CEIBA: (Construyendo Espacios Integrales para el Bienestar Ambiental), Constructing Integrated Spaces for Environmental Well-being
CEIBA was originally founded as Friends of Santa Maria November 9th 2009, the morning after Tropical Ida in which Beth received a call from Mercedes requesting food and water. By November 14th, Beth and others had raised $10,000 via a blog with a paypal donation, and had worked with 50 volunteers to bring relief on foot to isolated communities and clear roads, becoming Friends of Santiago Texacuangos, since relief efforts extended to the 30 communities in that municipality. When it became clear that more than needed was raised for immediate relief, Beth and Mercedes began to focus on social reconstruction, with an eventual goal of disaster prevention.
CEIBA started as a 6-person team made up of 5 Salvadorans and 1 North American. Of the 5 Salvadorans, 2 are from Santiago Texacuangos. CEIBA works in 3 communities primarily, Joya Grande (325 families), El Sauce (110 families), and Shaltipa (350 families), although we support other communities in emergency situations, such as Loma Linda and El Sauce. The municipality of Santiago Texacuangos is located 30 minutes driving distance (1.5 hours in bus) of San Salvador, and is a marginal peri-urban area whose economy depends on a mixture of agriculture and sweatshop wages, from nearby factories where many young women work.
Vision: Be a foundation that promotes sustainable community organization that
manages the natural resources, well being, and social development of Santiago
Mission: Give community members the tools to organize themselves in order to
generate: environmental consciousness, alternatives sources of income, food sovereignty, risk management, mental health, and gender equality.
Rafael Flores: Painter/ Entrepreneur/
Dany Portillo: Sociological Culturalist
Mercedes Monge: Social Worker
Jonathan Velasquez: Poet/Lawyer/Accountant
Beth Tellman: Coordinator/ Fundraising
Vladimir Jimenez: Organic Agronomist
CEIBA is non religious and non political and strives to build solidarity to bridge the divide between North and South, Left and Right, Evangelical and Catholic. CEIBA’s board of directors includes an assembly of over 20 people, including local community, leaders, volunteers, and students. This grassroots movement has worked with many other organizations, including the United Nations to provide food aid via the World Food Program, over $3,000 in donations from Catholic Relief Services, immersion trips with CRISPAZ, and coordinated at $10,000 project to build a hurricane shelter with USA Military Civil Affairs Unit. CEIBA began its process as a legal Salvadoran NGO in January 2011, expecting official status as a Foundation in early 2012.
Disaster Reconstruction Projects ($50,000) (fundraised for and executed by the CEIBA team and volunteers) from February 2010-December 2010 included:
- Community Organizing, which mostly works with Civil Protection (El Salvador’s FEMA) to form committees and plan for disaster prevention and response. This included construction of a $10,000 Hurricane Shelter donated by the US Military Civilian Unit (Joya Grande, El Sauce, Shaltipa)
- Organic Agriculture, with focuses on home-gardens and one community indigenous corn plot. (Joya Grande, El Sauce, Shaltipa)
- Social Cultural Animation, which mixes art, theatre, and psychology to turn youth from victims of disaster into agents of change (Joya Grande and La Cuchilla)
- Painting Therapy Academy (Joya Grande).
- Children’s Disaster Prevention in Joya Grande (launch of 1st Committee in El Borborllon Nov-Dec 2010) in conjunction with Anmutsipical
- Delegations from Brebeuf Jesuit Highschool, IN (with CRISPAZ) and University of Notre Dame
2011 Projects ($15,000)
- Youth Organizing for Violence Prevention in El Sauce and Joya Grande. This has included intercomunal soccer and softball tournaments, donations of women’s and men’s uniforms (Donate by The Futbol Project), and service projects for disaster mitigation (funded jointly with the Mennonite Church).
- Climate Adaptation and Organic Agriculture in Santa Maria with Elderly (laying the groundwork for an irrigation system and marketing to the Casa program).
- Participation in networks such as CIPJES (Intersector Coordination for Salvadoran Youth), JuxVIDA (Juventudes por La Vida) , and Mesa Municipal de Proteccion Civil Santiago Texacuangos (Regional Disaster Mitigation and Prevention Board) see our partners below for a description.
- Children’s Disaster Prevention in Joya Grande (launch of 2nd Committee in La Marmonera) with Anmutspical and NYU interns Fred Sanchez and Cindy Pineda.
- Disaster Relief ($3,000) provided logistical and technical support to community shelter and the local government. Organized volunteers to begin trauma therapy in affected shelters, supply shelters with missing items like toothbrushes, kotex, and diapers. Coordinated youth led trauma therapy in El Sauce, with CIPJES/PSJ.
- Delegations from Dallas, Texas, and St. Thomas Aquinas Church Indianapolis, IN.
2012 Project Prospects ($20,000?)
1. TEMASILI: Communication at a Distance: Emerging Technologies and Disaster Mitigation and Response: Using Cell Phones for Emergency Communication. This project is in collaboration with Sociologist Ryan Alaniz, the University of California Polytechnic, and the Institute for Community Recovery and Development. The pilot test has $5,000 from the Ron Anderson Technology and Social Cohesion Fellowship. Project planning began Aug 2011, the pilot is set to begin Jan 2012, and currently grant writing to fund a larger project ($100,000 from Munich Re Foundation Aug 2012).
2. Vozz: Youth Political and Democratic Participation in El Salvador’s Mayoral Elections. This project is a collaboration with Ashoka Fellow Kara Andrade, co-founder of the citizen journalism website HablaCentro. She did youth journalism and election coverage in Guatemala, and wants to expand the project and bring it to El Salvador with the help of Danielle Mackey and CEIBA. We are seeking $10,000 from the Seattle Foundation and Open Society Foundation. The project will train youth on new legal tools (youth law and policy), nuts and bolts of the election, and a weekend bootcamp in journalism training. Youth will plan local debates for mayoral candidate in their municipalities including a debate in Santiago Texacuangos. Project Dates: Jan-March 2012.
3. Climate Adaptation and Organic Agriculture in Santa Maria with Elderly. This project, coordinated with Mercedes Monge and volunteer Agronomist Jose Maria Gonzalez, with install an irrigation system, designed in 2011, in Jan 2012. Beth will work with the Casa Program’s community coordinator Quentin Orem to help Santa Maria farmers plan supply and inventory to match Casa’s weekly food demands. CEIBA has fundraised to purchase seeds and install the irrigation system ($1,500), and the Casa Program will provide transportation to bring vegetables to San Salvador.
4. Youth Run Computer Center, El Sauce. The youth group in El Sauce is fundraising to build a computer center, run by their groups as a way to make money for the group and make technology accessible for member of the community. Funds generated from the Center (via internet use, copies, etc) will pay for basic computer trainings, free or at low cost to the community. Projected Costs are $6,000, but CEIBA has already raised $1,000 and Depauw University committed to send 8 desktop computer March 2012, reducing project cost by $2,000.
5. 9th Poetry Festival “turno del ofendido” will send 3 international poets to Santiago Texacuangos will CEIBA will organize poetry readings in schools and public spaces for 3 days of the festival in May in conjunction with Fundacion Metafora.
6. Confirmed Delegations: Dallas, Tx, Jan 26-29
Possible Delegations: Brebeuf Jesuit with Crispaz (March), Dallas Jesuit (summer?), St. Thomas Aquinas Church (August?)
Our active local partners/alliances
CIPJES: Ceiba became part of a national network of youth groups and NGOs in October 2010, as an effort to connect local youth in Santiago Texacuangos to larger advocacy issues and get access to youth trainings. CIPJES, the Intersector Coordination of Youth in El Salvador, has been an important CEIBA partner. We have sent youth to CIPJES trainings in advocacy, sexual and reproductive health, organizing methodology, and most recently, art therapy. The art therapy program is funded by CIPJES and trained 2 youth in El Sauce to run an 8-week trauma therapy program, fully funded. CEIBA is also part of the CIPJES commission on human rights, and meets weekly to discuss legal issues affecting youth. This commission helped write the Salvadoran Youth Law, just passed November 2011.
JUXVIDA: Juventudes por la Vida, or Youth for Life, is a youth environmental network funded by the IUCN (International Union of Conservation Scientists). CEIBA joined in December 2010, and has supported events such as Earth Day for the local kindergarten in Santiago Texacuangos, a recycled art competition, and Reforesting Central American campaign.
CMPC: The Municipal Commission on Civil Protection, established by El Salvador’s Civil Protection law, is where institutions in Santiago Texacuangos come together to prevent disasters, manage aid in disasters, and manage reconstruction funds.
Anmutsipical: This socio-environmental collective in the neighboring municipality of Santo Tomas has executed several projects with CEIBA, and are faithful volunteers in many of our projects and events. Anmutspicial houses our delegations, and CEIBA volunteers free workshops for children in their environmental education program, casa verde.
Other Past Partners:
We have received funded or executed joint projects with these organizations:
CRS, Share Foundation, CRISPAZ, Organization of American States, Firefighters in Action from Spain, Casa de la Cultura Santiago Texacuangos, World Food Programme, Sacdel, Voices on the Border, and more