Violence is one of many challenges that need to be addressed in El Salvador. During the past years, since the Peace Accords signed in 1992, many interventions have been made. Unfortunately, the violence situation has not improved and it is getting more complex every day. It is important to understand that violence in my country is not solely done by gangs. There has been recent cases were public authorities such as the police and military are violating human rights in vulnerable communities.
Nowadays there are many people living not just under direct violence but also cultural and structural violence. This reflects on high stigmatization levels against youth, machism and social exclusion. That is why through the AFSC El Salvador Program, we intend to support peacebuilding efforts coming from key actors, such as youth, civil society organizations and the public sector. AFSC in El Salvador focuses on strengthening capacities and building a more articulated network for national and regional peacebuilding strategies.
Since June 2015, I have had the opportunity to be part of AFSC working for El Salvador Program. It truly has been a great learning experience, a very fulfilling one. Being part of the AFSC in El Salvador Program has given me the opportunity to work in peacebuilding efforts and migration topics. As an organization, we participate on dialogue spaces with civil society and provide support on planning strategies, advocacy and methodological tools. Our main topics at these spaces are forced displacement and violence. I have also had the opportunity to reach out to youth, such as promoting a dialogue space to implement nonviolent outreach activities and constantly analyze and learn about peacebuilding.
Through my learning process with AFSC, I noticed that it is crucial to invest more in the healing and dialogue processes. It is important for everyone to understand that El Salvador is living a crucial moment and needs to open to dialogue spaces and finding common ground to walk towards peace.
For me it is important to prove that creative methods to address social problems, are an effective tool to build human development. Now more than ever, I strongly believe that art can be a tool to help people understand themselves and build a more resilient community environment, and is refreshing to see that AFSC is betting for interdisciplinary and innovative proposals. The AFSC methodology of building peace networks and using art as a peacebuilding tool, has help our youth and partners to enhance their understanding of self-awareness, cultural context, recognition and respect for diversity, as well as a strong commitment to personal and social transformation.
Personally one of my favorite lessons during this year has been the power that love can transform people and communities. Before starting at AFSC I remember that in my previous jobs I always felt that something was missing. Once I started being part of the AFSC family I have had the opportunity to learn so much from different people of different regions and find people that really love their jobs even when is a high hill road. Their energy, their experience and their selflessness is truly amazing. Each day I have learned something new and I am so grateful to be part of this family.