Some Lawrence residents say they'd like to assist a village in El Salvador that was abandoned because of civil war, then resettled.
Lawrence has official sister city links in Europe and Japan.
Now there's a plan for a sister city connection in the Third World. A group of Lawrence residents is now working to establish an unofficial "sister city" relationship with a village in El Salvador, a nation wracked by years of civil war.
"We've been trying to get something started for about a year," said Liz Maggard, member of Latin American Solidarity, a local organization involved in Latin American issues.
"This is basically a nongovernment project."
Maggard and Emily Bono, co-coordinator of LAS, recently outlined efforts to establish an informal sister city relationship with a village in El Salvador.
An ad hoc group comprised of Lawrence residents is working on the project, which is not being sponsored by the city.
The village, El Papaturro, has about 60 families. It is located about 41 kilometers northeast of San Salvador.
In 1980, residents fled the village because of civil war. The village was resettled in 1990.
A history of the village was written by its community council for Tim Lohrentz, a Newton resident who works with U.S.-El Salvador Sister Cities, a national umbrella organization that promotes ties between the two countries. Lohrentz visited the village in April and gave a copy of the document to the local group.
According to the council, "Many people were assassinated and persecuted and in 1980 we were obligated to flee our country ... looking for protection in Honduras, where we learned many skills."
Since returning, villagers are attempting to rebuild their livelihoods.
"We would like to reconstruct the school and build a small health clinic," the council says in the document. "In the realm of agriculture, we will continue to cultivate corn, beans, sesame seeds, and we want to replant and reactivate the coffee orchard that exists in the community and was once a source of development of the entire community."
Maggard said the local group would like to help the village by providing inexpensive medicines and other supplies.
She said the group is meeting regularly to discuss ways of forming ties.
LAS member Marc Becker visited the village in January 1992. He said access to the village is made by an unpaved road.
"It's very remote," he said.
Lawrence officially has sister city relationships with Hiratsuka, Japan, and Eutin, Germany.
Carol Shankel, a member of the Lawrence Sister Cities Advisory Board, said the city has many private ties with other communities as well, in part because of Kansas University.
"I would think Lawrence has lots of private ties with various groups," she said. "I don't know of any policy preventing people from having private ties."
The next meeting of the El Salvador group is 7 p.m., Nov. 22 at Ecumenical Christian Ministries, 1204 Oread.