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Rick Steves, guidebook author, and PBS Personality is one of the world’s most respected travel authorities. He encourages U.S. citizens to travel abroad independently and become 'temporary locals,' by seeking paths usually not taken by tourists. IPM’s signature Immersion Experience Program to the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, India, Kenya, Nicaragua, and other countries, is exactly the type of transformational travel that Rick promotes and recommends. IPM brought Rick Steves to give a presentation about his latest book, Travel as a Political Act, at the Breen Center for the Performing Arts in Ohio City. 

Among the many topics of importance, Steves addressed his 2005 visit to El Salvador, where he went for the 25th anniversary of the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero.  While there, he marched in San Salvador in remembrance of the martyred hero. Steves was blown away by the endless courage and positivity of the Salvadorians, who were, at that time, still recovering from two devastating earthquakes, which had hit the country in 2001, killing 2,000 and leaving homeless 1.5 million.

El Salvador is a country, where IPM has been working with multiple Project Partners to build justice, peace, and hope. One example would be ACACCPAMU, which has had exemplary results in providing women a way to generate income for themselves and their children. With IPM funding, in 2009, the women improved the life of their community and families, by bringing a corn grinder to town. As corn is the primary component of the Salvadoran diet, consumed as tortillas or pupusas, the demand for an easy and convenient way to grind corn into flour was very high. Previously, women had to travel for hours on an unsafe, time consuming and labor-intense journey to the nearest grinder.The women charge a small fee for community members to use the grinder, as an income generating activity. The women use the flour produced by the grinder to make baked goods, which they would sell at a small bakery cooperative in the community.

In 2013, ACACCPAMU continued to see an increase in the number of women coming to use their mill to grind corn and spices.  The women also made several improvements to their building space, allowing them to be one step closer to attaining a license to distribute their products on a larger scale.  The project is operated by six women but is able to reach over 230 families in the community. IPM has helped them to keep their mills in order by purchasing machine parts and funding routine maintenance and training on its usage.  

The IPM Team was honored to be able to bring Rick Steves, who celebrates El Salvador and its people in his latest book and other writings, to Cleveland, alongside forty other remarkable national and international experts, in celebration of our 40th anniversary through a week-long series of events during October 13 to 17, 2014.