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.
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.
Written by Priyanka Borpujari in News Deeply on January 18, 2017.
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.
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.”
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.
Produced by Susan Saudek, SEW Board Member.