Honoring the disappeared in El Salvador, a turning point we are hoping to be a part of.

On March 29th, 2011 the Salvadoran government is planning several days of events to honor the children that were disappeared during the country’s 13 year long Civil war. These events include concerts as well as breakfast with the president of El Salvador, Mauricio Funes and his wife. Myself and six other adopted Salvadoran/Americans are hoping to attend these events. This is an important turning point in the history of El Salvador and a huge opportunity for our voices to be heard. With some help we can return to the country which, until now, denied our existence and begin to effect meaningful change.

Day of the disappeared

During the civil war in El Salvador many children were separated from their families. Some were forcibly taken by the military while others where lost in the chaos of war. After being taken from their families the children were then put up for adoption and sold to unknowing parents. They were adopted in El Salvador and to the rest of the world. Now adults, many of us are trying to piece together what happened during the war and how to reconcile the events of the past.

Now, for the first time, the government is taking steps to recognize and promote awareness of what happened . The other week I received word from Pro-Busqueda, an organization dedicated to reuniting the family’s of the disappeared, the Salvadoran government is planning a number of events around the day of the disappeared.

On March 11, 2005, the Human Rights Court ruled in the case of Serrano Cruz Sisters v. El Salvador, initiated by the girls disappearance of Ernestina and Erlinda Serrano Cruz, the first 7 years of age and the second 3 years old, which occurred in June 1982, in Chalatenango.

At sentencing, the Court established, as a remedy, the obligation of the Salvadoran State to designate a day dedicated to children who disappeared during the internal armed conflict in order to sensitize society on the need for Salvadorans working together to find the best solutions that lead to the truth about the whereabouts of the children.

On January 5, 2007, the Legislature declared March 29 of each year, “Day dedicated to missing children during the armed conflict.”

Since then, or even before-the commemoration activities around that date have been driven solely by the victims themselves and by the Association for the search, while mostly state institutions had remained aloof from them.

However, this will not be anymore. When the January 16, 2010, as part of the celebration of the eighteenth anniversary of the signing of the Peace Accords, President of the Republic, my dear husband, apologized to the child victims of conflict, took the decision to take, as appropriate, the responsibility to mark the Day of missing children in the spirit that established the Court, ie, as a remedy for victims whose end, to promote national awareness children victims of disappearance and to promote joint efforts of all sectors to find them and give them back their rights have been violated.

Having our voices be heard

My self and a number of other Salvadoran/American adoptees are planing a trip to El Salvador in March. We feel this is a big step for the Salvadoran government and could be a turning point for the country. Our goal is simple: to be heard.

During wars, when someone is disappeared they are rarely heard from ever again. Most vanish without a trace. With these events we are being given a chance to connect with other disappeared children in a moment of solidarity. One of the events planned during that time is a breakfast with the president of El Salvador and his wife. While we aren’t exactly sure what form this will take it is an opportunity for us to speak directly with people who are actively trying to address everything that happened during our awful war.

The challenge

As we all know, travel can be expensive and some of us are not in a position financially to make this trip. I would hate to think that the only reason we could not participate in this historic event was money. I know times are though but I feel strongly that this is something we can get help with.

Since we are going to be staying with family and friends the only real expense is going to be airfare. To get us all there I estimate that it will cost about $5,000. That’s a lot for the six of us, but there might be people out there willing to help us.

I am however in somewhat of a difficult position. In the fall I asked friends and family to help finance a documentary film I wanted to create. 170 people generously gave to the project and made it a reality. So less than six months later can I really turn to them for financial help again? For me, the answer is no.

Since raising money is not an option I am thinking of other ways to get the trip sponsored. I think there could be a few different ways of doing this but this is what I have come up with so far.

Sponsoring the trip

This trip is going to be a very meaningful and emotional trip for all of us. I know that we will want to remember this trip for a long time. I would love for my fellow adoptees to have a way to record their thoughts or experience. Either for this blog or for themselves. I was thinking of looking into borrowing video or photographic cameras for the trip so they could record everything that happened. Then I realized this might be an opportunity for sponsorship.

Perhaps a company/store/website that sells or rents video/still cameras would be interested in sponsoring the trip. I know companies give sample products out all the time, so how about a real world test? We could use your equipment while on the trip and give feedback about what it was like.

I’m not looking for a freebie, so I’m interested in finding a way to make this work for all involved. I would personally be willing to add a sponsorship link to your company on the site. I would also be willing to provide an honest review of the product or service.

I think this could be a good opportunity for a company, but then again that could just be my opinion. I’ve never tried something like this so I don’t know if anyone would be interested in this but it’s worth a shot. What’s the alternative? Not try, and miss out on a once in a lifetime event?

How you can help

Over the next month, I will be reaching out to different companies to talk about sponsoring the trip. If you have connections to any organization or business that might be interested in sponsoring us, please, please contact me. There is only about a month before we have to leave (March 25th) so time is of the essence.

I’m also open to other ideas/suggestions about ways to raise funds. If you have any ideas about how to raise the $5,000 for the trip I would love to hear those as well. Here are a few that I came up with but I don’t know how effective they would be.

– Airline sponsorship
– Donated air miles
– Some type of travel grant

Thank you so much for your support, it means so much to us.

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