Guarjila Community
The majority of the work that IFCLA does in El Salvador is involved with the town of Guarjila in the department of Chalatenango.  We have a long history with the community.
In January of 1988, IFCLA made a covenant with the people of Guarjila,  Chalatenango, El Salvador who had just returned from the Mesa Grande refugee camp in Honduras and who were courageously rebuilding their lives in the midst of war.  We began by raising awareness about their precarious situation with our members of Congress and the people of the St. Louis region.  We sent people to visit and to challenge the army's disregard of their status as a civilian community.  We raised funds for land titles, for cows, for a roof for the school, for a water project, and for teacher salaries.  Dr. Ann Manganaro, Sister of Loretto, went to live in Guarjila and opened a clinic which served the entire area.  She trained health promoters, many of whom are health professionals today.  Sadly, Ann died of cancer in June, 1993.
After the Peace Accords were signed in 1992 and the combatants returned to live with their families, more people from St. Louis were able to visit Guarjila.  Two health promoters and a German doctor who worked with Ann came to visit St. Louis in the 90's.
In 1998, students from Ann's high school (Nerinx Hall High School, Webster Groves, MO) began to visit Guarjila.  This annual visit has deepened the bonds of friendship and has expanded horizons for many young women.  Each year we learn first hand the ever-changing challenges which the community faces.  It helps to inform our on-going work for justice in El Salvador.
In addition to visits, IFCLA has sold embroidery and hand work from the women's' collective and continues to raise funds to ourchase medicines, to supplement the stipends of the health workers at the clinic and to provide for future retirement funds.
The Nerinx students hold an annual volleyball tournament to raise funds for university scholarships for young women of Guarjila.
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Ann Manganaro Clinic
Clinica Anna Manganaro
Ann Manganaro grew up in Webster Groves, MO, eldest in a large family. She graduated from Nerinx Hall and joined the Sisters of Loretto in 1964. After starting the Neighborhood School in the Skinker-DeBalividere neighborhood, she helped found Karen Catholic Worker House and went to Med School at St Louis University. Ann worked as a pediatrician in the emergency room at Cardinal Glennon Hospital in St. Louis. In late 1987 she went to El Salvador as a volunteer with Jesuit Refugee Services. She was sent to Guarjila, Chalatenango to provide healthcare for civilians in the midst of the civil war.

                                                Annís Legacy

Healthcare skills learned by refugees returning from the UN sponsored Mesa Grande camp were enhanced by Annís skilled leadership. Ann trained 200 health promoters to meet the needs of the people, in Guarjila and throughout Chalatenago.
She and Jon Cortina SJ, a Jesuit priest who served in the community, and was an engineer and taught at the University of Central America (UCA)designed and built the initial clinic in Guarjila. 
Further studies have prepared a staff of local health professionals: Doctors, Nurses, Med Techs, and Health Educators. The Clinic remained an independent health care facility until after the health care reforms of President Carlos Mauricio Funes.

In 2010, Guarjila was chosen as a Communal Family Health Unit by the Ministry of Health under the government of Mauricio Dunes, and was used as part of the model for the national communal medicine system. With professionals from the community and specialists, the clinic now serves 50,00 people in the eastern zone of Chalatenango and is open 7 days a week.

All services and medicines are free. Young people now are entering health professions with the hope in sharing in this bright future for El Salvador.
For the latest report from the Clinic, click here.
Sign on Clinic
Mural on front of Clinic
Ann and Jon Cortina, SJ
"Set My Hands to Heal" Documentary
"Dar Mis Manos Para Sanar"
Photo by Mev Puleo
Inspired by stories about Ann at Karen Catholic Worker House, Dr. Rodney Yarnal and his spouse Christen Parker went to El Salvador in 2007 to interview Annís friends and colleagues, and her family. Each one shared stories of her remarkable mission of accompaniment.

They recorded over twenty-four hours of video. IFCLA joined Parker and Yarnal in the mission of transcription, translation and film production. Carson Minnow and colleagues from First Punch Productions edited the footage into the documentary, which premiered in June, 2013, the twentieth anniversary of Annís untimely death from cancer.

Copies of the dvd are available through IFCLA. The minimum donation is $20. All donations are sent to Guarjila to build a retirement fund for Annís health promoters who worked outside the national social security system for twenty years.

For more information, please contact the office.
Portrait by Patricia Atwood
Immigration - Intervention - Investment - Immersion
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Our mission: To accompany the people of Latin America in their struggles for human rights and
social justice, and to educate and advocate in the US