Before sharing the events of our final day in El Salvador, Maureen, mother of Tyler, wishes to share a few words.
In El Buen Pastor, Tyler’s name (Tay-lor) was mentioned so many times! Each time filled my heart with joy. The warm greeting by the children & community had me thinking Tyler would have walked this very road into the center of El Buen Pastor. As we strolled toward the guest house, Marta took my arm (Tyler stayed in her house in 1998) as she guided me towards the mural. The image of Grande, Romero & Tyler was freshly painted and was beautiful to behold. I reached up and touched Tyler’s image & was overcome with sweet emotion. After all this time, these people responded as if they personally knew Tyler. I thought for the youngest in the crowd Tyler was but a face on the wall and now they knew the face of Tyler’s mom.
We all thank her and support her for her strength and courage in making the decision to follow her son’s footsteps back to El Buen Pastor.
Well, this is it. Our last day in the beautiful country of El Salvador. It has been a week to always remember, full of people to never forget. Our final day began with a breakfast of scrambled eggs, toast, and refried beans. After that, we traveled to the Monument of Truth and Memory, and mourned the loss of tens of thousands of missing and dead Salvadorans listed on the wall there. We heard the story firsthand of Guadelupe Mejia, who has been working tirelessly for human rights ever since her husband’s name joined the innumerable amount of others engraved in the stone wall.
From there, we took an hour long drive to the beautiful black sand beaches of Playa del San Blas, and spent some time lounging, eating, and reflecting on the events of the past week. After some time, we traveled to COAR, or Community of Oscar Arnulfo Romero. This community, and the school which shares its name, provides shelter and education for children who have been orphaned, abandoned, or sexually abused by their parents. While the school is open to any children in the area, special housing is provided for the almost forty students who live there permanently. The school also provides professional counseling and psychologists if necessary. Upon leaving the school, we ended our day at Planes De Renderos, a nearby mountain, for pupusas at El Atico and breathtaking views of the city. Upon our return back to the hostel, we said our goodbyes to Damien, our wonderful translator and our voice throughout our days here, and began to pack for our long flight home in the morning.
From our first full day listening to Journalist Gene Palumbo over breakfast, to being welcomed as family to El Buen Pastor, to meeting with and learning the story of human rights advocate Guadelupe Mejia just this morning, the Salvadoran people have always opened up their homes and their hearts to us. Even in a country so full of sadness, poverty, and injustice, the Salvadorans have never given up hope. To this day, they still fight to right the wrongs levied against them during their Civil War. Like a flower blooming after a violent rainstorm, the Salvadoran people are able to bravely rise up in spite of the cards they have been dealt. Even after everything they have suffered, and all of the loved ones they have lost, Salvadorans such as Gene Palumbo, the organization of UCRES, El Buen Pastor, Mirna Perla, Guadelupe Mejia, and all of the people and groups of people we have met on this powerful trip have never given up. They are forever working to right the wrongs inflicted against them, to bring those responsible to justice, and to ensure a better nation for their posterity. And we will be right beside them.