Marina Ortiz | pronouns: she, her, hers | Human Rights Activist
Marina Ortiz is a human rights activist and community leader of the Grupo de Solidaridad in North King County. The group is convened by community leaders with support from Church Council organizers.
Grupo Solidaridad brings together the mission of congregations to walk with migrant community members and the real needs of local migrant families, building a movement as unique and powerful as the leaders who make it possible.
Interview 10/21/20 | Flor Guerro, Translator |Beth Amsbary, Interviewer
Who is the Grupo de Solidaridad?
El Grupo de Solidaridad para las familias de Mesoamérica is a team that works to support immigrant families and offers them accompaniment throughout their integration into American society. Our intention is that through this space, people know who we are and can support the work we do.
What does Grupo de Solidaridad do?
What the Solidarity Group (Grupo de Solidaridad) is working on is families supporting families. The idea is for churches/congregations to see the families we work with, and to build relationships.
I notice there is a lot of work in South Seattle, but not as much in North Seattle. We are developing more leadership in North Seattle. Those immigrants have needs too.
We have a meeting every two months to gather and exchange experiences with the families we accompany. This meeting is held in Spanish. We are a group of adults living in the United States with the desire to put our knowledge, skills and experience in communications, resource management, refugee accompaniment, community mobilization, campaign organization, development of productive initiatives and resource management among others.
Is there a story or a moment from the last year that stands out for you?
A young man from Honduras received so much help to set up for his wedding. He had no idea his wedding would be so beautiful.
When [COVID hit] and the group was activated, I knew a family that needed help because of immigration status. They tried to get unemployment, but could not. They feel blessed because they got food and could eat. There was no money, no food. I made a proposal to help them with rent and the congregations really helped out.
There is so much need. So much need in the community.
What inspires leadership? What makes it possible?
What inspires me the most: I know many migrants have been survivors. They deserve a life with dignity. There is such a breach between rich and poor. This country has so much. It is possible to have a stress-less life here. Here the migrants do not have to worry for their life, but they could have more. They could have a life that is actually pleasant.
What helped me see that was my work in El Salvador: equality was missing. Now I am here, I can have equality.
What is the difference between convivencia and charity?
Charity, in my personal opinion, it happens when people see what is needed. You see someone has a need and you help.
With convivencia you are involved. You see more. You see beyond the immediate need. You become a bridge to each other. With convivencia, you are doing more than caring for one family; you are building a movement. The idea is to create something big – of North American people sharing voice and walking together with immigrant people.
It is very important to see cultures. Once we see each other’s cultures, we can be equal. We can recognize differences and appreciate them.
You are a busy person, with many ways you could contribute to the community. What made you decide to spend your energy with congregations and why with the Church Council?
Because I notice leadership. I notice they have the desire and energy to help. I am a refugee too. Churches offered help to me. I thought I could share that gift with others; I would like to offer that to others, the chance to connect with congregations. It is a connection that lasts.
When we have our first convivencia/potluck again after COVID, what would you like to bring?
We bring food from our countries. For me, pupusas, of course!
Anything else you would like to say?
You should make yourself known if you are available to accompany an immigrant. You are needed.
Dear neighbor, the leaders who connect us urgently need your support. Please, make a gift to the immediate & enduring work being done through the Church Council of Greater Seattle today.
Read here: Marina and two more local leaders of the Church Council tell you about their organizing circles. Every week for the next 3 weeks, we’ll share another of their full interviews on our website and send emails as well.