Where We Work
El Salvador is the smallest country in Central America, with Guatemala to the west and Honduras its north and east. It is a land of abundant volcanoes, and it slopes from beautiful mountainous areas where coffee is the grown to long stretches of volcanic beaches. There is always a breath-taking sight to be seen, whether it be gorgeous mountaintop views, volcano peaks rising up to the sky, unique and colorful tropical flowers or black-sand beaches. Located not too far north of the equator, our weather is very tropical with two basic seasons, a rainy season, which typically runs from May to late October, and a dry season, running from November through April. Temperatures usually top out in the 80s each day, dropping into the 60s at night. All of this beauty in nature serves as a reminder that there is a God! The people of El Salvador are hospitable, hard-working and yearn for a better tomorrow. They will capture your heart with their humility and smile, despite the adversities this small country has faced in the past and continues to face today.
In recent history, El Salvador experienced a civil war that lasted from the late 1970’s to the early 1990s when a peace agreement was signed between the two dividing sides. Having a long history of dictators, being overthrown and the cycle repeating, stability has been hard to find, with a great divide between those who have and those who do not. El Salvador is a republic, with elections every five years, but it remains a country with corruption and prevalent crime. During the long civil war, many men fled the country to find safety and not be drafted by either of the two sides. It was common for boys even as young as 12 years of age to be called to war and never return home. This migration continued in the early 2000s when El Salvador suffered two devastating earthquakes within a month. And today, many flee their gang-ridden towns and cities to avoid the pressure for even very young children to join the gangs. Girls often become sex slaves to gang members and young boys began collecting extortion fees and move up the ranks. Fear is real. Statistics show that up to 80% of children live without a father figure in the home. A deep-seeded culture of machismo and the mass migration have left many families separated and struggling. Dysfunctional family life has left deep scars on its people.
There’s much work to be done here in this small country, but God has called the founders of La Casa de mi Padre to focus on providing a loving family environment for the most vulnerable children who have suffered trauma, abuse, abandonment and/or neglect. These children have been removed from their family for a period of time, whether long term or short term. While at La Casa, the staff focuses on healing hearts and working with any biological family to determine root causes for separation and work to bring about a healthy reconnection and reunification whenever possible and safe to do so. We are accredited and supervised by the Salvadoran government, and referrals are made by the local Child Protective System and Family Court System. We are a debt-free non-profit and rely on the generous gifts of donors who wish to partner with us. We seek to use the resources we have and are given with integrity to honor God.
To heal hearts, restore families and bring hope of a better future to children in crisis in El Salvador; creating agents of change for generations to come, all for the glory of God.
Modeling a healthy home life and providing Christ-centered counseling, education, life planning, and family support.
Our relationship with Jesus Christ is the center of all we do.
Constantly seeking the Lord’s guidance has sustained the ministry since its conception and continues to be the foundation of all decisions made.
We encourage the children to move beyond one’s past and learn to extend the grace that we have received through Jesus Christ.
As God’s love dwells in the hearts of our children, His purpose and plans for their
We believe in being faithful stewards of God’s provision.
This ministry has not been built or sustained by any one person; it has truly taken a village. We delight in partnering with others in God’s work.
“This isn’t just a charity helping the needy. It isn’t just our passion. It isn’t just a home for children. It’s not an institute, it’s THEIR home. God created us all, and loves these children just as much as He loves our children. Why has He blessed us so abundantly? Possibly, it is so that we in turn can be a blessing to others. We wanted to do something to change their lives and ours were changed as well.”
Since 2002, La Casa de mi Padre Foundation has provided integral support to at-risk children and adolescents in El Salvador. LCDMP began when the founders met more than 50 girls and boys who lived in an old, abandoned house that was about to collapse. The poor conditions in the home grew a desire to support the children and adolescents to have access to appropriate care, and the founders began to work with ISNA to help guide the process of forming a legal identity.
In the beginning, the program was designed primarily to meet the children’s basic needs that included care, protection and education. However, it was discovered that the initial concept of the program did not meet the deep need for healing of traumatic pasts and the opportunity to remain connected with healthy biological family members. Considering the difficult reality of the backgrounds of the children and adolescents served: victims of abuse, abandonment and addictions as a result of dysfunctional patterns that have been reproduced in their families for generations; it was evident that a deeper need existed. Over time, the foundation has tried to guarantee the rights of children and adolescents, providing an environment that gives them the security to develop and reach their full potential and become agents of change in their homes and communities.
In 2006, the current therapeutic program was adopted as a proposal for a solution to promote a re-learning of the true value of the family and its important role in the well being of every child and adolescent. This process of change included separating the girls and boys into two separate homes in order to provide better attention to each group according to their specific needs, transforming gender stereotypes rooted in our culture and enhancing the understanding and empowerment of both groups. A family managed each home, playing the role of father and mother for the children placed under their care while modeling how a healthy family functions. In addition, essential support was placed around the home to ensure the integral development of each child and adolescence, including intentionally attending to each child and adolescent’s psychological needs. Likewise, the Family Restoration component was initiated in order to preserve, improve, strengthen and restore family ties as established by LEPINA, Child Right Act in El Salvador, in such a way that there is more frequent contact with families through home visits, phone calls, and family visits in LCDMP which include an education piece and psychological care. These contacts with the family continue to be used to work with each family in overcoming the cause of the Institutional placement with the hopes of a future reintegration or family placement, thus ensuring the right of every child and adolescent to be raised in his or her family if at all possible and in their best interest.
As of November 2015, LCDMP moved to its current location in the facilities of Finca el Milagro. Houseparents now live in a home with a group of 6 to 8 children along with their own biological children. An intensive support network is placed around each home to continue to ensure that the home functions in a healthy manner conducive to healing and restoring the child and family relationships. We have been able to see dramatic changes in behavior, school performance and emotional health in the lives of the children and adolescents as a result of experiencing a loving family environment.
Gary & Sharon Powell
FAQ about La Casa
Who are we?
Why a Family Setting?
How do We Work?
- Health and Nutrition: We partner with physicians, psychiatrists, neurologists and nutritionists to ensure that our children receive the proper health care they need to grow and develop.
- Counseling: We provide Christ-centered individual and group counseling for the children and their families to heal deep wounds in their hearts.
- Academic: Children come to us with varying educational backgrounds, some never have been to school. We work to identify each child’s academic needs and search out educational settings where they can reach their full potential. We provide the support each child needs to be successful through the structure of our day, tutoring help and consistent communication with the schools.
We believe that the health of our staff greatly impacts the care for the children. Our staff receive consistent, ongoing training to be able to better approach day-to-day situations with the children as well as required self-care routines to ensure proper mental health