PAB folks: This is an e-mail from Leslie of SHARE. Please review it and respond to me by email <mailto:dbeach@csbsju.edu> with ideas of what you think we should contribute. Note that one of the items of possible use of funds has to do with providing funds for food to emergency shelters in Cuscatlán, which is where Tenancingo is located. I will call Amalia Flores to ascertain whether they are sheltering people in the school in Tenancingo or any of the communities.  You can check the SHARE web site for more information and pictures.  Dennis


From: Leslie Bilchick [leslie@share-elsalvador.org]
Sent: Friday, October 07, 2005 5:27 PM
To: Beach, Dennis
Subject: SHARE Emergency Fund

Friday, October 7, 2005

Dear Dennis and Partners Across Borders,

The SHARE Foundation extends a greeting to your community, this time in the shadow of calamity for our local partners in El Salvador.  As always, we deeply appreciate your continued solidarity and support for Tenancingo.  Your devotion to the Salvadoran people is a source of strength in this trying time. SHARE invites you and your committee to help in defraying the high cost of sheltering those who have been displaced in recent days, as well as subsequent efforts to rebuild. We are mounting a fundraising campaign to raise $40,000 to support our local partners in their relief and reconstruction efforts.

For those of us who are still haunted by images of destruction in the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the images here in El Salvador are frighteningly familiar. The entire country, and especially the southern and western regions, have been hit by a dual disaster in this first week of October. On Sunday, October 1, the government issued a red emergency alert when the Llamatepec Volcano erupted, causing a shower of ash, sulfur, and volcanic igneous rock along with mudslides. Many coffee crops have been destroyed in the Ahuachapán region as a result, and 7,000 people were evacuated from their homes.

This eruption came in the midst of two weeks of heavy rains, culminating in Hurricane Stan, which has brought more downpours over the past few days.  This precipitation, when paired with already saturated land and erosion caused by deforestation, has caused countless mudslides, especially in marginalized communities where over 40,000 people have been evacuated. These mudslides have resulted in at least 65 deaths – 6 of them alone in our San Salvador sister parish María Madre de los Pobres.  According to the UNDP, El Salvador is now the most deforested nation in the world, making the poor and marginalized extremely vulnerable to these tragedies.

In the face of these disasters, SHARE is encouraged by the power of community organization.  Although the national and local governments have come up short on funding to evacuate and shelter all of those affected by these disasters, our local partners and communities have banded together to form emergency response commissions, monitoring high risk areas and evacuating when necessary, as well as providing shelter, food, and basic items.  In the days and weeks to come, a secondary reconstruction phase will need to follow these first emergency responses, including the rebuilding of sanitation systems, latrines, homes, and schools, as well as the provision of mental health services. In addition, a third phase of strengthening disaster response and prevention should follow. 

After the 2001 earthquakes, the Tecoluca Municipal Development Committee brought international recognition to its devastated municipality.  It not only accepted the challenge of reconstruction,  but also decided to use the opportunity to implement a 25-year plan to build a new and stronger Tecoluca, with more employment and income opportunities, more stable homes and better services for its inhabitants, and heightened citizen participation and municipal democracy.  SHARE believes in the communities and partners that it works with; we are committed to building an emergency fund to support their efforts -- both for meals in the evacuation shelters today, as well as for dreams of reconstruction and development for the future.  

shelter Here are some examples of counterparts who could benefit from emergency funds raised:
  • Maria Madre de los Pobres Parish. Coordinating with the mayor of San Salvador to provide shelter to 250 families in 7 shelters, helping communities to respond with advocacy, and beginning to rebuild damaged homes.
  • CRIPDES Southern La Libertad (CODESMA). Providing shelter and emergency provisions as well as relief packets for 300 families in southern La Libertad.
  • Institute for Women (IMU).  Providing food to families in shelters, including Chalchuapa.
  • The Municipal Development Committee of Tecoluca (CDM). Currently providing shelter to 320 families in various churches, markets, and schools in the Tecoluca municipality
  • Social Initiative for Democracy (ISD).  Working with municipal councils, mayors, and non-profits to shelter families from La Paz and Cuscatlan in local schools.  Providing over 800 people with food, mattresses, clothing and hygiene items.

 

Time is of the essence in raising this emergency fund. Oxfam America has estimated that there is at least $43.6 million in damage throughout the 70% of the country that has been affected.  This situation has been the most dangerous for the poor, whose vulnerability to these disasters is a tragedy in and of itself. We ask that you act quickly in the spirit of solidarity and consider how your committee can help to build this fund for SHARE’s local partners.  Last night, one Milwaukee parish responded immediately to SHARE’s appeal by committing to raise $2,000.  This morning, a Michigan sister parish pledged $500.  Please discern what contribution your committee can make and reply as soon as possible to this email. When we receive your commitment, SHARE will provide funds immediately to groups that are taking emergency response measures. This is the best and fastest way for your committee to provide relief to our brothers and sisters in El Salvador. 

We sincerely appreciate your support in this campaign and all of your work for social and economic justice in El Salvador’s most marginalized communities.  To be a part of SHARE’s emergency response effort, or for any additional information, please contact me at: leslie@share-elsalvador.org.

In Solidarity,
Leslie Bilchick,
on behalf of the entire SHARE Foundation