PICO Central America is the first international project of the PICO Network. In 2002, Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez, Honduras, reached out to PICO to explore his vision of developing grassroots leadership among ordinary people through the Central American Catholic Church. He saw PICO’s leadership development method as an important tool that complemented efforts by the church to fight poverty in all six Central American countries. Introductory trainings took place across the region over the next few years, and in 2008, Salvadoran grassroots leaders came together to launch their own organization, Comunidades de fe Organizadas para Accion (COFOA). A group of the bishops who invited PICO to Central America continue to support the development of Central American organizing work and the eventual building of organizations in each country.
PICO Central America builds the capacity of ordinary people to become leaders, demonstrating self-reliance and self-sufficiency, and bringing their faith values into the public arena to transform their communities into better places to live, where community members experience justice, dignity and equal opportunities. As grassroots leaders gain confidence and skills in negotiating with public officials, civic participation is strengthened and together they find solutions to community needs.
PICO/COFOA leader efforts have resulted in nearly 6 million dollars of public funding to repair streets, improve access to clean water and establish new public safety measures. We are pleased to report that after four years of determination and hard work, a strong, sustainable organization is operating in El Salvador through nearly 300 grassroots leaders, a new one is on the way in Guatemala, and we expect to begin working in Honduras in 2012.
The time-tested PICO leadership development method is successful building leaders among low income people in El Salvador and Guatemala in their parishes and communities. These grassroots leaders develop their own local organizations through congregational Local Organizing Committees that lead their efforts. On-going training and support results in strong, self-sufficient leaders who bring together their communities to identify their top priorities and take action on their own behalf.