina demanding to know the whereabouts of their abducted sons and grandsons. After years of being intimidated, tortured and imprisoned themselves, their persistence helped oust the countries military junta.

In the Philippines, in 1986, a coalition of citizens outraged with the government supported assassination of a returning exiled politician, massed to support his widow Corazin Aquino. After defying continued brutality, censorship and threats by the Armed Forces under Ferdinand Marcos, the people, with the help of The Church, struck at the conscience of military officers who eventually refused to follow Marcos’s orders.

South Africans waged a decades long nonviolent campaign to end Apartheid. Their actions eventually led to the freeing of Nelson Mandela and a democratically elected government in which every person’s vote had equal value.

Over 100,000 students in the Czech republic sat down in the streets demanding freedom. Their example set off a wave of protest that washed away totalitarian regimes in Hungary, Bulgaria, Mongolia and East Germany.

At the turn of the century the Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic was defeated and his security forces neutralized by a general strike and nonviolent uprising.

These examples are but a few of the many inspiring practical applications of nonviolence, but how does somebody become brave enough to do it? How does one get to the point where they are willing to risk losing their job, go to prison, be assaulted or killed? How do we stand up to evil without becoming like those we confront? How do we separate evil acts from the people perpetrating them and still stop their actions without demonizing them in the process?

I like to think that my life and what I am doing with it make a difference. I tell myself that working as a counselor, a writer and volunteering in prisons and overseas helps others. I believe raising healthy children, working with human rights organizations and using non-polluting energy for my car and home, all have an impact. Then again, they are all safe and convenient.

Sure, I’ve marched in protest rallies against different wars and been arrested for blocking nuclear weapons facilities, but I knew the worst thing that would happen would be a couple of hours in detention or an overnight stay in the slammer. If I faced the prospect of years in prison, large fines, torture, a criminal record or being exiled from my country and family would I have done the same thing? I doubt it. Am I willing to stop paying taxes, get fined and go to jail? No. Am I spending time organizing other citizens to insist on less military spending and greater humanitarian interventions around the world? Perhaps, a little. Am I fully putting my body and deeds where my heart and beliefs lead me? No.

The reality is that I pay others to protect me with violent means. By paying my taxes I pay for law enforcement and military personal to carry and use weapons to theoretically keep my family, community and nation out of harms way. The money I pay to our government helps research, design, produce and use weapons of mass destruction and military intimidation and violence.

If someone threatened my son, daughter or mate, I believe I have the guts to stand my ground and resolve the conflict nonviolently without striking back, but I’m not sure. And if someone threatened my neighbor or community, I doubt I would have the same brave resolve to “fight back”, as I would with my immediate family.

I like to see myself as an advocate for justice, peace and freedom, now I’m not so sure. The justice, peace and freedom I seek are made in the context of a comfortable way of life and don’t require me to go out of my way to achieve them or make any great sacrifices; yet, all of those who have preceded me have been willing to do just that. They all took a leap of faith. They saw that they were not separate from anyone else on this planet and what they and others do or don’t do, affects us all.

When it comes down to the nitty gritty and I have to practice what I preach, I hope I can make that leap. I hope my faith in non-violence and love carries me through any and all circumstances and situations. In reality, I won’t know until or if, it happens. It could be that everyone is scared, even petrified, when faced with harm, but they act anyway. Perhaps that is what courage is all
about.

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