Tuesday, August 11, 2020


CIS mission is to build relationships based on solidarity - mutual respect and mutual support. Our principle programs contribute to building communities and empowering women, youth, and those most marginalized to overcome poverty and to become advocates for social and economic justice, respect for the environment, and gender equality.

Our principal programs are youth scholarships and leadership development, women’s empowerment and micro enterprises, clean water and the environment, language and cultural exchange, delegations, and international election observation. We are also contributing to building dignified homes with partnerships with the local community and international partners. 

Paso Puente Community in the municipality of Tonacatepeque is made up of 150 families who were displaced by the 2001 earthquakes. They squatted on government land designated for economically marginalized families. They were granted title to their land in 2014. Still they lived in squalor conditions. CIS began to work with the community with the scholarship program and developing their community council. Still there was a lot of distrust toward anyone who came from outside. Only later did I learn that they had been swindled 3 or 4 times by people allegedly representing a foundation and asking for $50 - $100 each time from each family to develop a home building project. 

CIS was able to build off the experience of building 65 homes in Romero Community in 2016 after a decade long struggle to gain title to their land, and at the request of Romero Community and Paso Puente began to develop CIS programs in Paso Puente. In 2019, Holy Spirit Church in Kansas City became a partner with CIS and together with St. Elizabeth’s Parish are supporting scholarships and leadership development in the community. 

In 2019, CIS received a grant from the INTI RAYMI FOUNDATION for community support, but said we had to make sure everyone benefited equally. The leader of Romero Community, Raul Acevedo, asked CIS to invest it in Paso Puente. It was going to be a challenge with 150 families in need. We asked Raul to identify the 15 most marginalized families to start from there to contribute to dignified housing, and we would see how it developed from there. 

Then when a new government was sworn in on June 1st , 2019, we asked them to help CIS as we had the previous governments to support a transformation in the area and specifically to get potable water and homes for Paso Puente, and sewage and roads for the neighboring communities. To our surprise, they agreed immediately and visited the community on July 3rd, 2019 and have followed through on their commitment. Together CIS with the Salvadoran Ministry of Housing and FONAVIPO, Paso Puente Community, Homes from the Heart and international partners began to build and have now completed an additional 50 dignified homes.

Now, August 2020, there are 50 additional families in the community applying for support from FONAVIPO and CIS. The Salvadoran Government and the Ministry of Housing are committed to building dignified homes where they are most needed and have assured us that they want to continue the coalition with CIS and the communities. Homes from the Heart is one of CIS strategic partners raising funds for dignified homes.

This is part of an integral effort to transform the reality of an area stigmatized by violence, where youth have been accused of being gang members because of where they live, beaten up by authorities, and dismissed for consideration for a job application when they list their address; an area where the majority of the women could not read or write; an area where families lived in deplorable conditions, without basic services, and in shacks that cannot protect them from rain, pandemic, or crime. The CIS has worked with the women to get literacy classes. We now have over 50 scholarship students in Paso Puente and over 125 including the surrounding neighborhoods. We also include leadership and art and mental health workshops as many of the youth have been victims or witnesses to violence.

Now 65 more families have a safe place to guard quarantine and to be sheltered from the rain (130 total including Romero Community). We need your support to benefit an additional 50 families. The CIS contributes $4,000 per home. The Salvadoran Government is contributing $3,500 per home plus potable water, sewage and roads, invaluable infrastructure projects to complement the dignified homes. No donation is too big or too small.
  • $4,000 will complete a full home
  • $1,500 will build a bathroom with accessories
  • $1,200 will build a roof
  • $620 will pay for a tile floor
  • $580 will pay for electric installation and the pila where Salvadoran wash clothes.
  • $100 will pay for over site of the construction of each home.

This family is one of the new applicants for dignified homes in the Paso Puente Community.

This family is one of the new applicants for dignified homes in the Paso Puente Community.

We have lived for 18 years with many difficulties. A dignified home will mean better life and better studies. I have to study in deplorable conditions. My notebooks and important materials and books have been ruined and gotten wet in our shacks. We get sick from the humidity. The whole community has to share one water faucet, and it takes all day to fill a barrel of water. We sleep in fear because of the insecure nature of our shelter. We are marginalized by outsiders, who say only delinquents and thieves live in shanty towns. This project will improve our lives at all levels. We cannot afford to build our own homes, so this project is an enormous blessing.

-Community member July 2019.

We would like to thank all of you who have contributed to this project through Los Olivos CIS, Homes from the Heart, FONAVIPO, the Inti Raymi Foundation, Rainbow of Hope for Children, The Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, St. Rose Convent, The Pierce Foundation, The School Sisters of Notre Dame Atlantic and Midwest Province, Bob Chaney and family, community members and many other individuals and foundations who have contributed. 

We want to clarify that CIS is not a home building NGO. The community builds the homes and we support the process of building community. This effort is solidarity and part of a process of building and empowering communities who are willing to organize and be partners in the process. 

Written by Leslie Schuld, the CIS Director

No comments:

Post a Comment