Peacebuilding en las Americas (PLA), an initiative of Friends Peace Teams, is undergoing a transition as it seeks a new Initiative Coordinator. PLA partners with local community groups to bring the Alternatives to Violence Program (AVP) and Trauma Healing programs to Latin America, where communities suffer from the violence of civil wars, gangs, crime, political instability, injustice and poverty. PLA works with communities in Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Colombia — and their programs and work are growing.
Val Liveoak, the current Initiative Coordinator, has volunteered her service since PLA began. Under her guidance, PLA has grown tremendously. Now Val wishes to retire from the position. Amy Rymer of PLA writes:
“As we look to the future, PLA hopes to hire a paid Initiative Coordinator…We expect in-country program expenses to total $40,000 for the Nov. 2015-Oct. 2016 budget. So far, we have received $12,750 for program work. If we are to hire an Initiative Coordinator, we need to raise an additional $21,000 to cover wages and expenses.”
Cece Yocum, one of our SEYM representatives to Friends Peace Teams, wants to get the word out about PLA’s work and their need to raise funds for a new coordinator. She has volunteered with FPT for 20 years and has worked with PLA for 15 years, serving as the Clerk of the Initiative Working Group for the last five. She has been to Colombia three times to train AVP facilitators, and to Guatemala for the international AVP conference in 2011, where FPT teams from Africa, Asia/West Pacific, and PLA shared their experiences. She has seen firsthand the need for AVP and Trauma Healing in the region, particularly among the youth, as well as the power of PLA’s transforming work. She notes that PLA is working in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, which has been labeled the ‘world’s most dangerous city.’ She writes:
“What keeps me going as a volunteer with PLA is the feedback from participants especially in the AVP Trauma Resiliency workshops where I have been most involved. Here are a few quotes from participants that spur me to continue volunteering with PLA and hoping it will grow:
“I look at the losses I’ve had in a different way. I’ve been writing a letter to God and found that trauma can be overcome. I always hoped for healing and wellness in my life. There is life and hope.”
“I learned it was important to identify or explain that which I lost. To feel is to let the tension go. When we do that we can turn the page a little faster (in the healing process).”
“It seems I was lost before and I have found myself again.”
Cece urges all SEYM Friends, Meetings, and Worship Groups to watch this video, then give what they can to support this vital Quaker witness:
- Letter from PLA about their transition (pdf) >
- Visit the PLA website >
- Friends Peace Teams website >
Donate to Peacebuilding en las Americas:
Online: Click the DONATE button on the FPT website at www.friendspeaceteams.org. On the PayPal page, type ‘PLA’ into the blank space titled ‘Purpose.’
By mail: Write a check, made payable to Friends Peace Teams, with ‘PLA’ written in the memo line.