Thursday, November 4, 2010

Time to Build the Kingdom

Here it is cool and “fall” like. We have had a sudden weather changeand it has been a shock to the agriculture of the region. The rainjust ended….weeks before it was supposed to. People watch as theirbeans just dry out by both wind and October sun. Life of thefarmer… in Latin America (live today because disaster alwayslurks around the corner). Now the weather “experts” say we will be struck with the effects oftwo hurricanes colliding somewhere, which will bring twenty days ofrain and wind. All predict disaster is coming. It is such a fear thatthe school is doing final exams next week and will close for the yearbefore the rains begin. Does anyone have experience at arc building?Does anyone know how long “300 cubits by 50 cubits by 30 cubits” is? Today my co-worker Luis Lopez left at 4:30 am for his audience withthe US embassy (it seems all journeys from El Salvador begin in thedark). A trip to the embassy is reminiscent of a trip to see theWizard of Oz. When Luis is called he will enter a room with mirrorsfor walls. He will slide his VISA application, passport and TamarindoFoundation letter (signed by our very own chairmen of the board Mr.Bud Frutkin) into a hole in the wall as a voice (the Wizardhimself?)” will begin to ask him questions. Imagine this voice coming from out of the glass, serious andefficient with no wasted emotion (like a scene from a Stanley Kubrickfilm); “What is your motive for traveling to the United States of America?” “How much money do you have in the bank?” “Do you own property?” “Who is this Bud Frutkin guy…? “ The “Wizard” doesn’t miss a trick. We hope that it will go well and wecan send him north on the 25th of October. His journey to four USstates will have five goals (with an extra three for fun): 1) invite new people to become part of our Tamarindo Community(organize local events, find new interns for the summer of 2011,discover new support in every creative way possible)2) meet and energize all of you on your home turf3) inspire much needed financial support4) enjoy the experience of being with all of you5) say thank you from all of us (for all that you do)6) skate on ice7) see an NHL hockey game8) in California visit the house of John Fogherty (Credence Clearwater Revival) The Tamarindo Community goes well with much emphasis these days oncommunity life and reflection. The work of analysis, understandingand prayer is paramount to everything that we do. We just completed afabulous theatrical presentation “The Voice of God: Calling Us”.Special effects included a chain saw, a mini forest and a lovelyperformance by David Petete as God. The central theme was ourresponsibility in “God’s Revolution”……building the kingdom. Thequestion to our community was; What are YOU doing today to build the“New Society” (change the world) ?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Wellness in Guarjila

Wellness in Guarjila

Over the past couple of months my morning hours have been occupied
with many visit from mom’s and dad’s who come to the office just to
talk about stress related issues. Many of the issues are related to
the fear of the new highway and losing their homes, economics, health
care concerns, and some depression related to children being so far
away in the Unites States. According to Dr. Dagaberto he is also
seeing the same kind of issues with his patients in the clinic here in

This has led us to develop with Santos Alfaro spaces for adult
recreation and exercise. The programs include walking, hiking,
swimming, indoor soccer and exercise classes which are being made
available to all adults in Guarjila. There is no question how
important these programs will become as part of an overall wellness
program for the people of this town. Like in the US there are still
skeptics that would still prefer expensive prescription medicine to
exercise and diet. We hope individual success will inspire others to
try on “wellness”.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Organic Food

Organic Food

In the past, April in Guarjila was all about preparing the land for
the planting of corn. April conversation was centered on when would
the rain begins so the work could begin. This year there seems very
little movement toward the land. Every year it seems that less and
less people are growing their own food. Luis Lopez told me he thinks
that only 50 % of the population in Guarjila will actually grow their
own food this year. This of course will have tremendous impact not
only on the health and well being of our people but will have a
tremendous effect on the culture of what was once campesino and rural.
It has become clear that the youth have little affinity to the land
which their mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters fought and died
on. There is also little appreciation for the agriculture of their

Our response to this has been to create an organic gardening space
here in the Tamarindo where Tamarindo’s can grow food, learn about
organic farming and even have fun doing it. The community has been
organized into four teams which will grow organic vegetables. The
teams will compete for the next five months, the length of the growing

Weather permitting the organic farming groups will be able to come to
the Tamarindo and work the garden at night under lights. Each team has
been given the same area to farm. Each team will also receive the same
seeds. The only rule is to use no chemical fertilizers or
insecticides. We have asked experienced members of the community to
come and give us technical advice and other assistance. Prizes will be
awarded at the end of the growing season to each team. Tamarindo hands
are going back into the soil.

Monday, June 28, 2010

We Invite You to Help Us Plant Trees

We Invite You to Help Us Plant Trees

In response to the highway destruction which will soon happen all
around us we in the Tamarindo have decided to start a reforestation
project with the people of Guarjila. It is our goal to plant 1750
trees (a tree for every person in Guarjila) over the summer months
inviting every sector of the community to get involved and plant
trees. We will also incorporate all our summer volunteers/interns as
well as our summer groups from California. With the help of our
community council we will begin to purchase trees over the next few

We also want to announce this campaign to all our friends and friends
of the environment. We would like to give you the opportunity to be a
part of our project by sponsoring a tree. Each tree sponsorship will
be $5 which will guarantee the purchase of a tree and it’s planting
here in Guarjila or in the hills that surround us.

We will be planting wood bearing trees (for construction and cooking
fuel) in the hills and fruit trees for family plots inside the
community. The highway construction will eliminate thousands of trees
so we invite you to stand with us and plant.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Highway to Divide Guarjila

The Highway to Divide Guarjila

Our big issue these days and (months) has been the construction of
this major highway that will link Chalatenango with Morazán. There are
already two major highways that run east to west, the Pan American
highway (Pan Americano) which stretches across the middle of the
country, and the Southern Highway (“Carretera El Literal”) which runs
along the southern coast. Now we see the beginning of the northern
highway being built with Millennium Funds from the United States which
is being called “La Longitudinal del Norte”. Our argument here is not
if the road should be built. The road will unquestionable benefit the
region and is a necessary part of development. The issue here is why
it has to be built right through Guarjila.

We have exhausted ourselves in meetings and conferences with
representatives from the Salvadoran government and private business.
We have heard promises about the benefits to Guarjila. We have seen
slick presentations showing the “new” Guarjila. Bottom line is the
road is coming. A road which will divide the Guarjila we know, take
out many houses (maybe my own), make walking in Guarjila a hazard for
elderly and children, and finally destroy thousands of trees which
Guarjila and El Salvador desperately need.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Summer Visitors

Summer Visitors

We just said goodbye to students from Lewis and Clarke College who
have committed to supporting our Community Wellness program next year.
Next summer we will also welcome interns from that college who will
come here on a Project for Peace grant.

We are also waiting on summer interns that will come from Stanford
University as well as St. Mary’s High School. They will be involved in
programs which will include gymnastics, art, music, swimming, English
instruction and youth and adult literacy.

In a week Dick Howard will be returning to us with Mitty High School.
The Mitty trip will include our annual visit to La Palma where the
Tamarindo/Mitty Soccer Cup will be played for once again. This is a
traveling trophy which has spent the year in California after the
Tamarindo/Mitty victory over La Palma in 2009. The Cup is won with a
combined score from both women and men’s soccer games. The
Tamarindo/Mitty teams are combined teams and it has been fun to watch
the Mitty student’s team up with Tamarindo’s to play very competitive
La Palma teams. This year’s men’s team will be organized by Santos
Alfaro and our women’s team will be led by Evelyn Henriquez. This year
will be the eighth addition to this wonderful rivalry.

Following Mitty High School we will receive Margaret Miller and St.
Francis High School. I had the opportunity to meet the incoming
students and their parents from St. Francis in the spring. They seem
real excited about coming and we are excited they are coming. We hope
to invite St. Francis parents to Guarjila in the fall.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010



At this writing the Chicago Blackhawks are leading the Philadelphia
Flyers 2-0 in the Stanley Cup Finals. We are also in our playoff
hockey season as four teams remain in the battle for the Tamarindo
Cup. All of your favorite players Luis, Gio, Carlos and Cobra all are
leading their teams into the semi-final round.

What this hockey season and those older players have created is a
remarkable interest in hockey in the kids here in Guarjila. We now
have groups of kids that practice daily at 4 pm and that hour has
become a very important “school” for us. As Bud Frutkin once wrote,
“no study…no soccer”. Well that idea has been expanded; No
responsibility…No commitment…..No respect…..No community service…No

Parents have been very grateful for what hockey is doing to facilitate
change in attitudes of their kids. For some kids like Capu, it’s the
only thing that he thinks about all day. That’s fine but he needs to
be responsible in every other area to qualify for practice at 4 (he is
never late).

It has been wonderful to see this ‘new’ commitment by young kids to
play which in turn is bringing them to new levels of growth as people.

Tropical Storm Agatha

Hello to all,

Notes from Guarjila..................

Tropical Storm Agatha

Life in El Salvador continues on. I guess it was something that I
learned and observed during the war. No matter how bad things can get
here, people keep moving forward. This week we suffered another blow;

It rained for at least five days non stop. When the rain ended
yesterday nine people had died, thousands had been evacuated from
their homes, roads and bridges had been destroyed and the president
had declared a national alert.

The president of El Salvador, Mauricio Funes, said that if the rain
continued through Monday, the country would have fallen into a major
disaster (thank God it stopped). The already challenged (and in some
cases non existent) infrastructure could not withstand one more drop.

Today as the sun shines over the rain soaked mountains there are still
families without homes, no land to farm, an infrastructure that is
badly beaten up and a good intentioned president who needs to figure a
way to relocate families to safety and come good on his many promises.
This is a country in need.

But what is amazing as the rain ends today, the sides of mountains
are filled with men and women planting corn seeds, planting the crop
which will feed them for another year. Undeterred by natural disaster,
war and what ever else may happen, seeds continue to be planted for
tomorrow. That is El Salvador.

Just a couple of notes on the storm. The many families that we are
working with at the Costa del Sol were all evacuated over the weekend
but today will return home. Here in Guarjila there was no damage to
homes or property. In the northern zone of Chalatenango we did see the
destruction of a large piece of the Sumpul River Bridge. The bridge
links the communities of northwest Chalatenango (Guarjila, Ellacuria,
San Jose las Flores with Nueva Trinidad and Arcatao). It was the
bridge that Jon Cortina built during the war. The swirling, rushing
water took out a chunk of the bridge. At the apex of the storm the
water rose two meters above the bridge. Currently vehicle crossing is
impossible but foot traffic is permitted. Critical public
transportation across the zone (Arcatao to Chalatenango) is now being
accomplished by relay. Buses from the north of the bridge are running
to the foot of the destruction at the Sumpul while other buses on the
Las Flores side meet the people crossing on foot and complete the run
to Chalatenango.

I can only imagine Fr. Jon Cortina (who reconstructed that bridge
during the war) seeing the destruction of this weekend. Jon had the
vision of a bridge that would link our communities with the capacity
to handle big trucks and buses, to not only move people but also
material to build. I guess Jon would say (with a huge smile….cigarette
in hand),”well it didn’t fall”. Then he would organize the
communities to reconstruct the broken section. The responsibility is
with the communities. Have no doubt it will be rebuilt.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

March Letter to the Foundation

Dear Team:

Despite having a frustrating few days without phone and internet it’s actually and very peaceful and beautiful morning here. Feels like lent; hot and dry with the rising sound of cicadas (which are called chichara here). As we get closer to Easter they will grow in volume and intensity.

As I am just getting to emails (three weeks worth), I have appreciated the notes about Carl Arnold. Needless to say he has done so much for us and I hope that we can do something for him. I have asked the Tamarindo’s to pray for him and this Sunday we will have a special intention for him and his family at our community mass. We also want to say how sorry we are for Pat’s loss. We also pray for her and her family. I don’t imagine there is a day in which Pat doesn’t pray for all of us and the people of Portillo. She is now in our prayers and hearts.

One Month in Solidarity with Haiti

It’s funny to live on this side of the fence sometimes. It’s seems we are always the one’s doing the asking; but for us. A scholarship here, a hockey stick there, a radio transmitter, whatever; we ask and you give to us with such generosity. For 35 seconds on January 12 Haiti suffered that extraordinary disaster, and all of us changed. For the Tamarindo it was time to stop asking for “me” but start asking for “them”.

On our side of the fence we watched the news, prayed, discussed what we saw and decided to do something about it.

Most of the Tamarindo’s don’t or can’t remember the years of war here or the three major earthquakes (1986, Jan. 2001/ Feb 2001) but they really did see and feel (as Romero would say…”Sentir con la Iglesia”) the people of Haiti.

From January 13 to February 28 we educated ourselves, walked the town educating others and asked the people of Guarjila to give in anyway they could. Some gave money, others rice and beans, others their time and energy.

Luis Lopez first put together a power point presentation which was presented to the Tamarindo’s and their families. People didn’t need much convincing to want to help. Then we presented to the pastoral team and the community council. We then devised a plan of action which all sectors of Guarjila would be involved in various fund raising activities in Guarjila.

Our Tamarindo’s and youth of Guarjila began by collecting money door to door in special Solidarity With Haiti Cans (which had a photo of “hands reaching toward heaven:”….designed by Luis). We also sold spaghetti dinners, thousands of tamales, fried yucca, pupusas, ran soccer tournaments, played games, raffled soccer balls and bicycles, sang and danced…..

This week will be sending $1000 to the Jesuit Refugee Service for their work with people of Haiti. It’s like a beautiful Salvadoran song from the war, “When the poor BELEIVE in the poor we can proclaim freedom…..”

Facing Crime with Love

As many of you know we have had a crime wave in Guarjila over the past few months. Houses have been robbed (including my own) as well as the telephone wires. The phone company refuses to replace them (I guess after six or seven robberies they too have lost their patience). What’s frustrating is that the “crime” is really being perpetrated by 6 or 8 kids from Guarjila.

We decided to first pray for these kids by name in public places; I mean everywhere, at mass, at Tamarindo meetings. I even have a sign on my front door (which is still smashed in from a rock from the last time they came to rob me). The sign says; “Greetings Antonio, Fausto, Leonel, Luis, Alex, Marvin, Carlos, Herbert….God is watching you……He loves you…..He wants you to change…..Take what you want…..Your life is worth so much more than anything that I have…..”

We then decided to ask the “gang” to organize their friends to make music and art, and they did. We now have two new groups in Guarjila, “Rebel Youth” which has become an artisan group and “Alternative Liberation” which has become a rock band.

Last week we realized our first “collective activity”| with the youth of Tamarindo, St. Mary’s High School, Rebel Youth and Alternative Liberation. It was sort of a rock/art night with music and dancing. It was really more than that. It was a night where kids who usually spend their nights outside of doors looking in came inside. The Rebel Youth were also able to sell their art (beaded jewelry, tie die shirts and bandanas, hats etc.)

It was amazing how wonderful the Tamarindo space seemed that other night; inclusive. Simply a place of love. We look forward to another rock/art night when Bishop Chatard comes to town next week.

For the record we haven’t had any incidence of crime (at least from that band) since we began our “initiative”.

Rosibel Orellana Director of Social Ministry/ Ariel is Now in School

I just wanted to say a word about having Rosibel on staff. She has an amazing relationship with the people of this town. She seems to know where every problem is; who is sick, who is in need, who is suffering, who needs a friend. She directs the Tamarindo’s to our weekly community service... She played a very key role in our month in solidarity with Haiti, running most of the fund raising programs and really pushing all of us in a great direction.

She also works as a special need educator in Guarjila. She works very hard to see that children and young adults in Guarjila live with dignity and joy. Many of you may know Ariel the little brother of Jessica and Erica. He has cerebral palsy and right now is in a wheel chair. Last week he started school in Guarjila and is the first Guarjila student to attend school in a wheel chair. Now that is amazing…… He cried last Saturday when they told him there wasn’t school any school on Saturday. Share in our joy, Ariel is in kindergarten.

For the record, Rosi was a huge part of the Tamarindo victory over St. Mary’s High School in softball last weekend. Hopefully she will have a great game against Chatard…. (now if President Mike Qualters was in town, would he play for Chatard or the Tamarindo?)

President Funes and the Road Through Guarjila

President Mauricio Funes visited Guarjila a couple of weeks ago. He was met by a supportive crowd despite the presence of a lone European protestor and a hand full of his companions who held signs that said, “Funes Has Sold Out”. In the latest Prensa Grafica poll President Funes enjoys a 73% national approval rating for his first nine months in office. Our Guarjila President Tino Guardado Menjivar presented President Funes with a signed petition from the community asking him not to approve the construction of a four lane highway which will run through the center of Guarjila. The road has currently been approved. It was also discovered that three Guarjila families have been paid by the construction companies to “sell” the project to the town.

President Funes told the people of Guarjila that he would not and will not approve any project that will compromise the integrity of Guarjila. Let’s hope that this is one promise President Funes will keep.

President Tino Guardado Menjivar

Our Guarjila President Tino Guardado is suffering from some sort of heart condition. Last week he went into a seizure and was rushed to the hospital. Despite having this emergency condition he was given an appointment with a cardiologist for June. This week Guarjila’s own cardiologist Dr. Jaime Rodil will be in Guarjila where we hope he will be able to assess Tino’s condition and work with the Tamarindo Foundation to find Tino the help he needs as soon as possible. Tino is 29 years old and deserves a chance at a long and productive life. Santos Alfaro has become the active Guarjila President while Tino recovers. Please pray for him.

Team Canada and Tamarindo Hockey

There really isn’t any connection between us and Team Canada I just thought it would get your attention. We are currently in our hockey season with over 65 players in three divisions. We have 24 players playing in our “elite division”. We will be going to San Salvador to play an exhibition match before the Minister of Sport in April as part of our growing relationship with the National Institute of Salvadoran Sport. We have already been recognized by that body as an example of a sports program with a community development/education component, which is the focus of the new sports minister, Jaime Rodriquez.


Girls Soccer 11 and Under

This week we will begin a new indoor soccer program for girls under 11. The program will be run by Evelyn Enriquez and Kenia Dubon. The team will develop a girls only program focused on self esteem building, positive role models, and healthy minds and bodies. This week the team is recruiting girls in the community and the first session will begin next Monday night.

Tamarindo Theatre/The Way of the Cross in Guarjila

We have already begun preparing the Way of the Cross in Guarjila, which is our annual stage presentation in Guarjila. We hope to incorporate youth and adults from every sector of the community, including members of the Guarjila Pastoral team, Team Indiana, Rebel Youth, Alternative Liberation and the Tamarindo.

We will focus on the suffering, liberation and resurrection of Christ by looking at life in Guarjila in 2010 (stations will treat suicide, domestic violence, drug addiction, environmental desecration, among other critical community issues)

This really is one of the biggest community events of the year with usually over 1000 people in attendance.

Thirtieth Anniversary of the Assassination of Oscar Romero

On March 24 the world community will join El Salvador in remembering Oscar Romero thirty years after his martyrdom. We will be sharing that special day with Bishop Chatard (how fortunate for them to have this day). We are still planning but we hope to attend the solemn mass at the Divine Providence Hospital in the morning and then perhaps make a pilgrimage to El Mozote and spend the day there. It should be an extraordinary celebration as the world will be coming to town.

Final Note

As we move deeper into Lent we realize that God’s invitation for us here never ends. Like the Tamarindo itself the door remains open but the commitment is inside. Let us enter that door and make a commitment to building a community of love.

Monday, March 1, 2010

March Calendar

March 6th
St. Mary's Delegation Departs

March 8th
Organization Meeting discussing Theater, Hockery, and the Girls Program

March 9th
Hockey Night

March 10th
Reflection Night - Lent

March 11th
Community Mass
Community Dinner

March 12th
Friday Night Meeting

March 13th
Football School
La Laguna

March 15th
Organization Night discussing Theater and Chatard Delegation
Assembly for Girls under 11

March 16th
Hockey Night

March 17th
Reflection Night - Lent

March 18th
Community Mass
Community Dinnder
Prepare for Chatard Delegation

March 19th
Chatard Arrives
Dinner Meeting

March 20th
Children's Soccer

March 21st
Community Service
Salvadoran Culture Night - Cooking

March 22nd
Maryknoll Sisters
Rutilio Grande
Music & History Night

March 23rd
Music Night

March 24th
Romero Mass

March 25th
Beach Day

March 26th
Chatard Departs
Tamarindo Meeting

March 27th
Hockey Night

March 28th
Leadership Retreat
Assembly for Girls under 11

March 29th
Organization Meeting evaluating Chatard Delegation

March 30th

March 31st

Monday, February 15, 2010

Planchita / Escuela de Futbol Tamarindo Report

Planchita/ Escuela de Futbol Tamarindo Report
January- February

- We currently are working with 60 students in the Sports School
8 to 20 years old

-We are organized into 4 classes or groups divided by ages and ability

-Currently we are working with five coaches; myself, Arnulfo Dubon, Luis Lopez, Juan Guiliano and Miguel Dubon. We hope to incorporate two women coaches in March who are currently working in the Tamarindo with small girls.

-The members of the school seem very happy with the project as they show great interest in what they are doing as well as expressing thanks for this opportunity to be a part of such a “school”.

-It must be noted that our work goes far beyond the field and that our school’s goal is to not only provide instruction in sports but be a source of integral formation. Our interest goes far beyond the field and we care what students do off the field, in the community in their homes and at school.

-After two months I can say that our groups have been disciplined I would say that also applies to the coaching staff.

-The aspect of discipline seems to be the most difficult for the students as they are not accustomed to that. Many just want to play but the program we have demands something more from each student.

-We have organized several clean ups of both the soccer and baseball fields. Cleanups are executed before each training session.
-We began digging up the volleyball/baseball area purchasing soil as we prepare for the seeding during the rainy season

-We had four training goals built in Guarjila. The goals will be used during practice sessions both at the Planchita and the community field which we are preparing.

-We began preparation of another field (the community field) for use by our groups as well as other children located by the old Tamarindo shop. We felt we needed more space due to the number of students and groups that want to play. The preparation has included cutting brush, digging up soil (to flatten areas), removing bushes with thorns, and contracting a tractor to help us flatten the field out. All labor was on a voluntary basis.

-We have started a small walking group led by Noemi Alfaro and Serinda Lopez. Currently we have six people involved. In March we hope to receive more referrals from the clinic for people to walk as part of an over all health program

-We organized a soft ball game between Guarjila and St. Mary’s High School from California. The Tamarindo team won the game. The game was the beginning of our softball/baseball program which we hope to develop in March and April.

-We are currently preparing for an encounter with another sports school in the town of La Laguna. The director of the school is a friend of mine from school. We plan to have soccer games, softball, and a chance for the students to share experiences. This is the first of several encounters we have planned for 2010.

-I also want to thank you for your help in making our school a reality. God Bless You.

Santos Alfaro

Saturday, January 9, 2010

A Reflection on 3 Funerals


Nine days…three funerals.

Yesterday we buried Nina Chana. She was 93 years old. She was a
Chalateca and a fighter that lived through two wars and knew a
poverty that we can’t even imagine. She gave herself and the lives of
her husband and children to the revolution. As she grew old she knew
darkness, solitude and heartache. Danny said, “I guess she was just
too tired and died.”

I always thought she resembled a mountain lion. She was strong, lean
and had steely blue eyes that seemingly could penetrate through
anything. She couldn’t see from those eyes, despite surgery by George
and treatment from Tom (they may remember her as the women the people
called “the Witch”).

Despite being blind she spent most of her days gathering wood in the
hills where she would carry her machete in one hand and large loads of
tied, cut trees on her head. She would navigate rocks, stumps,
streams, animals, buses and cars with a very long, thin wooden staff
cut from a tree branch.

She didn’t speak much. She just seemed to cry out most of the
time….”aghhhhhhhhhhhhhh, aghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh”, and however it is
written, it sounded like it came from a very deep place, a very
painful place.

She never liked sleeping in a house and chose to live alone in a
small, open, “lean to” along the side of the road. She had nothing
there; just stacks of wood, a dog and a pot where she would cook
some kind of soup daily.

She had long ago lost flesh and muscle and was mostly bones ( a
walking skeleton). She had long legs and thin, white hair. Her skin
was dark and dry from years of sun and seemed to fit tightly around
her bones; like a sheet to a bed. As she walked her heart beat heavy.
Looking at her you could see both her chest and ribs rise and fall
with every breadth. She wore the same mended dress most days and it
was almost transparent from years of washings on rocks.

Yesterday I loved what Don Teecho said about her at the funeral mass,
“Chana was the revolution, in heart, body and soul. She worked on the
supply lines and was an expert at sneaking food and batteries past the
soldiers….more than anything else she always shared her food and

She suffered rejection by her own family. They always seemed to be
ashamed of her. Only one son came to the funeral and he stood off in a
distant corner during the mass, not wanting to be noticed by his own

She was also mistreated by the gangs. They would tie her up and knock
her to the ground. They would burn her few positions as she cried
out….not being able to see who was committing those atrocities against

Yesterdays mass was full of her friends. The great women of Guarjila,
mother’s, grandmothers, revolutionaries; sang, cried and walked with
their comrade for the last time.

Feliciana Menjivar (Nina Chana), a veteran of a “rough life” will no
longer suffer. I can only hope has she has found comfort, somewhere.

Then there is the case of Abel (the second of two Abel’s to die….just
days apart). He was 20 years old. On Wednesday he decided to put rat
poison in his beer and take his own life.

He was always a troubled kid. Never did well in school and dropped
out. He made an effort to be a Tamarindo early on, but too many rules
and structure drove him elsewhere. He then dedicated himself to
“Guarjila crime” stealing chickens and robbing houses (he became
particularly fond of robbing my house).

He then graduated to selling drugs; pot and crack mostly. He would
eventually go to San Salvador where he joined an organized gang and
became a “street dealer” for them.

A year ago he became involved with Maria a fifteen year old Tamarinda,
not long after, Carlos came, their first and only son. Abel seemed to
have found some peace when Carlos was born. He always wanted people
to see him as a dad.

Just before Christmas he disappeared. They say he went back to the
street. They also say that he stole money, (or didn’t pay off) the
“big guy”. He apparently couldn’t pay what he owed and in his
desperation he took that last drink.

Not many people came by to pay their last “respects”, not even his own family.

We helped bury him; Gio, Luis, Rosibel….we seem to have the routine down by now.

We pray for him and his tormented soul. We pray that he has found forgiveness.

And so begins a new generation of poverty. Maria and Carlos. Child with child.