Thursday, January 6, 2011

“We who have a voice, must be a voice for the voiceless.”

When you spend time in El Salvador it is impossible to ignore the images and stories about Archbiship Romero. He has been deemed a martyr for the poor people of the country and imortalized with annual celebrations, posters and movies. He believed that those who had a voice and the ability to speak out about injustices in the world should speak out and fight for those who could not be heard.

The quotation above is painted in the dining room of the house, and is visible to every volunteer as they eat their meals, mingle with fellow volutneers, and converse with the workers here. When I came to El Salvador a few days ago and read that quotation I interpretted it meant that El Salvadorans who had a voice should be the voice for El Salvadorans who were voiceless. I was wrong.

Having spent time at various work sites in Ilobosco and Las Delicias, travelling to the orhpanages, and driving around the country, the signs of poverty are everywhere and blarring. Shacks made out of scrap metal, inadequate waste disposal, lack of access to safe drinking water, and malnutrition are prevelant everywhere you look.

The most eye opening part of the day today was listening to Dean Brackley, a professor at the University of Central America, or the UCA, share his insights about El Salvador’s past and future. He shared that among the United Nations reports on country’s health and development around the world El Salvador ranks exactly in the middle. It was upsetting to think that half the world continues to live in conditions that are even more abysmal than this.

On the way back from out visit at the UCA and a day of working at Las Delicias are starting to think about Romero’s quote. I believe the main goal of the trip should be to return home and continue to be a voice for the voiceless. Not only those who do not have a voice here in El Salvador, but those that do not have a voice in America and around the world. This week has given me a greater sense of how lucky and blessed I am, but also a renrewed motivation to speak and fight for those less fortunate.

Courtney Wilhelm is a student at Illinois State University and a member of Alpha Gamma Delta Fraternity.

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