La Paz de Susan

Link here to La Paz de Susan, Sister Susan Dewitt's blog about working with PazSalud and living in El Salvador from 2009 through 2013.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Clean water for Estanzuelas Families

One of the cornerstones of PazSalud's work in El Salvador is our commitment to our mission communities well after our two main medical brigades are completed.  We live that commitment in a number of ways: one of the most significant is working with a local NGO to provide water filters to families.

During PazSalud's February General Medical Mission, our medical team identifies patients - especially children - who suffer serious health effects from drinking contaminated water and 'prescribes' them a filter.  We then work with our local mission coordinator to follow-up with these families by training them on the need for, and use of, a water filter.  Simultaneously PazSalud raises funds to purchase the excellent and easy-to-use Sawyer water filters ( in the U.S.  Our goal is to provide 100 filters to every mission community we work with.

We collaborate with the CIS (Centro de Intercambio y Solidaridad) to provide the training that makes the water filter project work.  Participants are required to come to three sessions, in which they learn why clean water is essential, and how to install, use and clean the Sawyer filters.  A local Water Committee is formed that visits all the families to make sure they are using the filters correctly.

Here are scenes from the training sessions in Estanzuelas, our 2013 Mission site:

This woman is drilling a hole in her bucket (the filter packets come complete with a small hand drill) as preparation for installing the filter.

The completed assembly: the Sawyer system works with two buckets, with water fed by gravity from a higher bucket through the filter and into a lower bucket.  The group photo below shows what the completed system looks like:

Monday, July 14, 2014

Sister Eleanor Gilmore, 1932 - 2014

Our beloved founder, Sister Eleanor Gilmore, died Saturday, July 12th after suffering a massive stroke. Here is some information about her amazing life of service with PeaceHealth, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace and the people of El Salvador:

Sister Eleanor Gilmore, (Sister Estelle), a woman whose life was marked by peace, courage and a  joyful spirit, died July 12, 2014 in Bellevue, Washington.  A Sister of St. Joseph of Peace, Sister Eleanor served in leadership for her community and with PeaceHealth; she ministered to the people of El Salvador during the Civil War of the late 1980s and later returned to found PazSalud, the El Salvador Health Care Mission of PeaceHealth and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace. 
Eleanor Catherine Gilmore was born in Seattle in 1932, the only child of Michael and Anne Gilmore.  She described her vocation as a Sister of St. Joseph of Peace as a “mysterious gift of joy” that interrupted her plans to marry a young man she’d met in England.   She entered the community in 1955, earned a B.A. in Seattle University, trained as a nurse at Sacred Heart Hospital, Eugene, Oregon, and earned a Masters in Hospital Administration from St. Louis University.
Sister Eleanor served as Administrator at St. John’s PeaceHealth Hospital in Longview, Washington and as operating room supervisor at Sacred Heart PeaceHealth Hospital, Eugene, Oregon; she was elected as Councilor for the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace Generalate in 1970 and as Province Leader for the Western Region in 1982, leading  the community through years of great change in religious life.
Eleanor’s life changed dramatically when she decided to work in El Salvador in 1988, during the final years of the Salvadoran Civil War.  With Jesuit Refugee Services, she organized a sanctuary in San Salvador for country people needing to come to the capitol for health care.   Twice arrested during that time when religious workers were often threatened or deported, Eleanor still returned to work with the people she had come to love.  Later, as Vice President for Mission at PeaceHealth, she organized PazSalud, bringing medical teams to  serve poor rural communities in El Salvador.  She led that mission from 2001-2009. 
Since returning from El Salvador, Sister Eleanor has lived at St. Mary-on-the-Lake, Bellevue, WA, playing an active role in the life of the community, serving on PeaceHealth and Mercy Housing Boards, and delighting in travel to visit friends and family. She will be deeply missed by her family, community, PeaceHealth co-workers and many friends in El Salvador and around the world.

The Vigil Service will be on Wednesday, July 16, 7:00 p.m. at St. Mary-on-the-Lake, 1663 Killarney Way, Bellevue, WA.  The Mass of Christian Burial will be at Sacred Heart Church, 9460 NE 14th St., Bellevue, on Thursday, July 17 at 10:30 a.m. Burial will be at 2 p.m. at Holyrood Catholic Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace Retirement Fund or to the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace for Paz Salud, the El Salvador Health Mission founded by Sister Eleanor, P.O. Box 248, Bellevue, WA 98009.