During the long winter break at DePaul, I took the opportunity to participate on a ten day service trip to El Salvador. These service trips are offered through University Ministry at DePaul and I went with fourteen other individuals.
El Salvador is a country located in Central America; it is filled with rich culture, history and great food! Its revolution lasted around ten years and during that time there were lots of missing people, lots of murders and lots of evil things going on. My group and I learned the realities of El Salvador. There were lots of massacres that occurred during the war, but the famous one is El Mozote. El Mozote happened on December 11, 1981 and nearly a thousand people were massacred, most being children. My group and I stood in the land where this happened. We went to many historical places in the country, but El Mozote really stuck with me.
Many Salvadorians have disappeared, some have been tortured and others have been killed because they are accused of being part of the guerillas. Where is God in the country? Oscar Romero, the archbishop of El Salvador was a timid man who slowly became the voice of the voiceless people. He became a strong figure who fought for justice. Unfortunately, Romero was assassinated in 1980 while he was celebrating mass. His death changed the people of the country; Romero quickly became symbolic because of his hard work and dedication to the common people, especially the poor. His legacy remains alive within the people and he is not forgotten.
After all the damage and suffering the people of El Salvador have gone through, they still smile. The people there are beyond amazing; they are very hospitable and welcomed everyone with open arms. They are glad and eager to share their story and experiences. They are letting their voices be heard. I see hope in the people. The youth of the country can make a different, it may sound cliché, but it’s true. As a Vincentian in Action, I come back home with a new perspective. I come back with lots of knowledge and stories to share with others. I will remain in solidarity with the people in El Salvador.
A part of me stayed in El Salvador. I had an incredible and unforgettable experience there and I will return – I promise.
By: Laura E. Mena
(If you are interested in participating or learning more about service immersion trips, please email Joyana Jacoby at email@example.com.)