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November 11, 2008



Dear Rosa,

I'm curious. What role did your Govt. play during the civil war in El Savador? Also, have you noticed how safe you are in the county that provided you refuge?
Amazing. Just remember, Democrates and Repulicans are two wings attached to the same bird of prey.

Holly Maloney

I was so moved by Rosa's essay - the stark reality of what the people of El Salvador, and other places around the world, have endured because of greed never ceases to startle me.
The power we have as people here in the US can be an awesome force for change - if we choose to open our eyes to see what oppression really looks like. I choose to work harder at knowing what is happening in and through our government and to examine what changes need to be made in my life to step up to the plate to make a difference. Every small action has an unknown ripple affect and as Mother Theresa has said "We can do no great things, only small things with great love".
Thanks for sharing this article Meghan.

Meghan Maloney

Dear Val,
While I do not wish to speak for Rosa Anaya, I am wondering what you mean by your second question, "Also, have you noticed how safe you are in the county that provided you refuge?"

Are you referring to the United States?
If this is the case, I would challenge you to think about if we are a place of refuge? While I do no know Rosa's specific case, I know and love many Salvadorans that live in the United States in search of refuge, however what they live is constant fear and danger. For a lot of refuges (while almost never recognized by the US government as such) living in the monster is not escaping it, but just experiencing it in a different light. The monster is presente in every aspect of your life: you are not able to pick your children up from school, you are not able to go to the hospital when the gash you got at work won't stop bleeding because you do not have the right papers, and you are a constant victim to hate crimes that you do not even consider reporting because you just had a child in the US and if you are discovered you will never see his or her precious face again. You live in fear of being deported from the depths of the monster back to the rubble still flaming from the bombs the monster has dropped on your people.

Rosa Anaya

Hi there, I am Rosa Anaya, thanks for posting this on the web, I would like to answer the questions by resending something that I wrote couple of years ago in response of one of my sanctuary mothers thoughts. Only to clarify, I live and work for human rights in my country, I only stayed in the US for around 9 months, it gave my family the opportunity to survive. Yes I know of the bird two wings, the roll of salvadorean gov was of a dog who did as told, but solidarity of the people that did not choose to ignore realty of there gov. action in my country, allowed things to have a small change, any ways this would be a long discussion.

Here is my answer the first part is Elizabeth's thoughts, second port is my answer:
Parenting In Sanctuary

During the death squad activities in El Salvador and Guatemaala of the 80’s and the early 90’s many community activists found themselves in the position of being asked to provide a safe, “sanctuary” home for people who were being threatened, tortured and hunted by the death squads. In West Marin there existed an alternative community of families that had students in an alternative classroom. It was in my involvement in the open classroom that resulted in my being asked to become involved in the sanctuary movement. I was asked to provide a safe place for a little boy, whose father had been assassinated for his work founding a human rights office in San Salvador in very dangerous times. Herbert Anaya had tired of hearing the stories of the “disappeared” speaking to mothers, wives, fathers whose children, husbands, cousins, parents had “disappeared”. Herbert began going to the shallow graves found on the sides of roads, behind houses, next to ditches and document, photographing the fallen. In his notebook, he provided a record of the missing, so that family members, loved ones could answer their grief. He provided a record of atrocity so that the crimes against his people, his neighbors, his family would not be ignored.
For this work he was murdered

The death squads were trained, funded and facilitated by the Reagan administration at the School of the Americas. One morning Herbert went out to start his car to take his children to school. The children heard shots. They ran out the door to watch their father bleed to death on the ground next to his car. The children ran back through their house and out the back door. They were taken, traumatized and in shock, to school. From school they were brought up north. The Families who gathered to host them were unprepared for what was to become a learning experience, an honor and some of the most challenging times of our lives. I cannot speak of the experience for my children by birth and in sanctuary, but for me, my life was enriched, altered and shaped differently than it would have been had I not seen and heard first hand through the children about the horror that was inflicted on the people of El Salvador.

At first for me it was Rafa, a tiny boy who threw himself out of bed in terror in the night. A little boy who threw himself on the floor of the car when a car drove up behind us in the dark. A little boy who crawled below the windows after sunset, out of fear of being shot through a window. A little boy who rocked, nightly on the floor of the bedroom. A little boy who did not understand why the California rain did not warm him like the rain of El Salvador.

We realized the importance of having all the children together on weekends. They often came to my home, then in Sebastopol. At the time I was liasonne to UNPO for the Lakota, Dakota, Nakota (Souix Nation). The children were reassured by the many natives who were in and out of the home. They understood the meaning of their Mayan heritage and found comfort in the ceremonies. They would sleep together in one big lump. If one had a bad dream, they would come into my bed, within a short time, I had a circular lump of five children, reassured by each others’ presence. Rosa, Gloria, Neto, Rafa and Edith lived with us and the wonderful sanctuary families of Marin between 1988 and 1994. My three children grew up thinking everyone had sisters and brothers in El Salvador that immigration forced to go home, who returned in the middle of the night, often, stayed for months, sometimes years, with new injuries and continued trauma, denied by the government that funded, armed and trained the torturers.

I continue to love them and am honored to know their truth and be part of a ” “safe-holding” community in a very dangerous world. They are adults now in spite of the efforts of the death squads. Rosa is an activist, Gloria, a Labor attorney, Rafa, also an attorney. Edith graduated from medical school in Cuba last month. Her picture was on the front page of the paper in El Salvador and in Cuba. Neto works hard, is a wonderful uncle to Rosas two children and works for their mother Mirna, who is now a Supreme Court Justice in El Salvador. They remain committed to the rebuilding of El Salvador and exposing U.S crimes against their people.

Elizabeth Stinson

There is something about sanctuary that I will never understand, that I can’t actually explain, because I only now realized after reading what you send us, I will start by the end… “Sanctuary” does not mean a “safe place to be”, what it means to be in sanctuary is to have people like you do what humanity should be doing … I am sure that there are many people from my country that left under worst circumstances then we did, we were very lucky to have my mother still a live and were able too burry my father, I know that there are many others in “safe places” that even live in the San Geronimo Valley but have never experience the love that we had from actually being in sanctuary, I learned of hate, of heroic acts, of struggle, martyrdom and admiration from my people, but I met real love from those like you that took us in to sanctuary, people that were not able to look away knowing that we needed help, any of the families that took us in to there houses like there own children, shared with us your most precious treasure that was your family, fed us not only delicious food but love, made us recuperate the trust for humans, let us know that it was not normal that people killed people, torture people, disappeared people, yes we went through a lot of very difficult moments, but at the same time we had something that many people will never have in all of there life’s, we know of looking at peoples eyes and being able to clearly see straight in to there souls, any one of the families that took us in to sanctuary could have said no, any one of those families could have continued there lives like nothing was happening in my country, any one of those families could have ignored us completely, but didn’t, I owe the Lakota people a great treasure, and that is to have guided me back to mother earth womb, to remember her hearts beat through people like you, to remember that we humans are not the only living thing here and that we are not the only living things that suffer, there is something that I cant explain but is there, something that I can almost touch, something that will be with me until my last day on earth, something that can not be taken away from me no matter what happens with my body or the circumstances that my brain has to go through … “Sanctuary” does not mean a “safe place to be”, what it means to be in sanctuary is to have people like you do what you did for my family and for my people…

Rosa Anaya
Septiembre 2006

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