Thursday, February 11, 2010

El Salvador Immersion Blog: Day 6

Saint Peter's Vice President for Advancement Michael Fazio is visiting El Salvador until February 12 as part of Ignatian Colleagues Program. Today's blog entry is part of a series of his reflections during his trip. To read the series from the beginning, start here

Today was a day about resiliency.

We traveled outside of San Salvador to a rural town called Suchitoto. From there, we boarded motor boats to travel to Copapayo Viejo, the site of a 1983 massacre. Determined to silence the residents who organized themselves to protest repeated injustice in the region, the Salvadoran government essentially wiped out the entire village community. Planes dropped bombs. Soldiers raped and pillaged. Hundreds died. Hearing the gruesome details of the events from a survivor of the massacre was, for me, mind-boggling. I could not believe that I was standing so close to someone that had witnessed so much terror. He was 10 years old at the time.

The survivors, and those who managed to flee, united and were resilient in their desire to form their own just society. They formed a community nearby named Sitio Cenicero, and with the help of the Sisters of Charity and the Red Cross, have built a new life for themselves. School now continues until the 9th grade (it had been 3rd grade). Education, health and other civic affairs groups have been created. A common theme seems to be emerging in El Salvador: Despite the scandalous brutality, Salvadorans are a strong people full of faith and joy. It's inspiring really.
We also met with a man who works for an organization committed to reducing gang violence. Though his mission is huge and the odds are stacked against him, and others who do the same, his sense of determination and hope was crystal clear. It's terrific to know that there are people out there willing to devote themselves to a cause that most others would deem futile.

Two more days await us. I look forward to learning even more (tomorrow we visit the U.S. Embassy). That said, I am beginning to really itch to return home and hug my family. I always knew that I was blessed, but I had to travel to Central America to realize just how much.

Photo: ICP participants listen to the testimony of a 1983 massacre survivor. 

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