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CIS Community Network Meeting

It was the first meeting of 2017 for the CIS Community Network with Wendy Castillo with Asociación Solidaria para Impulsar el Desarrollo Humano (ASPIDH), a tall, short-haired woman with a booming voice and a wicked sense of humor. She whirled, demonstrated, danced, and illustrated ways that sexual diversity is met here in El Salvador. Wendy’s rapid-fire questions teased out the hypocrisy and injustice embedded in language, expectations, and opportunity based on gender stereotypes. As an example, in El Salvador it is common for positive words to be associated with masculinity and negative ones with femininity. Wendy asks to the group, “And what is the most degrading thing you can call a man? If you want to make him feel his very core is worthless, that he is a total and complete failure?” It’s easy, you just pick a word that is used to describe a woman! “Little girl, woman, princess, a hen with eggs…” the participants of the Community Network supply.

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The Salvadoran Ex-Guerrilla Who Learned to Read to Stop Corporate Mining

The story of Maria Lidia Guarado is typical of the transformation that takes place among women in El Salvador when they become empowered. Women in the SEW businesses have been part of the resistance that has saved their land from exploitation by Canadian mining companies . Marie Lidia's story is a source of hope for the women of El Salvador.

Read the article here.

 Written by Priyanka Borpujari in News Deeply on January 18, 2017.


SEW Women’s Indigo Cultivation and Organic Gardening Cooperative

The SEW Indigo Cultivation and Organic Gardening Business in San Isidro have processed their first indigo crop into dye. The ambitious 7 women business has received ongoing training from Cuisnahaut. The training and the work of cultivating indigo is labor intensive, beginning with the first planting of the jiquilite seeds to the actual indigo powder, so in demand within and outside of El Salvador.

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Kinship: We Belong to Each Other

What do Salvadoran Enterprises for Women (SEW) and Homeboy Industries, a gang centered mission in Los Angeles, have in common? In Fr. Greg’s words, “kinship.” In his 30 years working with gang members, he has sought to help them recognize their dignity and challenged them to transform their lives through work. Exactly, he said, what SEW does with the women in El Salvador.

Jose and David, two of the Homeboys, shared stories of a childhood surrounded by parents who were addicts and by violence and gangs as a way of life. The welcoming and loving outreach by Fr. Greg, which they often rejected, finally brought them home to themselves as worthwhile human beings “loved by God exactly as they are.” This was the impetus to change for them. Fr. Greg spoke of countless others whom Homeboys Industries has helped turn their lives around. He encouraged us in these troubled times to remember that, “No one stands outside the circle of compassion. We stand with those whose dignity has been denied; occasionally with the demonized so that the demonizing will stop. We stand with the disposable so that we remember that we belong to each other.”

Greg BoyleFr. Greg Boyle, SJ, Founder of Homeboys Industries
Sr. Anne Marie GardinerSr. Anne Marie Gardiner, SSND, Founder of Salvadoran Enterprises for Women
HomeboysHomeboys Jose and David with SEW Board Members Sr. Marie and Susan Saudek, and Fr. Greg Boyle
BoardSalvadoran Ambassador Dr. Claudia Canjura de Centeno, seated next to Sr. Anne Marie, with SEW Board Members Patricia Flynn, SSND, Marie Chiodo, DW, Hannah Shultz, Susan Saudek and Tom Howarth
Book signingBook signing—Greg and SEW Board Member, Mary Gunning
Q and ALively Q and A session with Fr. Greg and Homeboys

Salvadoran Enterprises for Women is deeply grateful to Fr. Greg, Jose and David for freely offering this speaking benefit for SEW and to Fr. Stephen Planning, SJ for the use of Gonzaga High School for this event.


SEW - A Story of Hope and Transformation

Produced by Susan Saudek, SEW Board Member.


Don't Touch the Idols

In the Bible it says: “Unless a grain of wheat falls upon the ground and dies, it remains just a single grain, but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”

In 1989, a death squad of the Salvadoran Armed Forces dragged six Jesuit priests out of their beds and splatted their brains on the ground at the University of Central America in San Salvador, El Salvador.  Two women, a mother and daughter, died with the priests so that there would be no witnesses to the horrendous crime.  The world was shocked.  The American Ambassador said he wasn’t sure if the forces of the left or the right were responsible for the deaths.  The international community demanded a full and independent investigation.  The Salvadoran government, stalled for time.  Finally, when the US Congress withheld 50% of military aid, the colonels ran out of time.

The Jesuits and their two women co-workers were the grains of wheat that fell upon the ground and died and bore fruit in the 1992 Peace Accords that ended a 12-year civil war.

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Zika is a virus transmitted by the same mosquito that transmits Dengue, with mild to moderate symptoms, but might be linked to microencephaly if a woman is infected during pregnancy. A recent Washington Post headline read: ”As Zika virus spreads, El Salvador asks women not to get pregnant until 2018.” Once again, women are given the sole responsibility for a situation that needs to involve men if there is to be a solution that would prevent a Zika pregnancy epidemic. Pregnant women who contract the Zika virus run the risk of giving birth to a child with microencephaly – children born with abnormally small heads who may suffer brain damage as well. Morena Herrera, President of the Citizen’s Group for the Decriminalization of Abortion, stated that “preventing pregnancies in situations of risk…isn’t a bad option, but it’s not enough. We don’t think it is taking into account the realities of women in El Salvador.” Nor does it hold men responsible. Morena speaks from her experience of women in El Salvador where too many women are victims of violence and resulting rape, where women are frequently in submissive relationships with little control over their bodies.

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Remembering Ita, Maura, Jean and Dorothy

December 2nd is a day for remembrance, celebration, and continued advocacy for justice in El Salvador. Why? On the night of Dec. 2, 1980, four church women were violently murdered by the Salvadoran army. Maryknoll sisters Ita Ford and Maura Clarke, lay missioner Jean Donovan and Ursuline sister Dorothy Kazel were victims of a government that targeted those working with the most vulnerable, those in desperate need because of the devastation of the civil war that raged in El Salvador for 12 brutal years.

Ita, Maura, Jean and Dorothy’s crime was providing aid and comfort to the many desperate civilians caught in the scorched earth policy of the government. Their assassination awakened many in the U.S. and in other countries to the realities of the smallest country in Central America and compelled many to insist on a full investigation, not only of these brutal deaths, but of the legitimacy of the government in El Salvador.

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Giving Tuesday

Last week was Thanksgiving followed by Black Friday and yesterday was Cyber Monday. The last few years, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving has been named "Giving Tuesday." Most of us here at SEW don't get too excited about Black Friday and Cyber Monday but we do like the sounds of Giving Tuesday.

We're coming up on the end of the year and thinking toward next year. Over the past 12 years, we've helped dozens of women start 18 businesses ranging from bakeries to sewing operations to a distribution center. Those businesses and the workshops the business owners have attended have had a hugely positive impact on the lives of these women. But all of this work requires money. We have a very lean budget and big successes and more plans. Please consider making a donation to SEW today.