This year, 14 participants - workers and volunteers of these departments- visited Guatemala and El Salvador on a 10 day trip to experience the end process of their work and take back these stories to their fellow workers and home communities.
The trip started in El Salvador visiting the different partner organizations that work along with MCC G&ES in responding to their community needs. Among them are ANADES, The Baptist Church ¨Disciples of Chirst¨ (IBDC) and Comunidades eclesiales de Base de El Salvador (CEBES).
|The MR visit to Guatemala and El Salvador. Photo taken by Stanley Toews.|
ANADES (Asociación Nuevo Amanecer de El Salvador) is a non profit organization formed by the basic ecclesial communities in El salvador that supports children and women´s rights and responds to those who are excluded and marginalized in the Salvadorian society. ANADES has many preschool/daycare programs throughout the country and the Material Resource group visited two of them located in the municipality of Perquin, Morazan and San Salvador. Linda Dickinson, the material resources coordinator in MCC Alberta, reflected on her experience: "We visited a daycare in Perquin - they've received canned meat and school kits over the years.¨
The MR group also visited IBDC, its farm and the communities where they work. Part of the trip was visiting specific families to listen to their stories. Many of them were affected by the hurricane Ida in 2009 and are now living in vulnerable shanties. Wendy Kropf-Cotter, the material resources coordinator in MCC Ontario, wrote about her experience there:
¨MCC has helped La Linea by providing school kits, hygiene kits and some relief kits. We also send canned meat to this partner. When the meat first arrived, the people tried eating it right out of the can, and were disappointed in the product. The church leadership realized that the ladies didn’t know what to make with this meat, and so they called the women together and asked them all to create recipes using it. They rallied and came up with many delicious recipes.
After our time at La Linea, we travelled to to Rancho Finca Canaan (The Promised Land) to spend an afternoon with many from the congregation and spend the night. Seven women were asked to cook their MCC meat recipes and provide us with a sampling. We were so blessed by the generosity of those who have so very little. The sharing of this food was a moving experience, as we watched each woman prepare her dish, and pass it around for our tasting and comments. Tacos, lasagna, empanadas, stuffed peppers and three versions of pupusas were received with great praise by the MCC staff. The women beamed with pleasure.¨
¨ We went to Perquin and met a group of women who work together to overcome trauma from the war and who encourage each other to make handicrafts that they can sell and supplement their incomes with.¨ shared Arthur Mann, the Material Aid Resource Centre Coordinator, referring to the time he spent with CEBES.
The MR group also participated in activities that engaged them with the historical background of Guatemala and El Salvador such as visiting the Monseñor Romero Center and Martyrs museum, El mozote, and the national cemetery of Guatemala City. ¨We learned a lot about the conflict that El Salvador has just come through. Benito (El mozote tour guide) took us to a memorial that commemorates the lives of over 1,000 people brutally killed by the military in 1981. People are making sure that we remember so that this will not happen again¨. Arthur added.
|Women from CEBES show their sewing work used as a trauma healing tool to represent their memories of the civil war. Photo taken by Stanley Toews.|
The second part of the trip was spent in Guatemala city and Santiago Atitlan with some of the MCC partner organizations in those areas: AMAR (Academia Menonita de Artes y Recreación, which stands for Mennonite Academy of Arts and Recreation) and ANADESA (Asociación Nuevo Amanecer de Santiago Atitlan).
ANADESA is currently working in many different projects, and providing workshops and classes for women in the communities of Panabaj, Tzanchaj, and Chukmuk is one of them. Andrew Keeler, one of members of the meat canning team, commented: “It was neat to see how the projects used the meat and other resources to enhance the community. It’s not just handed out and forgotten.”¨ We are all different, and yet we are all the same, and together we share what we have with each other. This might mean money or goods, or time or community or friendship.¨ Wendy reflected from the devotions held at IBDC.
|Photo taken by Stanley Toews.|
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Special thanks to James Wheeler for making this video!