SalvAide is continuing to build its partnership with Ottawa Catholic School Board schools to facilitate exposure trips to El Salvador. Currently, students from Holy Trinity, St. Francis Xavier, and most recently, St. Joseph High Schools have the opportunity to share with Salvadoran counterparts in an immersion experience.
In addition, each school has a long-term solidarity partnership with organized rural communities in El Salvador. Holy Trinity is "twinned" with San José Las Flores in Chalatenango province. Las Flores was one of the first communities repopulated by refugees who had been driven out by the Salvadoran Armed Forces during El Salvador's civil war from 1980-1992. Despite great odds, the community is an example of what solidarity and collective organization can achieve. To date, Holy Trinity students and teachers have contributed over $35,000 for education-based community projects in San José Las Flores, including a brand new computer lab and repairs to the town's school. Thanks to Holy Trinity's contributions in 2012, San José Las Flores' school will begin to set up a science lab and two graduating students will receive scholarships to help them continue their education.
St. Francis Xavier partnered with the Cabañas province community of Cinquera in 2011. Like Las Flores, Cinquera was also repopulated during the war. The community boasts a beautiful forest and protected area that attracts eco-tourists interested in the political-cultural history of the former conflict zone. St. Francis Xavier began its new partnership by supporting a high school and post-secondary scholarships program in Cinquera with an initial $7,000, supported the successful scholarship program with a second generous $7,250 contribution in 2012, and in 2013, contributed an outstanding $10,000 to the program! The program makes it easier for keen high school graduates to continue their education in university. And the beneficiaries give back to their community! Scholarship recipients also work as community organizers helping to build solidarity and social justice in Cinquera. SalvAide would also like to recognize the tireless commitment of Sister Shelley Lawrence, the St. Francis Xavier - Cinquera program founder, who retires in 2013 as St. Francis Xavier's Chaplain. We sincerely thank Sister Shelley for her solidarity and wish her nothing but the best in her much deserved retirement!
The latest Ottawa Catholic High School to join our program is St. Joseph. In February 2013, 11 students and teachers from the school will travel to El Salvador for the first time to learn about global social justice issues first hand in the rich Salvadoran cultural, historical, and political context. Delegates will also be exposed to the country's tradition in Catholic social teachings as expressed through the Popular Catholic Church legacy left by El Salvador's patron saint, Archbishop Oscar Romero, who was assassinated while giving mass by a government death squad in 1980. The St. Joseph delegation also is partnered with a small community in Chalatenango province, the canton of Hacienda Vieja, which is part of the municipality of San José Las Flores. Hacienda Vieja has a small K to grade 5 single classroom school whose students and lone teacher are very excited to meet their new Canadian friends!