by Kent Madsen
Pedrina Rivera has been a long time friend and co-worker in our community of Guillermo Ungo. We first met Pedrina as a young woman in the village of Los Henriquez. The next time we visited it seemed that Los Henriquez was struggling as a community with a number of problems. However, on our visit the following year, it was apparent that a strong, well-spoken young woman had taken charge and Los Henriquez was on solid footing.
Pedrina was also a Health Promoter in Los Henriquez. (Photo) Health Promoters in El Salvador are informally trained people, usually women, that make themselves available to help their nearby community members with first aid and preventative health care.
Later, Pedrina became a nursing student, a natural progression from Health Promoter. She was heartily encouraged by Christine Madsen, my late wife. Pedrina still refers to her as “Mama Cristy”. Pedrina progressed in her studies, but was called to a political career before she graduated.
Pedrina was first elected as an Assistant Deputy of the National Assembly. Later, she was elected Alcaldessa (mayor) of Suchitoto in 2012. (Poster photo) Under her leadership Suchitoto has blossomed. The town has many assets, but leadership is needed to keep it (relatively) safe, clean, and welcoming.
The delegation met with Mayor Rivera in her office at the Alcaldia, or city hall. It’s a beautiful colonial Spanish building with a traditional square courtyard. We talked about current and upcoming initiatives, our organization’s work with Guillermo Ungo, and her remaining time in office (three years). Later, Pedrina joined us for lunch at the Museo Cafe in the Centro de Arte para La Paz.
It is very gratifying to watch a young woman mature into a strong, effective leader. Santa Cruz al Salvador is blessed to have Pedrina as a special friend.