Pilgrimage: InterVarsity + Root Causes Delegation

“Pilgrimage is about reconnection with each other, with our ancestors, with mystery and the depth of life. It is not an escape like tourism but a returning to the center of pivotal events that marked us, embedded in the land itself. The postcolonial pilgrim’s journey seeks restoration towards a regained wholeness by a re-centering, re-entering and recovery of history; it is a rediscovery that we are part of a living and vital collective memory. We remember in order to heal, to recover memory, to decolonize ourselves, to restore our deeper souls. Pilgrimage is a collective experience. We journey together, experiencing together more than we could alone.”  (Joanne Doi, MM.)

-Sarah Lee


Barefoot in San Salvador: The Soccer War




futbol-in-progressoI just had a few spare moments in San Salvador, El Salvador and at the airport I was watching some teams playing soccer on the television. I remembered something I read about regarding what was dubbed the “Soccer War” between El Salvador and Honduras. Yes, an actual war with guns, bullets and bleeding dying bodies. Surprised? Right, so was I when I found out about it.

But its okay to be surprised, because the image of futbol (soccer) worldwide is that its a force for bringing together the world in a tournament every four years that fosters a healthy competitive spirit. Its that perfect representative of globalization. It makes us all feel good and channels our positive spirit of nationalism and patriotism into a constructive form of celebration, and loss. Yet, the current crisis with FIFA along with the horrible working conditions found in Qatar speak to the dirty dark side of the international sporting event.

In fact, in 1969 Central America eruptted into war between Honduras and El Salvador during a World Cup qualifying match between the two countries. I first came across this while reading Eduardo Galeano’s “Soccer in Sun and Shadow” which is a brilliant piece of prose and collection of soccer facts. Galeano sums up the war with the following sentence “ [t]the lords of land and war did not lose a drop of blood, while two barefoot peoples avenged their identical misfortunes by killing each other with abandon.”

Here’s the longer excerpt from that chapter on the Soccer War:

“…Honduras and El Salvador, two small and very poor Central American countries that for more than a century had been accumulating reasons to distrust one another. Each and always served as the magical explanation for the other’s problems. Hondurans have no work? Because Salvadorans come and take their jobs. Salvadorans are hungry? Because Hondurans mistreat them. both countries believed their neighbor was the enemy, and the relentless military dictatorships of each did all they could to perpetuate the error.

This war was called the Soccer War because the sparks that set off the conflagration were struck in the stadiums of Tegucigalpa and San Salvador. The trouble began during the qualifying rounds for the 1970 World Cup. There were tussles, a few injuries, several deaths. A week later, the two countries broke off relations. Honduras expelled a hundred thousand Salvadoran peasants who had always worked in that country plantings and harvests; Salvadoran tanks crossed the border.

The war lasted a week and killed four thousand people. The two governments, dictatorships forged at a US factory called the School of the Americas, fanned the fires of mutual hatred. In Tegucigalpa the slogan was ‘Honduran, don’t sit still. grab a stick and a Salvadoran kill.’ In San Salvador: ‘Teach those barbarians a lesson.’”

We have to ask questions after reading this passage. Like, why two countries would go to war in the first place? If you know nothing about Central America, you still could get to the root causes of war here by asking more questions.

Even Barefoot Hungry Folks Ask Questions

Just ask yourself some more questions from the excerpt above, like: Why were there hundred thousand (or more) Salvadorans in Honduras? Why were American trained dictators, who we could assume had close ties to the United States, go to war with one another? Why do Hondurans have no work but these thousands of Salvadorans do, and furthermore, why do Salvadorans have to work in Honduras and not in El Salvador? Where was the United States in this whole situation? Why are these two countries so poor, as described by Galeano as “two barefoot peoples”? Finally, why do these countries have “identical misfortunes”, why are they so similar yet fighting, and what are their identical misfortunes?

You have to ask yourself these questions to get to the heart of the war and what it was about. In the same way, I have to ask questions to get to the root causes of migration. The immediate answer one has to the causes of the Soccer War are simplistic, and sensational. To frame the war as being started simply because of the outcome of a world cup qualifying match is quite simplistic and sensational- countries do not go to war over that, no matter how passionate they are about a sport. To say that the root causes of migration are because of gang violence, Narco-trafficking, and a lack of jobs, is just as simplistic (and sensational), yet thats what we are told in the North American press as being the causes of migration from Central America to the United States.

One of the most striking things about my time here is that people ask questions. They don’t preach, but rather they make statements and leave the conversations as a open ended questions. This has been most frustrating for me because I haven’t gotten the answers I wanted to get to. But that is my problem. Its an American perspective to break things down into digestible simplistic rational answers. When I don’t get there, I feel very frustrated. But the thing is why do I expect to get to the an answer that compresses five hundred years of historical and social and cultural developments into a lollipop wrapper response to my question?

Read more about my Central America adventure here, and I even have a mixtape for the trip here. Also, you have to read Geleano’s “Soccer in Sun and Shadow” because its just such a beautifully written and well researched book on the most wonderful game played by the majority of the world, read more/get it here.

Picture is courtesy of Deborah Lee, taken at a technical high school in Progresso, Honduras.

-Affad Shaikh

At what point?

Sarah Lee

At what point do governments (made up of human beings) extract billions from their own country’s social security at the cost of its own people who now cannot afford basic medicine/healthcare? http://bit.ly/1JN3Mp4 http://lat.ms/1OLhatf

At what point do multi-national corporations (made up of human beings) extract natural resources from other countries, stripping land, thus livelihood, from people who’ve lived there for generations? http://bit.ly/1MEdL1B http://bit.ly/1TUfKD3 http://bit.ly/1fqau7p

Group Photo for Sarah

At what point does ICE (made up of human beings) extract, detain, and deport migrants, making profit out of their bodies yet say they cannot live in this country? http://huff.to/1IpgJzp http://bit.ly/1hqlt2s

Perhaps when we make invisible another people group, creating distance between our brothers and sisters, our conscience are appeased for the violence we inflict. When we make invisible another people group, it becomes easier to dehumanize the other to secure my profit, my security, my power.

But there are those who say NO to invisibility. ‪#‎RootCausesDel‬ got to witness the fortitude of Honduran and Guatemalan mothers who’ve experienced deep loss, but choose to stay visible through creative organizing. At some point, we must recognize how the margins are becoming the center–making visible the corruption in our own countries and leading the way for what active hope looks like. ‪#‎IM4HumanIntegrity

-Sarah Lee

Lament- A poem by Tonya Barnette

Lament…for those who live perched above the dump, constantly watched by venues of circling vultures

People who had to leave their rural communities came to the city in search of work. These are houses built on the ravines at the garbage dump where they often find themselves living when they can't find work here either.
People who had to leave their rural communities came to the city in search of work. These are houses built on the ravines at the garbage dump where they often find themselves living when they can’t find work here either.

To the vultures, they are just food;
their deaths and their lives, fodder for the circling birds of prey.

From above they look like one mass.
Even from the churches crowning the crests,
they are only a mass, a ceremony, a ritual.
“Only wait,” they say.
“In heaven you will rise up,” they say.

But to Ana who leaves the crest and climbs down,
no mass-no mas-no more.
Ah, she says, I see you!
You are a person…and another;
a baby boy and a blooming girl and a dying grandmother.

So many, so many, so many
but not a mass.
One and one and one and one,
living in shacks that cling to the ravine walls;
smelling the rotting excess just below.

Yet, kissed by mothers and by the light;
seen by Creator; recognized by I AM.

O, my God, she cries out, I have seen your children suffering;
I cannot forget.
No longer am I one perched above, ignorant and innocent.
I am wailing; I am angry…
I am guilty.

“When mommy or daddy leave for the United States the dream of the youth is to go also. Not just to go be with mommy and daddy but to go to school and get the dream too.”

How often have people been deported more than once?

” Over 50% try to go back to the migrant route. Sometimes people try 5 times in a year.”

“One day with out a person trying to migrate is like a day of not eating. There is always someone going.”image

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