The Peacebuilding en las Américas (PLA) Peace Baskets Project (PAN PAV) is successfully underway in all five countries where PLA works: Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Colombia and Ecuador. The project was designed and proposed by national partners to address the multiple pandemics they are facing. Covid 19 is accompanied by what partners call a hunger-violence pandemic. Violence has increased not only in the domestic sphere but also in the public sphere as States implement increasingly militarized approaches to the public health crises. There is hunger for food, for peace, for hope. The Peace Baskets aims to fill these hungers, offering a light in the midst of many shadows.
Since the Coronavirus quarantine began in mid-March, national coordinators have been reaching out through phone calls to share positive messages of peace and nonviolent conflict resolution to neighbors, AVP facilitators and workshop participants. Scarce internet access rules out zoom conferencing. Together, they are devising creative ways to address the parallel crises of the health emergency, food shortages and family violence. They know their AVP skills and community strength is more important than ever now to respond to those in greatest need.
Since permission is granted to leave the house only in relation to food and essentials, the coordinators plan to frame their project for those families in need around food, which will be delivered as a peace basket to include food, disinfectant sanitizers and also messages of peace. Delivery of the basket will allow coordinating teams to determine any additional emergency needs of the family, to offer motivation, and to provide support contacts and emergency telephone numbers.
In Guatemala, youth 11-17 who have participated in AVP workshops are being forced daily to choose between buying an internet card ($1.50) for on-line school classes or buying food. Their recently unemployed parents have encouraged them to take informal jobs on the city streets washing car windows or carrying bags of groceries home for others; an average day of work earns them approximately $1.50. The Peace Baskets have eased the burden temporarily and brought them a new sense of connection and hope for a better future.