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What Does Gratitude Look Like?




Dearest Friends,


Recently in a regional workshop of community leadership we asked our leaders what their principal concerns for our communities were. The long list of issues cited in the workshop included the high cost of living, passive and sedentary youth, lack of interest in education, parenting, forced immigration (due to lack of opportunity and fear of arbitrary arrests by police and military), health care, mental health and the proliferation of the culture of poverty.


Of course many of these issues have long plagued El Salvador, while others were exacerbated by the “perfect storm” of the COVID period followed by the suspension of civil liberties, which has grown from an initial 30 day emergency decree to now 19 months. While we can debate the government's handling of crime, other fundamental quality of life issues are being superficially addressed or completely ignored.


Here at the Tamarindo, we continue to address these critical problems everyday. First and foremost we believe that all solutions are found in community ‘in the breaking of the bread’. The nurturing of community life through love, education, personal responsibility and service is at the core of all our programming and our protagonism as we look with hope to the future.


One of the topics discussed which particularly concerns us is the increased isolation of youth which has created a compromised mental and physical health environment which has led to an increase in violence, substance abuse, apathy and as reported yesterday in a local newspaper, suicide.


With that in mind this month at Tamarindo Garden we have initiated a regional indoor soccer tournament, which really has become a family festival. The weekly event which will last until December, provides families, moms, dads, adolescents and children of all ages recreation through sport, music and food. Our principal goals are to create a positive community space, defeat fear, apathy and isolation, get families out of their houses and get kids moving.


The tournament has also created an opportunity for four new community concessions to provide food and refreshments for our families to enjoy. This new business opportunity also serves as a teaching platform for new entrepreneurs to learn business from the ground up by developing products through research and market analysis, managing credit, marketing and advertising and of course sales. So far we seem to be accomplishing our goals, families are coming out, people are being active in a healthy environment while delighting on really fun and delicious food, and our new micro businesses are making profit.


This month we also began an intensive parenting workshop for parents led by parents.This intentional parental space will provide parents an opportunity to address the challenges and fears of raising children, most as single parents in a changing rural El Salvador. Who better to help parents than other parents.


We also want to thank our three summer interns, Kelley Rood, Blanca Hitchcock and Ian St. John for their generous service to our community. All worked to inspire creativity and expression in our community through dance, visual art and poetry.We hope that their witness here will inspire other volunteers to come and do the same. May God bless them as they continue their studies and careers back at Notre Dame and in California.


Lastly we also thank you for supporting the Tamarindo Community which continues to grow in love, through faith, education and grace.


God Bless.


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