October 20, 2018

El Salvador and the Netherlands: Two Societies United by the Spirit of Solidarity

By H.E. Mr Agustín Vásquez Gómez, Ambassador of the Republic of El Salvador to the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

A big ocean and more than nine thousand kilometers separate the land of Cuscatlán – primitive name given to El Salvador – and the land of the tulips and the windmills. While people in El Salvador have learned to live among volcanoes, earthquakes and hot weather all year long, people in the Netherlands are use to live surrounded by water everywhere and in many parts of the country, they live below the sea level and with an unpredictable four seasons in one day.

With these marked geographical conditions, to affirm that both societies have things in common would be extremely risky.

The experience of living abroad is a reality that every diplomat of any country faces every day, knowing the customs, the culture and in general the way of life of the receiving country.

This experience allows me to share why I consider both societies are closer than everyone can imagine. El Salvador, as many countries in the world, has its everyday challenges, many of them are tackled through the direct institutional action, and some others are supported in solidarity from different parts of the world.

The equation that unites both societies is precisely the spirit of support and solidarity, a main virtue of the Dutch people and the challenges that in different ways exist in El Salvador.

This context allows me to share about Vastenactie, a Dutch Organization that since 2017, is supporting the youth affected by violence, through a three year program named “Islands of Hope in San Salvador”, helping to create opportunities for a fairer, humane and prosperous society. Behind Vastenactie there is a great number of anonymous Dutch donors, who by different means and solidarity change the conditions of life of many adolescents who most probably will never get to know.

But Vastenactie is not alone inspiring Dutch people in solidarity. Up in the north of the country, in the beautiful city of Hoorn, there is a School identified as Tabor College Oscar Romero. Oscar Romero is known as the most universal Salvadoran, because he dedicated his life, as Archbishop of San Salvador, until his murder in March 1980, to raise his voice for the poor and the people in need, when their rights were being violated. No better words to define how Oscar Romero was as the Tabor College does: justified, refreshing, dedicated and open.

The spirit of justice and the search of truth of Archbishop Romero inspired in 1983 a group of Dutch notable academic people to nominate the Tabor College as “Oscar Romero”. Now, almost 35 years after the nomination, a sense of solidarity has risen from the School authorities and all the academic community when knowing the conditions of two schools in El Salvador.

The College, while developing a fundraising campaign which will engage students, parents, teachers and friends of the Tabor College Oscar Romero, is about to change the life of more than one thousand five hundred students of the “Centro Escolar Fermín Velasco” in the city of Sensuntepeque and many others of the “Centro Escolar Reino de Holanda”, in San Salvador, which means “School Kingdom of the Netherlands”, nomination given as a symbol of the historic bonds of friendship that exist between both peoples and governments.

Indeed, there are many more stories to mention about the spirit of solidarity from the Netherlands to El Salvador, but with the picture of the most recent ones, materialized by Vastenactie and the Tabor College Oscar Romero, it is meaningful to affirm that both societies have become closer enough, no matter the differences of culture and the geographical distance between them.

What is clear is the conviction and certainty that when there is a solidarity society as the Dutch society and a grateful one as the Salvadoran society, there will be a better world.


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