Our Blog

This blog is a place for our staff, members and supporters to share news and reflections about Sister Parish.  You can sign up for our e-news to receive updates or contact us to submit a piece of your own.  See blog archives.

Blog en español.

Posted in Español, General

Tierra Nueva 2 distributes third round of food aid / Tierra Nueva 2 distribuye tercera ronda de apoyo alimentario

(Click on the photos to enlarge / Haga clic en las fotos para verlas en grande)

Texto en español después del texto en ingles.

In Chinautla, the Sister Parish committee is continuing to organize and deliver food aid in their community. The committee has prioritized people with special needs, elders, and single mothers, as well as families living in more precarious conditions deep in the steep ravines of the community. Many families in the community lived in poverty and uncertainty before the pandemic emergency, which has only exacerbated those conditions.



En Chinautla, el Comité de Hermanamiento continua organizando y distribuyendo apoyo alimentario en la comunidad. El comité ha priorizado a personas con necesidades especiales, madres solteras, y personas de la tercera edad, así como a familias que viven en condiciones más precarias en el fondo de los barrancos de la comunidad. Muchas familias de la comunidad vivían en la pobreza y la incertidumbre económica antes de la pandemia, hecho que ha agravado esas condiciones.

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St. Joan of Arc Solidarity Walk / Caminata Solidaria de Santa Juana del Arco

(Click on the photos to enlarge / Haga clic en las fotos para verlas en grande)

Texto en español después del texto en ingles.

On October 4, 2020, St. Joan of Arc Catholic Community church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, hosted a socially distanced Solidarity Walk to benefit the Sister Parish. It was a beautiful, sunny day for a walk. Over twenty people from St. Joan of Arc, all wearing masks, gathered at Minnehaha Park as a reflection on the bonds of love and solidarity that exist between St. Joan of Arc and our sister parish Tierra Nueva 2 in Chinaulta, Guatemala. The theme of the walk, “We are called”, was especially appropriate for these challenging times. The group started with a greeting circle, then several self-directed groups of 3 to 4 people separated in order to walk, read and reflect at three virtual “stations”. After the walk, the group came back together for a closing prayer and photo. Several people stayed to enjoy picnic lunches and fellowship. Even though we can’t be together with our sisters and brothers in Guatemala right now, this gathering helped fill our longing for community and hermanamiento -sisterhood and brotherhood.



El 4 de octubre del 2020 la iglesia de la Comunidad Católica de Santa Juana del Arco en Minneapolis, Minnesota organizó una Caminata Solidaria con cuidados de distanciamiento social en beneficio a Iglesias Hermanas. Fue un día hermoso y soleado para caminar. Más de veinte personas de Santa Juana del Arco, todas con mascarillas, se reunieron en el parque Minnehaha para reflexionar sobre los lazos de cariño y solidaridad que existen entre Santa Juana del Arco y nuestra iglesia hermana Tierra Nueva 2 en Chinaulta, Guatemala. El tema de la caminata “Somos llamados”, fue especialmente apropiado para estos tiempos que estamos viviendo. El grupo comenzó con una ronda de saludos y luego varios grupos autodirigidos de 3 a 4 personas se separaron para caminar, leer y reflexionar en tres “estaciones” virtuales. Después de la caminata el grupo volvió a reunirse para una oración final y una foto. Varias personas se quedaron para disfrutar de un almuerzo y compartir un poco. A pesar de que en este momento no podemos estar juntos con nuestras hermanas y hermanos en Guatemala, esta reunión ayudó con nuestro anhelo por el hermanamiento.

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Reflexión de un médico en El Salvador

por Carlos Orellana

Carlos es médico en una clínica rural en Chalatenango, El Salvador. También es un líder comunitario y un miembro muy activo en el hermanamiento que su comunidad Potrerillos mantiene con Decorah First United Methodist Church.


El último mes en cuarentena ha sido difícil. Como médico puedo decir que en un principio podríamos tomar el control,  y como médico pensé que a nosotros, en las comunidades rurales, no nos afectaría demasiado esta pandemia. En ese momento pensaba más como médico de cabecera de una clínica de salud rural comunitaria. Fue hasta que me trasladaron al hospital Regional de nivel secundario en Chalatenango, cuando vi más claramente esta realidad de la pandemia. Mi tarea inicial fue como médico en la atención primaria de pacientes con COVID. En este camino pude enfrentar el miedo, no solo mis propios miedos, por estar expuesto diariamente a la contaminación además del estrés por no tener mucho contacto con mi familia y más allá de eso, el temor a contaminarlos.

Algún tiempo después, me requirieron para apoyar al equipo de la morgue, allí experimenté el miedo a la muerte, dolor, pena, sufrimiento, vacío, deshumanización pero aun con todo eso, también experimenté el sentido más profundo de la humanidad en toda su extensión.

Carlos y su esposa Alba durante su visita al hermanamiento en Decorah.
Carlos hace una presentación con una delegación de Iglesias Hermanas en noviembre de 2019 sobre los esfuerzos comunitarios para garantizar el agua potable a la comunidad.
Campañas de sanitización en Potrerillos para desinfectar espacios públicos en el contexto de la pandemia.
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Sister Parish Emergency Aid Update – September 2020

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to the Sister Parish emergency aid fundraiser.  We have raised enough to provide every Sister Parish community with aid money to use as they define based on their greatest need.  The majority of funds disbursed so far have been used for food aid and basic hygiene supplies like soap, toothpaste, and toilet paper.

As of September 2020, aid disbursed has included:

  • Food aid to hundreds of families, with priority given to elders, single mothers, differently-abled people, people living with a chronic illness, craft cooperative members and others who lost their jobs due to COVID-19, and farmers who lost their crops to drought last year
  • Masks and basic hygiene supplies
  • Electric repairs at a health clinic
  • No-touch thermometers for two health clinics
  • Medication to treat COVID-19 for a health clinic serving two urban communities
  • Medication to treat chronic illnesses
  • Vitamins

Sister Parish communities that have organized local relief efforts with the funds include:

  • Tierra Nueva 2
  • Tierra Nueva 1
  • UPAVIM
  • San Andrés Itzapa
  • Chichipate
  • Virginia
  • Chontalá

Communities in El Salvador will be disbursing food aid and medication with the emergency funds in September and October.

This will be a long-term emergency for many Sister Parish communities.  Even when the health crisis passes, recovery from the economic crisis will be a long road.  We will keep our fundraiser open and will continue to disburse funds as needed, as we accompany people through this difficult time.

Thank you to everyone who has made this possible.  Thank you to those who donated and thank you to the Sister Parish members in Guatemala and El Salvador who are volunteering their time and taking risks to serve those most in need in their communities.

Organizing food drive in Chichipate.

Organizing food baskets in Tierra Nueva 1.

Clinic in need of repairs.

Clinic after a new roof and electricity had been installed.

Preparing to give out food baskets in Tierra Nueva 2.

Food aid efforts in Tierra Nueva 2.

Organized food packages in Tierra Nueva 2.

Packages of food aid and supplies delivered in Villa Nueva.

Organizing food aid in Virginia.

Preparing to hand out food aid in Chontalá.

Handing out food aid in San Andrés Itzapa.

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Update with Brian Tyler – August 2020

Sister Parish Regional Coordinator, Brian Tyler, shares a brief update from Guatemala.

 
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Zoom conversation with Dina – August 29

UPAVIM President Dina Velásquez gave us an update over Zoom about how the cooperative and community center based in urban Guatemala is weathering the pandemic. Dina also shared her thoughts on solidarity and faith in the pandemic.

Dina is a founding member and long-time leader within both UPAVIM and Sister Parish. We are grateful she was able to share with us over Zoom. For more information about you can visit the UPAVIM website and/or support the community center by shopping for masks and other beautiful crafts.

*Sister Parish provided consecutive translation for the Zoom meeting.

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Reflection from a rural doctor in El Salvador – Carlos Orellana

by Carlos Orellana

En español

Carlos is a doctor in a rural health clinic in Chalatenango, El Salvador.  He is also a community leader and a very involved member of the Sister Parish relationship that his community Potrerillos has with Decorah First United Methodist Church.


The past month in quarantine has been difficult.  In the very beginning, as a doctor, I thought we would be able to control the pandemic. At the time, I thought that the rural communities wouldn’t be too affected. At that moment I was thinking as the head doctor of a rural health care clinic.

It was not until I was transferred to the regional hospital in Chalatenango that I understood the reality more clearly.  Initially, I was working as a primary care doctor for COVID-19 patients. At this point, I was able to face the fear, not just my fears for myself because of my daily exposure to the disease, but also the stress of not having much contact with my family and the fear that, with contact, I could pass the virus on to them.

Later, I was asked to go and help the team in the morgue, where I witnessed  and felt pain, sorrow, suffering, empathy, and the fear of death.  I also witnessed dehumanization.  But in the middle of all of that, I felt what it really means to be human at the deepest level.

Carlos and his wife Alba on a visit to their sister community in Decorah, Iowa in 2014.

Carlos talks to our 2019 Open Delegation about efforts to find funding for a potable water project in Potrerillos.

Volunteers work to clean and disinfect public spaces in rural communities in El Salvador. Potrerillos, Chalatenango.

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Movement for racial justice

“This is an emergency. I’m not talking about the coronavirus. I’m talking about racism. As all the universities in the world scramble to try to find a cure for the coronavirus – that same level of concern and action is needed to rid our society of the virus that is racism. I am calling for a declaration of a state of emergency for Black people. Racism is a public health crisis.”

–Andrea Jenkins, city council member in Minneapolis, 2020

“I will not tire of declaring that if we really want an effective end to violence we must remove the violence that lies at the root of all violence: structural violence, social injustice, exclusion of citizens from the management of the country, repression. All this is what constitutes the primal cause, from which the rest flows naturally.”

— Saint Oscar Romero, Salvadoran martyr and saint, 1979

In the wake of the George Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis and the widespread calls for systemic change in the U.S., Sister Parish joins the call that Black Lives Matter and supports the efforts led by Black people, Indigenous people and all People of Color to end systems of racism and inequality in the U.S.  We recognize that the calls are not new and did not start with George Floyd’s death but started with the unjust systems deeply rooted in our country, systems now exacerbated by the pandemic.  We call for justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, Rayshad Brooks, Elijah McClain, Philando Castile, Jamar Clark, Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, Eric Garner, and too many others killed by systemic and structural violence. We acknowledge the deep pain and grief that communities throughout the U.S. are feeling right now.

We believe that all people deserve to live with dignity and basic human rights. We also believe that true solidarity means recognizing and actively working to challenge and change unjust systems in partnership with the most impacted people.  The systems of racism and inequality are an integral part of U.S. history and the current reality, but they are also global systems, spread through colonialism and imperialism.  Calls for justice in Guatemala, in El Salvador, in the U.S., and throughout the world are intertwined.

As the Sister Parish community, what can we do?  We can listen, educate ourselves, and take action individually and collectively.  We can build new long-lasting relationships to promote racial justice and transform systems that oppress people. Our sistering relationships have always underlined the importance of listening, learning, and making commitments to change ourselves and our communities.  We believe that this work and each person’s journey exist on a continuum.  We are works in progress – always – and there are no simple solutions to such deeply rooted, painful injustices.  But we need to keep taking steps to uproot racism and anti-blackness in our communities and in our own hearts.  We invite our Sister Parish communities to join us in conversations, wherever people are on this journey.

What does our vision for our better world look like? What do we need to do to move our world toward one of compassion, justice, and equality in the midst of such deep crises?   In the words of Sister Parish member Miriam Vásquez, “This is hard, but we are called as Christians…to listen to the cries for help and take action. We want people alive and active in these times of violence and the pandemic.”

Thank you for being part of our Sister Parish family.  May we challenge ourselves to take more and bigger steps to dismantle racism as part of our long walk in solidarity with each other.

Sister Parish staff and board

A few resources

The following resources are only a small portion of what is available. If you are interested in sharing your local resources and actions, please let us know and we can add them.

Denominational racial justice resources

News, training and materials from organizations that work for racial justice

En español

Posted in Education and Advocacy, News, United States | Tagged | Leave a comment

Tierra Nueva 2 – Second round of food aid

In June, the Sister Parish committee in Tierra Nueva 2, Guatemala organized a second round of food aid.  For the first round, they focused on providing food baskets and basic hygiene supplies to elders and single mothers, those thought to be among the most vulnerable to the negative economic impact of the shelter-at-home orders.  For the second round, the committee handed out food aid and basic supplies to people who had been quarantined after positive COVID-19 cases were found at the garment factories (maquilas) where they worked.  At that time, the Ministry of Health in Guatemala was supervising quarantine for families who had known exposure to the virus.  Families could not leave their homes for two weeks and relied on neighbors for food and basic necessities. Most of the workers were suspended without pay for this period.  The committee also included a few more at-risk members of the church in the second round of food aid.

Thank you TN2 for your example of solidarity in times of crisis.

 

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Moving to virtual hugs – Hacia los abrazos virtuales

Español abajo

Like most organizations in the pandemic, Sister Parish is transitioning to more and more online connections.  Whether it is Zoom, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, videos, photo campaigns, or our own unique combinations, we are committed to connecting our communities in our faith, in our lives and in our calls for justice.

Contact us to coordinate online activities with your partner community.  Below are just some of the ways that sister communities are connecting in the time of social distancing:

  • Bible study
  • Photo solidarity campaign
  • Committee meetings
  • Special festivals, for patron saints or anniversaries
  • Virtual delegation
  • Any other wonderful ideas you have for connecting despite distance

—-

Como la mayoría de las organizaciones en los tiempos de la pandemia, Sister Parish está haciendo la transición hacia más y más conexiones en línea. Ya sea a través de Zoom, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, videos, campañas fotográficas ,o nuestras propias combinaciones únicas, estamos comprometidos a conectar a nuestras comunidades en nuestra fe, en nuestras vidas y en nuestros llamados a la justicia.

Contacte con nosotros para coordinar actividades en línea con su hermanamiento.  Abajo se encuentran algunas ideas que los hermanamientos están usando para mantener viva la comunicación a pesar del distanciamiento social:

  • Estudio bíblico
  • Campaña de fotos en solidaridad
  • Reuniones del comité
  • Participación en festivales, como fiestas patronales u otras fechas conmemorativas
  • Delegación virtual
  • Cualquier otra idea que tengan para conectarnos a pesar de la distancia

Reunion call with Wallingford UMC and Guarjila. / Reunión con Seattle y Guarjila.

Danville CC participates in San Antonio’s patron saint festival. / La iglesia de Danville participa en la fiesta patronal de San Antonio.

Bible Study with St Joan of Arc and TN2. / Estudio Biblico con Santa Juana y Tierra Nueva 2.

Solidarity photo campaign for the anniversary of the Sumpul River massacre. / Campaña de solidaridad para el aniversario de la masacre del Río Sumpul.

Solidarity photo campaign for the anniversary of the Sumpul River massacre. / Campaña de solidaridad para el aniversario de la masacre del Río Sumpul.

Solidarity photo campaign for the anniversary of the Sumpul River massacre. / Campaña de solidaridad para el aniversario de la masacre del Río Sumpul.

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