Dispatch #4: Young Worker’s Tour 2011
Having had some “down time” since the intensity of the young workers delegation to reflect on my experiences, I keep coming back to how inspirational our time in El Salvador was on a variety of levels. As a young worker myself, seeing the incredible work of a number of different youth and worker organizations across El Salvador was truly inspirational.
The National Secretary of the FMLN youth, a guerrilla resistance movement in El Salvador, who have successfully transitioned to a political party and elected their presidential candidate in the last election, shared with us the challenges the party faces but also the success they’ve had in involving youth in all levels of the party. We met with children of displaced FMLN rebels who, on their own, found the funding and resources to build and run a youth center in their remote rural community, and with urban youth in El Triunfo who have organized themselves and have enlisted the help of other youth to join them in community development projects.
We shared a meal with young ex-maquila (sweatshop) workers who told us of the abuse and injustice they faced in the factories and yet of their resolve to continue to fight for fair compensation. Members of a women’s organization proudly showed us their community gardens that they have used to feed their families and wider community despite challenging weather conditions. Inter-generational members of a rural health committee took us on a tour of their community to show the mapping they have done of health and sanitation challenges they face, as well as the gains they have made in the last year. All of these experiences were made possible by the inspirational staff at APSIES, one of CoDev’s Latin American Partners, who are supporting the groups to overcome the immense challenges they face.
Finally, I have been incredibly inspired by my peers on the delegation. They all left the comfort of their own communities and work to travel a great distance physically and culturally, many for the first time, yet despite this they all came with open hearts and minds, eager to learn from and share with everyone we met. Their insightful reflections at the end of our time in Honduras and El Salvador, and their ideas for action in their own lives and wider communities is truly inspirational and a reminder of the power of international solidarity.