A Weekend with the Program: from Salvador del Mundo to San Diego, March 30 & 31st, 2008

Romero's Anniversary, Salvador del Mundo

By: Victoria Cavanaugh

This past weekend was an especially good one for the Program. On Saturday, after classes in the morning and a nice run through Cafetelon, a park in Santa Tecla closeby to our scholarship house, I had the chance to join at least two thousand other people gathered to pay tribute to the great Salvadoran hero and martyr, Mons. Oscar Arnulfo Romero. Though the actual day he was killed was the 24th of March, his anniversary was celebrated on Saturday this year, making it more accessible to the numerous Salvadorans and foreigners alike who came from all over and all walks of life to demonstrate their deep respect for Romero.

We walked from Salvador del Mundo to the Centro as the sun was setting; the streets were filled with people, music, candles, song. For me it was especially nice, as I got to see, at once, so many of the people who have worked, both directly and indirectly, to make the dream of Nuestro Ahora possible. . .students and staff from the Casa, past professors, members of a wealth of organizations and other ngo's throughtout the country, current classmates, good friends. I thought back to 2005 when I was studying here for the first time and living in COAR, a time not too long ago in which I couldn't even have imagined Nuestro Ahora's existence, a time when I certainly saw the need, but had not yet imagined a response. . . .

So as I walked next to participants in the Program Saturday night, as we literally made our way across San Salvador, I was taken aback by the thought of how far we've come, and how grateful I am to all of you, on behalf of the students, for all you have done as supporters of Nuestro Ahora. Thank you.

When we reached the Centro of San Salvador, we enjoyed some classic pupusas before listening to the archbishop of San Pedro Selo, a longtime and dear friend of Romero, celebrate the vigil mass on the steps of the Cathedral. In his homily, he spoke of great leaders who have struggled for human rights, who have worked with a vision of non-violence, who have dedicated their lives to caring for the poor. . .Ghandi in India, Martin Luther King, Jr. in the States, and, of course, Romero, in Latin America. And, he urged people not to dwell in the errors of aggresors, but to persevere in searching for a way to care, authentically, for those at one's side and to forgive as Christ did on the cross, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing." He challenged people to respond to the suffering and hardships in El Salvador with faith and solidarity, believing in the potential for reconciliation and growth. (You can watch the video for an excerpt from the vigil homily.)

Sunday, after breakfast together, we rode the bus to the port city of La Libertad where Ms. Robinson, a friend and supporter of the Program, met us and took us to the Laughing Pelican, the guesthouse in Playa San Diego she opened with her husband a few years ago, when she moved to El Salvador from Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. We spent the day enjoying San Diego, walking the beach, swimming in the Pacific (and in the pool), taking a break from studies and talking about how we'd like to see the program develop as a group of new high school students from various orphanages around the country will join us in April in a new project of the Program, "El Caminito." We ate dinner, watched the sunset, and talked about life in Canada and Salvador, the similarities and the differences. A special thanks to Ms. Robinson and the staff at the Laughing Pelican for the generous invitation to San Diego.

We caught the last bus back from the Port, ready for another week of studies. . . .