For the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, our ICS returned volunteers share their stories of some of the incredible women they met during their placements in Central America this Summer. They also took part in the UN #OrangeTheWorld - #DíaNaraja campaign to raise awareness and take a stand to end violence against women.

“Ana María was our community coordinator during the amazing time we spent in Santa Marta, El Salvador. She was able to help us when we became sick, integrate the volunteers within the community, organise large events, discuss the country’s history with clarity and drive the volunteering project forward. She was truly an inspirational woman. Her willingness to help and continual selflessness were qualities shared by all of the women in the community. During the civil war these women faced many hardships - from the loss of relatives and friends caught up in the fighting to having the pressure of raising a family through uncertain times. I believe it is important to remember and share their stories, experiences and struggles.” Daniel Callaghan, ICS volunteer in El Salvador (July - September 2015)

“Corina was my host-mother while I was on my volunteering placement in Santa Marta, El Salvador. Because of the limitations placed upon the social freedoms of women in Santa Marta, she barely ever leaves the house; instead, she cooks and cleans for her elderly parents and her son. Corina’s family had to flee Santa Marta on bare feet, through the pitch dark jungle when she was nine years old, escaping into Honduras from a military operation during the civil war in the 1980’s, which aimed at wiping out all human life in the area. Since returning to Santa Marta, two of Corina’s sons have made the perilous journey across the Mexican desert to search for work in the US, and the third and last is planning to follow his brother’s soon. It’s not clear if, or when, Corina will see them again. She endures her trauma, and the loss of her sons without complaint, even though she freely discusses it. Her quiet resilience will inspire me for the rest of my life.” Cate Buntrock, ICS volunteer in El Salvador (July - September 2015)

"Wendy Cerda was my partner Team Leader in Nicaragua. Ask anyone who has been in this position and they will tell you being a team leader is life consuming. I went home each day exhausted and collapsed on a rocking chair. Wendy went home to look after her young daughter and run a small stationary business to generate extra income for her family. Everyday she would come in with a giant smile on her face and an indefatigable passion for our project. Her ability to juggle so many responsibilities, dedicate time to helping others in her community and remain positive in the face of all these challenges was simply inspiring and cannot be forgotten." Iain Parker, ICS Team Leader in Nicaragua (April - September 2015)