Peacebuilding en Las Américas

Partners Energized by Peace Baskets (PAN PAV) Project!

by Monica Maher, Initiative Coordinator PLA

Peacebuilding en las Américas (PLA) partners are energized and filled with hope due to their Peace Baskets (PAN PAV) project which offers them the opportunity to address the multiple viruses their societies are facing, including the hunger virus and the domestic violence virus. The virtual appeal has gone out and been well received so far. Honduras will be the first country to begin implementation next week; like everyone in Honduras, our partner, Ondina Murillo, is only allowed only to go out two days a month as assigned by the government. El Salvador and Guatemala will begin implementation soon afterwards.

The Peace Baskets will be delivered to families in economically marginalized and high-conflict urban neighborhoods (Red Zones) and will include food, disinfectants, hygiene items, messages of peace and emergency contacts. Women, men and youth in many of these families have been trained in the Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP). Recipients of the baskets will be encouraged to pass on the peace to others through sharing food and messages of peace with their loved ones and neighbors. Colombia and Ecuador will be the next countries to begin this project; in Colombia, the focus will be migrant families and in Ecuador, indigenous families.

Under States of Exception and severe lockdowns, all partner countries are vulnerable to human rights violations. We have seen flagrant abuse of civil rights, including the use of tear gas and live bullets to disperse women and children seeking food (Honduras), assassinations of community leaders and their families (Colombia), arbitrary arrests and incarceration of informal sector workers (El Salvador) and police repression of the LGBT community (Ecuador). The regional situation is ripe for continuation of State abuse on multiple levels with little recourse for redress. Salomón Medina, National Coordinator in El Salvador, was held with 36 others in a State-sponsored detention center in San Salvador for 39 days upon return from Ecuador. He describes manipulation and threats by authorities as well as the non-violent collective actions taken to gain release; such iron-hand policies of the government have only increased.

Our partners extend deep gratitude to all for their moral, spiritual and financial support. Please continue to hold them in the light. Gracias!

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  • Reconstruction of Houses and Communities in Honduras

    PEACEBUILDING EN LAS AMÉRICAS — The year 2020 has surprised us with a series of unexpected challenges starting the year with the Covid-19 pandemic that continues to impact us. In addition to this, in our country Honduras, we were also hit by two catastrophes left by the passage of storms Eta and Iota at the beginning of November 2020. These phenomena brought floods due to the overflowing of rivers, landslides, destruction of bridges and roads, loss of houses and crops; some people saved their lives by climbing to the roofs of their house where they remained for two days suffering from thirst and hunger, until the possibility of being rescued occurred. 37,000 people were placed in shelters and others were located in the median of the highways in tents made with sticks, boards, sheets and plastics.

  • Power of Goodness Goes Global

    FRIENDLY BOOK COLLABORATIVE — Power of Goodness has gone global. These Power of Goodness events were two-hour Alternatives to Violence (AVP) mini-workshops organized around a theme and a story, using the powerful AVP session format: welcome, agenda preview, introductions, agreements, activity, game, reflection, and closing. For the activities we read a story, discussed questions, and practiced skills or sought experiential insights.

  • In-person AVP Advanced Domestic Violence Workshop in Ecuador

    PEACEBUILDING EN LAS AMÉRICAS — The AVP Advanced workshop on responding to domestic violence, developed by Shirley Way and NY AVP,  has been translated into Spanish by an Ecuadorian volunteer, Carolina Cajas, with Friend Charles Rand.  The workshop was co-facilitated for the first time on March 12 by Beatriz Villareal and Mónica Maher with 15 Kichwa women leaders of Jambi Mascari in Cotacachi, Ecuador.  The women loved it, and asked for sequential weekly meetings in order to put their learning into practice between sessions; the next in-person session will be held on March 19.

  • Planting Sustainable Peace: Food Sovereignty

    PEACEBUILDING EN LAS AMÉRICAS — Peacebuilding en las Américas (PLA) colleagues are moving from their very successful Peace Baskets Project and hurricane relief efforts to focus on Planting Sustainable Peace through promoting vegetable gardens and Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) workshops. This has already begun in Colombia, Ecuador and Guatemala. In Ecuador, the community garden of Andean lupine beans in the indigenous community of Cotacachi is ready for harvest. The Kichwa women leaders of Jambi Mascari chose the beans for their high-protein content, healing purple flower, and ability to withstand dry spells. Paradoxically, Ecuador has experienced unprecedented levels of rain fall which is delaying harvest. With a vision of diversifying their project, the leaders will provide fruit trees as well as gardening tools to 30 members of their organization for home gardens. They are also planning an agricultural fair for produce exchange with a neighboring community with a warmer climate.

  • Virtual AVP Workshops: Creating Community and Improving Health

    PEACEBUILDING EN LAS AMÉRICAS — AVP online continued to strengthen community nationally and transnationally. Facilitators from throughout the region began the seventh and eighth online Basic in Spanish, and finished three Advanced workshops on assertive communication and forgiveness. Two Central American teams simultaneously co-facilitated two Advanced workshops for 24 participants from eight countries: Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras and Panama. Participants stated the workshop was “an immense contribution” to their lives, affirming the online workshops have “helped their mental and spiritual health and also reduced levels of violence and stress.“

  • Peace Baskets and Hurricane Relief

    PEACEBUILDING EN LAS AMÉRICAS — In Central America, still reeling from Hurricanes Eta and Iota, the Caravan of an estimated 5,000 people from Honduras was stopped in Guatemala by brutal police repression; the desperation to migrate is driven by increasing poverty which now affects a shocking 70% of the Honduran population, with 45% living in extreme poverty. In the face of such challenges, our Peacebuilding en las Américas (PLA) partners continue with amazing stamina and dedication.  The Peace Basket Project and Hurricane relief efforts advance, community gardens expand and Alternatives to Violence (AVP) online workshops proliferate, creating ripples of resilience and hope from individuals to families to neighborhoods to transnational communities.

  • 2nd AVP Advanced Workshop Online in Latin America

    PEACEBUILDING EN LAS AMÉRICAS — Psychological and spiritual support is expanding through ever proliferating online AVP workshops.  Participants include Hurricane survivors, women and adolescents living in situations of domestic violence, and others suffering from the stress of confinement, unemployment, and militarization of civil society. With new workshops in January, national coordinators and colleagues have been involved in facilitating 10 Basic online workshops and 3 Advanced, with 170 Spanish-speaking participants from 15 countries: El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Ecuador, Colombia, Brasil, Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Nicaragua, Panama, Cuba, USA, Spain and Germany.  Participants who are AVP facilitators plan to replicate the workshops with others, including a new team of AVP virtual facilitators in Cali, Colombia.  The enthusiasm is contagious with demand soaring.  - Monica Maher, PLA Initiative Coordinator

  • Sowing Seeds of Peace in Colombia

    PEACEBUILDING EN LAS AMÉRICAS — With this fourth delivery of PAN/PAV Baskets, we close the first phase of this solidarity project and we open a new phase: SEEDS OF SUSTAINABLE PEACE. In this fourth phase, 25 families were benefited, among them some that have already started small gardens and who will enter the second phase as beneficiaries for entrepreneurship proposals.

  • Happy New Year from Peacebuilding en Las Américas

    PEACEBUILDING EN LAS AMÉRICAS — In 2020 we were able to enlarge and extend the work of Peacebuilding en las Americas (PLA), despite the restrictions for the COVID-19 pandemic. Our partners reached out to neighbors in need, Alternatives to Violence Project facilitators and participants, refugees, youth forced to work to provide basic essentials for their families instead of continuing in school, indigenous women’s groups, and inmates at a local prison with “Peace Baskets” containing food and hygiene products. 

  • Hurricanes Eta and Iota Affect Millions…

    PEACEBUILDING EN LAS AMÉRICAS — This holiday, Peacebuilding en las Américas' (PLA) representatives and partners in Honduras and Guatemala are not on vacation. They are facing a major humanitarian emergency caused by the massive destruction of Hurricanes Eta and Iota which affected more than six million people. This is in addition to challenges that the Covid, hunger, and domestic violence pandemics have already brought this year.

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