A Cristosal workshop, held before COVID-19 closed public gatherings, to help community groups and local leaders consider the rights and needs of IDP families entering their community.
By Christie R. House
January 7, 2021 | ATLANTA
Although violence was a constant threat in the rural area of El Salvador where Tanaya’s* family lived, they weren’t personally threatened, so they chose to stay in the community they knew. Understanding how to navigate social systems to find services like health care was important to Tanaya because she cared for three family members who were developmentally disabled: her older brother, her older sister and her daughter.
But then relatives in her extended family were targeted and killed by a gang and Tanaya no longer felt she could keep her family safe. They had to flee before someone in her household became the next target.
At first, Tanaya wanted to migrate to the United States, where a second brother and another daughter lived, but she knew her family members were not likely to survive the journey. She was the only one in her household who could read and write. If they got separated for any reason, the consequences would be devastating. With new regulations put into place in the U.S. in the last few years, it was doubtful the family could even make it across the border to ask for asylum.
Tanaya found temporary quarters in another village and contacted the El Salvadoran Ombudsman for Human Rights. That office referred her to Cristosal, an agency that works throughout the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Nicaragua and Guatemala to support victims of violence, providing protection for people deported from the U.S. and for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) like Tanaya and her family.