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A Legacy of Building Hope in El Salvador


September 5, 2019

It’s hard not to be disturbed by stories in the news of desperate refugees walking thousands of miles from Central America to the United States, no matter what your political leanings. A recent photo of an El Salvadoran father and his daughter lying in shallow water after trying to swim across the Rio Grande River where their fatal journey ended is just one example. You, me, and others hearing of these tragic stories wonder, “what can we do, how can we help?”

A small group from Swiss Church has been working for more than twenty years to bring hope to the people in El Salvador. The group is committed to planting seeds for new growth and to nurture work already being done. Each winter, this group travels to El Salvador to assist them in improving their standard of living and to raise the educational level of each child. For those who have made the journey, the experience is life changing. Kari Yaun, a member of Swiss Church, finds the words of Jacob Norby meaningful in what those trips have meant to her. “You know how every once in a while you do something and the little voice inside says, “There. That’s it. That’s why you’re here.”…and you get a warm glow in your heart because you know it’s true? Do more of that.”

These groups have witnessed poverty beyond anything imaginable. The people they have met are unbelievably grateful and possess a deep-rooted commitment to faith. While most people in a group are associated with the Swiss Church, there are others equally committed locally or from other places who have shared in this experience. Christine Felton, from the Evansville UCC, has made several trips sharing her experiences along the way with others. Her church made a commitment to pay for medical care for a young girl named Rosibel. Rosibel was diagnosed with a heart arrhythmia and anemia due to poor nutrition. Her health has greatly improved and she continues receiving top grades in school. At the age of ten she serves as the community master of ceremony, announcing speakers and musicians for town festivals. When Christine was asked what keeps her so involved, she stated, “Love is a circle. My privileges require me to give. My faith moves me to give. Sharing enables me to learn and I have learned a stronger faith from the generous people of El Salvador.”

There are two primary projects dedicated to the welfare of the people of El Salvador. “All God’s Children” is a program for individuals, families, Sunday school students/class, and others to sponsor a child in by supporting their educational needs. Another is the “Community Improvement Project,” offering services such as painting a doctor’s office, school or other buildings, planting a school/community garden, providing dental services, and building a community center, homes, chicken coops, and greenhouses. Since the inception of these projects, successes are many especially for Elmer, a young boy who walked six treacherous miles just to attend the sixth grade. Today, he teaches school in his community.

To learn how you can sponsor a child or donate to support a community project, contact Swiss Church at (608) 527-2119. If you would like to learn more about traveling with a group to El Salvador, January 18-25, 2020, contact Kari Yaun at Informational meetings are being planned this fall. Check the Swiss Church Facebook page for more information. The organizing team is grateful to all who have supported their efforts to build hope in El Salvador.

“Believe that what you do matters and will make a difference in people’s lives. You don’t have to save the world in one stroke but you can make a difference one person at a time.” Anonymous


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