US-El Salvador Cister Cities is happy to announce our two new El Salvador coordinators, Zulma Tobar and Victor Andaluz! Catie, who has been working in El Salvador for two years, will be transitioning into the US Coordinator position, making room for the new team in El Salvador.
We all are excited for having a full Salvadoran team in the history of Sister Cities. Zulma will be coordinating communities in the regions of CRIPDES Sur in La Libertad, PROGRESO in Suchitoto, and the RDM in Cinquera; while Victor will be in charge of coordinating communities in the regions of CRIPDES San Vicente and CCR in Chalatenango. You can read the biographies of Zulma and Victor below.
My name is Zulma Esmeralda Tobar Reynado. I was born in 1990, in Las Flores, Chalatenango, one of the most tumultuous areas during the El Salvador´s Civil War. I am the last of six daughters; I was raised by my single mother who struggled to support her daughters with no income and no formal education.
When I was one-year-old, my mother along with dozen other families, decided to re-populate the village of Cinquera, where the Salvadoran army had destroyed every home and building, and all the crops. My mother together with my sisters cultivated corn in order to survive. Despite economic hardship and no school (a high school did not exist in Cinquera until 2012), my mother encouraged my sisters to study and she worked double in the fields so they could do so, since she knew how important was for my sisters to continue their studies to overcome the necessities the family had.
In 2007, I applied to get a university scholarship through the ARDM, a program that the Chicago Sister Committee has supported for years. Being a scholarship recipient, I worked with the youth of Cinquera. We carried out workshops of National Reality, Life Planning, we also were very active to maintain the Historical Memory of the town; also I taught English in the school. All of that was part of our community work. At 23, I graduated from the University of El Salvador with a degree in English Language for Teaching. Three of my five sisters also graduated from the university thanks to the community scholarship program lead by the Reconstruction and Development Association and supported by many international efforts and solidarity. In 2011, I started working at the Center for Exchange and Solidarity (CIS, by its acronyms in Spanish) as a Spanish Teacher. Later on, in 2013 I began to translate for visiting delegations. And I became the Delegation Coordinator of CIS. My work as Delegation Coordinator has helped me deepen my understanding of solidarity. It also encouraged me to continue working with communities that are struggling to improve their lives.
Victor Manuel Andaluz Recinos
Born on December 16, 1988, Victor is from a small village called Los Amates in the municipality of San Juan Opico, Department of La Libertad, in the Southwest part of El Salvador, northwest of San Salvador. He comes from a large family and is the 11th of 12 siblings. He is the son of Maria Celia Recinos and José Andaluz, both Salvadoran, who married in 1970. Victor has always felt motivated to study, so much so that he started going to school when he was 3 and learned to read and write when he was 5.
He graduated from the University of El Salvador in December 2014 with a degree in English Language for Teaching. While at College, Victor worked for a private school teaching English to children from age 4 to 15, and then as the English School Coordinator at the Center for Exchange and Solidarity-CIS, working with volunteers from various countries where English is spoken. Because of Victor’s difficult childhood background he became very interested in social justice issues and working at CIS helped him get more involved in solidarity work.
After graduating, Victor happily became part of SHARE’s family in May 2015. As Grassroots Coordinator, he coordinated partnerships (sister relationships) between Salvadoran and U.S. counterparts. He visited the different regions and communities that have sistering relationships, coordinated with the grassroots community organizers of each of the four CRIPDES regions SHARE works with, and helped keep U.S. partners informed of what was happening in the regions they support. Victor also worked closely with the Delegations Coordinator and the Development Coordinator.
Victor married Claribel Ventura in July 2014 and they now have a 10-month-old baby, Santiago Alejandro. During his free time, Victor enjoys spending time with his family, watching good movies at home (he prefers horror movies), playing with his little son (make him laugh mostly), reading fiction in English, drawing pictures, dancing, listening to music, and eating pupusas.