Hello from El Salvador! We had our “spring break” this past week. It was, of course, a “staycation,” but it was a break from the past three weeks of homeschooling and all of the pressures that came with it. Certainly, it was a needed break. Would you please continue to pray for our houseparents and children as we weather out this time? Your prayers and support are keeping us able to meet the daily needs of those we serve.
But today, we want to focus on another aspect of the ministry to give you a glimpse inside the lives of the families we serve and our neighbors around the farm, where we are located.
Normally, here in the city, the mornings can be filled with people dinging their bells to let you know they are selling sweet bread or shouting out “Café, Café!” Later in the morning, we may hear the loud speakers blare out “la papa, la papa, la papa.” (That’s the fruit and vegetable man coming by with his truck letting you know he has potatoes and other things to sell.) You drive along the streets and people are eager to clean your windshield, sell you bananas or a charger for your phone. Many people in El Salvador sell on the streets to make their living. They are mini “entrepreneurs,” trying to make their daily living. And that is exactly what it is. It provides for the basic needs of the day.
Since the mandatory quarantine has gone into place, these people are no longer selling. They can’t. So, their sustenance is gone. The government recently promised $300 to each family whose electrical usage was below a certain amount. Some were on that list, but many others were not. The last census was more than ten years ago and many that we work with did not have identification at that time. It’s taking time to work the system. The consequences always fall harder on those living in poverty now, sending them spiraling down into desperation.
That is life for most of our children’s families. We are connecting with each of the families we work with weekly via phone. Some are doing OK; they were able to access the money offered by the government. Others are struggling, yet we have no way of getting to them under the limited ability to move about during the quarantine. We are working on ways to get food to them. Pray for our families. Pray for solutions.
This past week, we opened the newspapers to see a mother of one of the children we have had under our care for 15 years now. We work with her; we stay in communication. But when the quarantines started and we tried to call, the number no longer worked. She sells on the streets and earns enough for food for the day and the $5 rate to pay for a room for the night. She can’t sell now; she has no money to put a small amount of “minutes” on her phone. No food, no place to sleep. The article in the paper was about her having to make a shelter out of plastic. Our hearts sank. Our family program exists to help. We sent our social worker searching. It took several times out to locate her. And when we did, she had strung a piece of plastic up under a bus stop to shelter her for the night. Someone had given her a little food, and she had built a fire along side the road to cook. She was quite proud that she was surviving. She refused to move.
And then we have neighbors around the farm who are in desperate need. We have 19 widows who live around the community where our farm is located. Two weeks ago, we purchased some basic food and got it to them. Many didn’t have any food in their home. Tears ran down their faces at the sight of some basic staples. This past week, we had a donation given of food packages to be given to these widows and some of the poorest in the community. God is seeing the need, and God is providing.
But as this quarantine lingers, as hope seems to be lost in the desperation of survival, these are only temporary fixes that last maybe a week, a little longer. Right now, the focus is on meeting the immediate need, hoping and praying that things will take a turn upward, eventually.
Would you pray for us as we are caring for children from difficult places that bring a complicated tangle of “why’s” and “how’s” with them? It’s messy. It’s hard. It takes resources. But we are reminded that these are God’s children and He has a plan. He brings healing and hope. Pray we never lose focus.
And then would you pray for God to open your eyes to the neighbors around you in need as well? Together, we can shine light in the darkness because we reflect Him!
Praying for all of you and your hard work during these difficult times. Will pray for the families of the children, the widows surrounding the property and the other children and families. Praying for strength, good health and the daily miracles that are needed.