Lutheran Peace Fellowship

Youth Perspectives on Central America
by Brian Mostrom and Heather Rose

Brian Mostrom

At 14 years old, I was the youngest person on LPF's trip this summer. I was appalled at the conditions in which young people have to live in Central America. One exception was a rural agricultural cooperative, Nueva Esperanza in El Salvador, where I found that parents were more able to take care of young people because of the remarkable community structure they set up.

In other communities we visited, the children receive little or no formal education. Without education, it is hard for people to improve their lives.

We visited many places where young people were viewed as very important and seemed to be the center of the community. For example, the school and community center was the major building in the Ciudad Sandino community in Nicaragua.

In communities such as these, there is a hope that things will improve for the next generation. This hope helps to hold these communities together. I found that the communities that were working best in both Nicaragua and El Salvador were the ones that worked together in raising the children.

Brian Mostrom is a member of Seattle's Central Lutheran Church and traveled to the church's sister parish in Guatemala in 1996.

Heather Rose

I was impressed with the level of leader-ship I saw among youth in Nicaragua and El Salvador. Lutheran youth leaders in Nicaragua meet regularly for bible study which they take back to share with their local groups. They also get together at national gatherings. Their issues are similar to concerns in the U.S.: how to encourage spiritual life, involve youth in service projects, and reach youth in areas that are not yet active.

I was impressed with the youth service group, Puntos de Encuentro which offers a two-week camp for more than 100 youth each summer. It was inspiring to hear that youth are trained to lead much of the program, even on such challenging issues as sexism, ageism, classism, racism, and homophobia.

Youth leaders guide small groups, facilitating sessions from brainstorming to empowerment and action. Puentos de Encuentro offers trainings throughout the year and has published colorful booklets to reach additional youth.

Heather Rose serves on the national board of the ELCA's Lutheran Youth Organization and is a student at Western Washington Univ.

back to Fall 1998 newsletter

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