Milagros Vela is a brilliant storyteller with astonishing tales to tell. The tenth child of Pipíl and Creole parents, she grew up neglected and hungry on the outskirts of San Salvador. She survived earthquakes, political violence, illness, and an abusive and chaotic family environment. Forced, for three years, to train as a child soldier, she defied the school principal and refused to join the guerrillas.
Despite vicious sexual harassment, Milagros graduated from the National Institute for Industrial Technology. The first in her family to finish high school, she was also the first to be legally married. During the Salvadoran civil war Milagros and her family survived ten days of shelling in the ruins of their home. Many years later, when they could no longer protect their children from gang violence, she and her husband fled with their family to the U.S.
From trauma to trauma Milagros has been sustained by powerful dreamlike experiences and an intense spiritual life, which are reflected in her deep, pentecostal Christian faith. She has always loved literature, and has read the great writers: Dante, Cervantes, Claudia Lars, Alfredo Espino, Roque Dalton, and los hermanos Grimm. Now she is telling her own life story.
An unwanted child herself, today Milagros cares for the children of American tech workers.
RITA E. MORAN
Milagros is collaborating on her memoir with her dear friend and former English teacher, Rita E. Moran. Rita is a professional writer and human rights educator. The oldest girl of ten children in an Irish-American Catholic family, she lost her older brother to police violence at the University of California at Santa Barbara in 1970, just two weeks before the killings at Kent State. Rita has been a lifelong community activist.
For 15 years Rita taught English as a Second Language to Latino and Indigenous immigrants in San Francisco’s Mission District, working for both City College of San Francisco and the San Francisco Unified School District. For nearly 15 years she has collected and exhibited paintings by contemporary Maya artists from Guatemala, focusing on the status of women. Rita has spoken on art and human rights at many conferences and college events.
Rita worked for 20 years as a writer and technical publications manager in Silicon Valley. She graduated from the University of California at Berkeley, majoring in Comparative Literature, and earned an M.A. in English (Creative Writing) from San Francisco State University.