THE TAMARINDO COMMUNITY
During the 12-year Salvadoran civil war, the goal was always to create a new society that was rooted in truth, love, justice and peace. It is what Saint Oscar Romero and thousands of Salvadoran women and men died for. It is what St. Paul wrote about, “Putting off the old... and putting on the new.”
Since our inception, the Tamarindo Foundation has been dedicated to building that new society by helping our community members become “new” women and men. A new society cannot develop without generous people willing to look deeper into themselves and commit to their own change, development and personal transformation. That in turn, cannot happen without community.
Over the course of 27 years, we have worked hard to develop that community. We have contributed to breaking the chains of poverty and have created alternatives to forced migration by empowering our community members to cultivate life skills through discipline, love, service, leadership, education, culture, sports and wellness.
After the war, theatre became a powerful tool in the Tamarindo for facilitating community reflections on the events of the civil war and Salvadoran history.
Today, we continue to use “popular theatre” to educate and raise consciousness in our community about gender, political, social and religious themes of the times. We also offer drawing workshops throughout the year and have a visiting artist who comes annually to run an art camp focused on drawing, painting and other manual arts. The art camp extends into the local grade school where for one week a year, all Guarjila grade school students have access to art supplies and instruction.
As a part of our commitment to the arts, the Tamarindo community has attended cultural events, museums, concerts (from The Whalers to Beethoven), opera, symphony, theatre and ballet performances.
To understand the Tamarindo Foundation, one needs to understand the witness of the Catholic faith in El Salvador and Latin America. It was Pope John XXIII who called for the “windows of the church” to be opened at the II Vatican Council. It was that council that inspired Latin American bishops to discern within their own parishes and communities the profound questions of their time: Where is the church today? Why is there class hatred? Discrimination? Genocide? Poverty? Misery? War? Indiscriminate violence?
It was their very own statement later in Puebla, Mexico taking a “preferential option for the poor” that would make a profound change in El Salvador and all of Latin America — a change of course that would come with a great price: martyrdom.
Here in El Salvador, our legacy of Catholic martyrs, voices for those without voice, is extensive. Our list includes Saint Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero, Fr. Rutilio Grande S.J., the Jesuits of the Central American University and the North American Church Women — Maura Clarke M.M., Ita Ford M.M., Dorothy Kazel O.S.U. and lay Maryknoll missionary, Jeanne Donovan. This is the legacy of faith in which the Tamarindo was founded and continues to grow.
It is here in our Catholic faith in the crucified and resurrected One that the Tamarindo seeks to follow the journey of grace in addressing the critical issues of our day: youth violence and gangs, unemployment, poverty, family disintegration and forced migration.
The Tamarindo is led by a leadership team of homegrown women and men. All of our staff grew up in the Tamarindo and some go back 25 years to the founding of our community.
Our leadership is also dedicated to the growth and development of the town of Guarjila with many of our leaders having served in local government positions, including three Tamarindo community presidents and a number of city council members. Our leaders also support and have played roles in developing other community, civic, sports and cultural efforts.
In 2015, Tamarindo leadership created the Tamarindo Community Development Organization, a community initiative led by our Guarjila team. The organization is the licensed Salvadoran counterpart of the Tamarindo Foundation Inc. 501(c)(3).
A key component in creating alternatives to forced migration is improving the quality of life for the people of Guarjila. That can and will only be accomplished by the people of Guarjila themselves through service to one another.
The Tamarindo Foundation and all of our community members are dedicated to that service. From our earliest days searching and recovering the remains of our war dead to our efforts in reforesting the surrounding hills of Guarjila, at the heart of all Tamarindo efforts lies service to others. Generosity towards others is at our core, as each Tamarindo member is required to perform weekly community service.
Current service projects include tutoring, sports coaching, peer-mentoring, reforestation, construction/home repair, community clean-ups, programs for the elderly, visits to the sick and emergency financial support for families in need.