Office Volunteer Molly Bishop wrote this great blog post for us last month, but sadly technical gremlins have prevented us from posting it till now.
Last week we welcomed Erasmo and Sandra from Puentecitos, El Salvador. Since the late 1970s CAFOD has been working to help El Salvadorians build a better future. Today the focus is on agriculture, reducing the risk of disasters, HIV and AIDS and creating peace. The community of Puentecitos are linked with parishes in England and Wales through Connect2 to represent this work and to create solidarity across borders. Erasmo works for the Jesuit Development Service (JDS), a CAFOD partner since 1992, that teaches organic farming methods and trains people in farming techniques. The women’s cooperative that Sandra belongs to is helped by the JDS. Before the visit Sandra expressed her hopes for having a chance to see how people work in England and Wales, especially in the countryside, and being able to share these with her family back home.
They were met off the plane by Sarah Smith-Pearse, of CAFOD’s Latin America team.
Welcomed by David Brinn and Catherine Garsed in Bristol, Erasmo and Sandra were taken on a two day tour of the Clifton diocese which included visits to organisations combating poverty and to a parish with whom they have had long term contact. First stop was The Matthew Tree project was the next stop, a food collection charity that provides free food aid to those in emergency need and continued ongoing care and support. This included a stop at the supermarket, where Erasmo was keen to inspect the range of coffee on offer.
Next, St. James’ Priory in Bristol city centre, where residential support services are offered to vulnerable people struggling with drugs and alcohol. Lunch was enjoyed in the cafe at St. James where they were joined by Jenny Foster and Lydia Nash, Fair Trade coordinators for the South West and Gloustershire respectively.
Later that day the pair were received at St. George’s parish, Taunton, for an evening of presentations, thanks and culture sharing. Connect2 has provided the link between the Taunton parishes St George’s and St Theresa’s and the community of Puentecitos for a long time. The joy in making face-to-face contact after years of overseas support and correspondence was wonderful. Erasmo and Sandra had felt the benefits of these parishes’ donations first hand.
Full of thanks, Erasmo offered a prayer for those still struggling and yet to benefit as they have.
Show me the pain of those who are most troubled
So that I can learn about the suffering of my people
Grant me the courage to serve others
Because in surrender there is eternal life
Illuminate us with song and celebration
And raise the Spirit amongst us
May the Spirit flower and grow
And give us strength to continue our struggle
May we remember those who have died from injustice
Because for us they have given their lives
(A prayer written by Salvadoran farmers
working with the Jesuit Development Service)
Keep up with what’s happening in Puentecitos by following the Connect2 El Salvador blog: http://connect2elsalvador.wordpress.com/
Connect2 is a way to build worldwide solidarity and deepen our links in the UK with a community overseas. You can choose not only to connect to El Salvador, but also to Brazil, Rwanda, Ethiopia, and Cambodia. More information on Connect2 is available on the CAFOD Connect2 Webpage. If you’d like to sign up for Connect2, contact CAFOD Clifton: 0117 942 8328 or firstname.lastname@example.org