Mission to El Salvador: Learning and Lending a Hand

Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett recently led a local delegation to the Department (State) of Morazán, El Salvador, meeting with government officials and signing a “Sister City” agreement under the guidelines of Sister Cities International.

During the Montgomery “Sister City” delegation’s visit to Morazán province in El Salvador, County Executive Ike Leggett joins Morazán governor Miguel Ventura (at left in photo), former Congresswoman Connie Morella and County Councilmember George Leventhal (at right) in lighting candles at the village of El Mozote, where 1,200 unarmed men, women, and children were massacred by an elite U.S.-trained Salvadoran army unit in 1981

The delegation of about 70 individuals, all of whom paid all their own expenses, met with people from the local communities, visited schools, organizations, and historic places, and engaged in community projects. The mission was designed to foster cooperation between the two jurisdictions on a people-to-people basis and to support ongoing work by Salvadorans living in the County to assist development projects in their home country.

“It is estimated that 50,000 Montgomery County residents hail from El Salvador,” noted Leggett. “This trip gave all who participated a unique perspective on the situation in their homeland. It opens up opportunities for Montgomery County residents to collaborate with the residents of Morazán -- to learn and to lend a hand.”

Members of the delegation were: Leggett and his wife, Catherine; former U.S. Congresswoman Connie Morella; Montgomery County Delegate Ana Sol Gutierrez; County Councilmember George Leventhal; Public Information Director Patrick Lacefield; Silver Spring Regional Services Director Reemberto Rodriguez; Assistant Chief Administrative Officer Kathleen Boucher; Office of Community Partnerships Director Bruce Adams; County Latino Liaison Karla Silvestre; and Recreation Department Director Gabe Albornoz.

In addition to the County representatives, 11 individuals represented Montgomery County’s Habitat for Humanity. They helped build a home for an impoverished family in the town of Jocoro, the first of 38 planned in Morazán by the group. Montgomery “MoverMoms” -- a group of mothers and their children, ages 9 to 17 -- spent the week performing community service at a school and a Centro Materno in the town of Perquin. Members of two of the Salvadoran hometown associations traveled with the group to support their communities -- the Guatajiagua Association, which purchased land to build a training center in Guatajiagua, and the Joateca Association, which has helped to build a multi-purpose community center in Joateca.

 The delegation with Montgomery Habitat for Humanity volunteers, outside Joateca, Morazán.

To learn more about the trip and see many more photos, visit http://montgomerycountymd.gov and click on the El Salvadoran icon in the list at the center of the page.

CATEGORIES: County Executive , County Council
POSTED AT: Friday, August 12, 2011 | 7:00:00 AM |
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