WHAT IS IT

ACCOMPANIMENT is about more than material aid, it leads us to join the struggles of our companions in Central America: see Country Updates in the Analysis section.  It is a work of transformation in which:

  1. We look honestly at our planet, our political structures, and our lives.
  2. We recognize how unjust systems oppress our world.
  3. We realize that we need to share resources more equitably.
  4. We reverence all creation and seek creative ways to protect it.
  5. We risk letting what we have learned change our lives.

Even though time has passed and situations have changed, some things do not change and this mission of ACCOMPANIMENT is still fundamental to the work of IFCLA.  Whether it be with the specific Accompaniment Projects and Programs listed below, or with Fair Food and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, or with recognizing the militarization of police in the U.S. as well as Central and Latin America, or with protesting the School of the Americas, or with standing with our sisters and brothers in Ferguson and the Shaw neighborhood in these trying times in St. Louis, we are all part of creation and our world.

The current ACCOMPANIMENT projects and programs of IFCLA include (click on either the high-lighted link in the box to the left or the one below for information on each one):

GUARJILA

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 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 90s.

In 1998, students from Ann’s high school began to visit Guarjila. This annual visit has deepened the bonds of friendship and expanded horizons for many young women. Each year we learn first hand the challenges which the community faces. It helps inform our work for justice in El Salvador. 

In addition to visits, the CCP sells embroidery and hand work from the women’s collective and raises funds to supplement the stipends of the health workers at the clinic.

The Nerinx students hold an annual volleyball tournament to raise funds for high school scholarships for young women.

RIO ABAJO/LIMAY HERMANAMIENTO PROJECT

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 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 90s.

In 1998, students from Ann’s high school began to visit Guarjila. This annual visit has deepened the bonds of friendship and expanded horizons for many young women. Each year we learn first hand the challenges which the community faces. It helps inform our work for justice in El Salvador. 

In addition to visits, the CCP sells embroidery and hand work from the women’s collective and raises funds to supplement the stipends of the health workers at the clinic.

The Nerinx students hold an annual volleyball tournament to raise funds for high school scholarships for young women.

After Hurricane Mitch in October, 1998, IFCLA responded to the need of a community which was washed away by the hurricane. A delegation visited the people of Rio Abajo and agreed to help them rebuild their community. Delegations followed and today the community of Rio Abajo has housing, water, electricity, a corn mill, buildings for sewing and for pottery, and a community center.

In order for the project to proceed, Reyna Moreno was hired to be the project coordinator. She received training for community organizing and has led a campaign to get the road from Esteli to Limay paved. She has expanded her work from Rio Abajo to neighboring communities. After eight years, the IFCLA project decided to end the funding of her position. IFCLA continues a connection with the communities in the Limay Valley through scholarships and relationships.

GUATEMALA

IFCLA is the fiscal sponsor for the New Mayas Society which supports the Centro de Formacion Nuevos Mayas (The School for New Mayas), established in Xix, a small town in the state of Quiche, in northern Guatemala. IFCLA supports the efforts of local parishes with sister relationships: St. Joan of Arc Catholic parish has a long-standing relationship with the diocese of Coban; St Francis Xavier (College Church) has a relationship with La Natividad parish. The Arco Iris Sanctuary welcomed several families and individuals from Guatemala as did the sanctuary at the ASC community in Ruma, IL. 

The Association for Justice and Reconciliation, an organization of 22 communities of survivors of the massacres of the 1980s, has launched legal cases against former dictators and military officers who were involved in the campaigns against the indigenous peoples . Amnesty International is actively supporting these efforts. AI has documented the recent murders of women in Guatemala. 

IFCLA participates in the speaking tours sponsored by Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala.

VENEZUELA

Sources for information on current issues: 

Venezuela Solidarity 
The basic purpose of the Venezuela Solidarity Network is to increase communication among groups that oppose US intervention in Venezuela, support the right of the Venezuela people to self-determination, and support the Bolivarian revoluntion. The Venezuela Solidarity Network also seeks to enlist additional progressive groups into Venezuela solidarity work, and to facilitate our ability to unite in joint actions. 

Hands Off Venezuela 
We have tirelessly organised solidarity activities with Venezuela's Bolivarian revolution through public meetings, video screenings, raising the issue within the trade union movement in different countries, organising speaking tours, moving motions in Parliaments, and sending solidarity delegations to Venezuela.
The basic principles of the Campaign are:

      • solidarity with the Bolivarian Revolution
      • opposition to imperialist intervention in Venezuela
      • building direct links with the revolutionary and trade union movement in Venezuela

COLOMBIA

IFCLA has collaborated with the Colombia Support Network. Local members have gone to Colombia with Christian Peacemaker Teams and Witness for Peace. There is special concern for indigenous communities and the Inter-Ecclesial Justice and Peace Commission.