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Pathways to Resilience2018-12-10T14:48:08+00:00

Pathways to Resilience

AN UNEXPECTED TRAGEDY

Fuego’s eruption on Sunday June 3 2018 rocked SERES to its core and impacted the organization in more ways than one. SERES was one of the few NGOs with a working history in the communities impacted. We also own land abutting the impact zone. Many of our youth and community leaders were forced to evacuate their homes and sadly a number of them lost their lives. This intimate knowledge of the communities and community leaders placed SERES in the center of the chaotic disaster relief efforts, and we remain involved at a grassroots level in the post-disaster reconstruction efforts.

LEVERAGING OUR ASSETS

The volcano’s catastrophic eruption prompted us to closely examine our organization’s strategic priorities, most importantly our plans for our youth leadership center in the area. As we have examined these priorities, we have been guided by two strategic questions:

  • What does it mean to be a part of this community, and how can we leverage our assets to help those impacted to bounce forward into a future that is stronger, fairer and more resilient?
  • How can we use disaster as a catalyst for dignity, agency and human goodness, creating an opportunity to transform lives and livelihoods?

In response to these questions and input from our community leaders, SERES has articulated 3 projects which we plan to implement starting October 2018 as part of SERES’ commitment to helping these communities “bounce forward”, achieving resiliency and sustainability through economic and social transformation. We call these projects “Pathways to Resilience”.

AGRO-ECOLOGY PROJECT

SERES owns 25 acres of land about 25km south of Antigua and 15km from Escuintla, where the majority of survivors are living in temporary camps. While located very close to Zone 0 (the volcano impact site) the property itself received no damage from the volcanic explosion. The region is well known for its fertility and has a climate that is conducive to a year-round growing season making it an ideal site for the agro- ecology farming center.

Working with local leaders, other NGOs, the private sector and government actors SERES proposes to establish a productive agro-ecology farming center on this land. The center would be dedicated to commercial agricultural activities that will double as teaching and demonstration plots for new projects to support community-led co-operatives and enterprises. The center will provide opportunities for employment for survivors of the volcano, while also generating the invaluable artifacts of lived experience as SERES and our community work together to create our own pathway forward out of this tragedy.

YOUTH TRANSFORM

Building on SERES’ award-winning leadership curriculum, SERES’ Youth Transform project will engage and empower young people such as Kesler from the impacted area (pictured left) to play a key role in designing and implementing community projects for the transitional shelter camps as well as their new homes. The curriculum will be tailored for the specific context of youth living in transitional shelter camps, including methods designed to help young trauma survivors develop the tools to overcome their trauma and lead healthy, productive lives.

The program will consist of monthly workshops held within the camp(s), as well as a 5-day off-site retreat. Participants will also be integrated into the wider SERES youth leaders’ community, and invited to participate in other SERES programs such as the annual Youth Sustainability Summit. During the program, participants will be supported to work on Personal and Community Resilience Action Plans. These action plans use a project-based learning methodology to help participants develop hard and soft skills, as well as building personal resilience and strengthening their connection to place and community.

YOUTH WILDERNESS CAMP

The Youth Wilderness Camp will establish a campsite facility on SERES’ land. Accommodating up to 30 people at a time, the facility will be designed with youth in mind, providing a fun, safe and inspiring place that provides the conditions for personal discovery, growth and learning. SERES will use this camp facility to provide experiential education programs for young people as well as job-readiness and leadership training.

GIVE US A HAND

“No other institution or organization is offering such holistic and safe learning spaces as SERES does. Thanks for everything.”

Marta Vargas, SERES Ambassador

“SERES means a lot in my life. It’s a circle of friendship for learning, transformation and personal growth. It’s a place of trust and confidence. As a SERES facilitator, I get to transmit all of this to other people”

Wilson Sánchez, SERES Facilitator

“The tools that SERES teaches us help us to replicate the work in our communities…we can reach more people, empower more youth, and make our action plans at the local level known at the regional level.”

Julio Tojín, SERES Ambassador

“The spaces that SERES provides are places where we can be our full selves – the good and the bad – and that’s always something to appreciate. I feel valued because here it’s not your academic achievements that make a person, it’s the way you think and your ability to keep going…”

Gaspar Laines Juil

“I have felt included and connected from the minute that I became involved (in SERES). It has helped me grow in my own personal leadership. SERES never tells me what to do, but they support me to make the decisions that are right for me.”

Axel Salanic

“To feel that I’m a part of a movement at the level of UNESCO has confirmed for me that I am doing valuable things. I’m fortunate to belong to this global movement for action”

Antonio Cruz Sanchez, SERES co-founder
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