January 15, 2010
Contact MRovira@habitat.org  to find out how you can help.
Thirty years ago, Archbishop Oscar Romero was assassinated while defending the rights of the poor and the marginalized in El Salvador. Today, thousands of families still lack basic necessities such as housing, food, potable water, electricity, education and employment.
In 2010, Habitat for Humanity El Salvador will honor Oscar Romero during Lent—the 40 day period before the Easter holiday.
Romero taught us that "we are workers, not master builders." Workers reflect on what materials they have available. They build, based on the instructions of the master builder. And when they finish the job, they celebrate what they have achieved.
Who was Monseñor Oscar Romero?
Oscar Romero—known as Monseñor Romero—was a Salvadoran Catholic priest. As archbishop of San Salvador (1977-1980), he preached about social justice and publicly manifested his solidarity with the poor and with the victims of the political violence in El Salvador.
Precisely because of this message, Monseñor Romero was assassinated on March 24, 1980, while celebrating mass. His assassination was one of the catalysts for the ensuing civil war in El Salvador, which lasted until 1992 with the signing of the Peace Accords. Monseñor Romero continues to be synonymous with social justice in El Salvador and throughout Latin America and the world.
Strengthening the Getsemaní Community project
Gestemaní is a community of more than 130 families, located in the entrance of Ahuachapán. The majority of families have monthly incomes between US$100 and $250. Many adults work as housekeepers, security guards and market vendors, though several recently lost their jobs when a nearby factory closed. The community has a housing deficit of more than 50 percent; many families live in metal shacks or precarious bamboo-mud structures.
Nonetheless, the community is blessed with a strong, visionary leadership. Through sheer determination, they have completed major projects, such as electrification, land legalization and household potable water. Still, there is a very long road to travel. The community has many needs, and therefore many dreams, of how to improve their quality of life.
With Lent Build: 30 Houses with Romero, Habitat El Salvador is launching a three-year holistic project with the Getsemaní community. In addition to providing 30 housing solutions per year, this project includes the development and implementation of sustainable programs in youth education, community health, micro-entrepreneurship, community organization and partnership-building with national and international groups.
Building Hope church campaign
Building Hope is a five-year church relations campaign that Habitat El Salvador launched in 2005 with the aim of engaging churches in the fight to resolve the housing crisis in the country. Habitat has thus provided a way for churches to put their faith into action, whether through volunteer participation in builds and/or fundraising for house sponsorships.
Throughout the campaign, Habitat for Humanity El Salvador has increased its “triangles of faith” by connecting national churches with international churches, helping them to cultivate their partnerships both on and off the construction site.
How to participate
The event will last seven weeks—the six weeks of Lent and also Easter week—from February 17 through April 3, 2010. You can participate in a number of ways by:
- Reflecting on the cause of adequate housing and the legacy of Oscar Romero
- Praying on behalf of the partner families.
- Raising funds for the sponsorship of one house.
- Promoting the Lent Build at your local church or other group.
- Organizing a volunteer team to participate in a week of construction.
Please contact MRovira@habitat.org  for more information.