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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