Last week, ELAW’s Michele Kuhnle blogged about the benefits of supporting international work. Many groups, like ELAW, work across borders to achieve lasting change through high-impact work at low costs. The Seattle International Foundation (SIF) is one example of an international group that we love, because they are making a big impact by connecting the human network throughout Central America and around the globe.

ELAW Partner, Clarisa Vega works in Honduras

SIF works globally, providing grants in three areas:  Program Support; Collaboration & Networks; and Research & Special Events. Within their Central America Program, SIF works to alleviate poverty by utilizing three strategies:  Micro-finance; Leadership Development; and Public Policy.

In late 2010, ELAW and SIF teamed up to host the “Uniendo Esfuerzos Centroamericanos,” a three-day conference in San Jose, Costa Rica, where advocates from around the region gathered to discuss women’s issues, environmental concerns, indigenous rights, at-risk youth community, and other critical issues. Advocates shared lessons and strategies and built alliances and partnerships to address these concerns. Mauricio Vivero, SIF Executive Director, and Michele Frix, SIF Program Officer, were at the meeting. There were also many ELAW Staff and ELAW Partners from all around the Central American Region.

ELAW Executive Director, Bern Johnson, ELAW Staff Attorney Jen Gleason, ELAW Partner Maurice Makoloo, and ELAW Staff Attorney Liz Mitchell attended the conference

Lori Maddox, ELAW Associate Director, focuses much of her energy on the Central America region and collaborating with ELAW partners there who are working to protect the environment and communities from destructive mining, offshore oil drilling, and unsustainable development. Lori attended the conference and here is what she had to say:

It was exciting to meet new allies working on poverty alleviation and youth and women’s empowerment and connect them with ELAW partners working to protect natural resources and defend human rights. We all know that both poverty and natural resource destruction in Central America violate basic human rights. And both problems affect the same people, because of the economic chasm that exists between rich and poor. We all deserve to breathe clean air, drink clean water, and live with dignity. The combined networks of SIF and ELAW in Central America have the power to make lasting change. I am inspired by our emerging partnership.

SIF created a fantastic video of the days’ events, highlighting many of the workshop’s participants and objectives. Watch the video here.  (If you have problems viewing the video, try allowing the video to buffer, or turn off the HD.)

Lauren Ice
ELAW Office Manager