Bolivia: April 2015 Quesimpuco Update
Ivan “Boo Lee” Roman, our Latin American Project Coordinator, will be sharing about SIFAT’s Quesimpuco projects each month. This is his first update, and we are excited to be able to share about the wonderful work our graduates are doing in this isolated community high in the Andes Mountains. SIFAT began working in Quesimpuco in the mid-90s. Many young professionals who lived in the SIFAT-sponsored boarding home and attended our high school moved away for higher education, but are returning to serve their own communities. More than 10,000 people live beyond Quesimpuco in the Chayanta Valley, accessible only by narrow foot trails carved into steep mountainsides. Quesimpuco is in the province of Chayanta in northern Potosi. One of the poorest and most remote areas in the Americas, the average annual income is $97.
Challenges for the Elderly in the Chaupirana Valley
Life in Quesimpuco and other villages in the Chaupirana Valley is not easy for anyone especially the elderly. With no markets or steady influx of goods from far away productive areas, our people there live on the verge of a tragedy should a prolonged rainy season or drought hit the area. Most of the elderly population live by themselves. The distance to their small plots bears a heavy load on their everyday struggle to survive. Facing a shortage of firewood, they walk great distances across rough terrain to collect a few sticks to cook the small yield their farms produce. With such insufficient nourishment, their health is poor and they are more than likely to skip a medical visit the few times doctors are available.
Learn & Serve: Meet the Spring Interns
This spring, we are privileged to have three Learn & Serve interns volunteering at SIFAT. They help plan and implement our programming with the many school, church, university and civic groups that visit SIFAT. Always willing to serve, our interns – Laurel, Lee and Mac – have become part of our SIFAT family. They will be sharing more in the next few weeks about some of their experiences while here, but first, we wanted to introduce them to you, and in their own words, explain how they came to participate in the L&S internship program. We are taking applications until May 1 for next year’s interns! If you’re interested, learn more on our website.
My youth group came to SIFAT while I was in the 11th grade, and I worked on Flex Staff the summer I graduated high school. During my time on campus, I came to see how SIFAT operates and how it came to be this way. To me, it is such a beautiful concept. It is not necessarily a foreign concept, but the simplified vision of SIFAT (to share God’s love in practical ways) put words and a central idea to how I wanted to live. I want to not just say that I love my neighbor, but I actually want to act out my love. I legitimately want to show my neighbor, my brother, my sister, anyone I come in contact with that God loves them through my actions and lifestyle.
Ecuador: Team Members Needed Now!
Mission team members are needed by April 10 for a special VBS team to Ecuador on June 27 – July 5, 2015. SIFAT teams usually work with our graduates in Ecuador to build facilities for the after-school programs sponsored by Compassion International. These programs give children from very poor families, who would otherwise be on the streets when not in school, a safe place to learn and grow. For this team only, we have been asked by two Methodist churches to help with a VBS-style camp for Compassion-sponsored and neighborhood children in two different communities.
Each high-energy camp will last three days and be led by Rev. Bill Etheridge of Aldersgate UMC in Huntsville, Ala. In Atucucho, where SIFAT teams built two daycare centers and a church, about 100-150 children are expected to participate at Agua de Vida UMC. The other camp will be for about 200 children and held outside Quito in Chaquibamba at a Methodist project called Puerta de Esperanza (Door of Hope).
Cost: $2050, including round-trip airfare. Leisure day activities include visiting the Middle of the World and having lunch at El Crater restaurant on the edge of an extinct volcano, as well as a day trip to zip-line in the Mindo cloud forest.
If interested, contact Peggy Walker, international team coordinator, right away at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include a short bio and contact information.
Learn & Serve: 48: A Slum Experience Recap
This January, we once again held an intense slum experience that lasted 48 hours. In this blog post, Learn & Serve Interim Director Becca Griffin shares not only about this event, but also some background and statistics about urban slums to help us better understand how about one billion people in the world live.
Ecuador : Understanding Our Place in the World on MLK Weekend 2015
SIFAT’s eighth annual 48: A Slum Experience was held on January 17-19, 2015. We attempted to befriend around one billion of our brothers and sisters around the world who live in urban slums today. We tried to walk in the shoes of people whose lives are worlds away from our own.
What is an urban slum? It is characterized by three things: overcrowding, improper housing and poor sanitation. These characteristics — when paired with challenges like dirty water, smoke inhalation, malnutrition from both hunger and hidden hunger, and a great swarm of violence for the vulnerable — create a web of perpetuated poverty. Slums are not specific to one part of the world, but for those living in the developing world, one in three will live in this context.
Hope In Christmas
Thank you for your support this year! We hope you have a wonderful Christmas holiday surrounded by friends and family. Our office will be closed Dec. 24 – 25, and Jan. 1. We will have limited staff available Dec. 22 – Jan. 2. Remember, end-of-year donations must be postmarked by Dec. 31 to receive tax credit for 2014. Our co-founder Sarah Corson shares the following letter to help us all remember those who may be hurting this Christmas and the hope that we have because of Christ’s birth!
I will never forget Christmas of 1958. Ken and I were newlyweds and were working in Cuba. We had decided to adopt Isabel, a little girl who needed a home. She had begged us to kill and roast Rosita, our little pet pig, because that was the Christmas custom of Cuban families who could afford it. She was thrilled when we agreed, because she had never had a roast pig at Christmas. I washed and set her hair that afternoon, and she helped me bake Christmas cookies for the traditional Cuban Christmas Eve meal at midnight…the hour they accepted as the birth of Christ.
Then in late afternoon, our world was shattered. Relatives came and took Isabel away, carrying her from our home kicking and screaming. That was the last time we saw her for 32 years. We lost our precious little daughter. Soon afterward, the local baker knocked at the door with helpers bringing back our whole roasted pig. I burst into tears anew. “Keno,” I wailed. “I cannot eat a bite of this lechon! This was for Isabel. I don’t want to even see it! Take it away!”
Ken told the baker to set it down on the table, where the platter filled the biggest part of the table. “Wait, Sarah,” he told me and dashed out the door. Half an hour later, he returned with our car packed with people. He had brought a family with three children, whose father had left them sad and alone this Christmas. Ken went in the local bar and found a lone man trying to drink away his loneliness because his wife had left him. Ken looked for all the hurting people in our little village. As our home filled with hurting people, I had to dry my tears and try to help them have a good Christmas Eve supper. It became one of the happiest evenings we can remember…because all the hurting people tried to help the others who were hurting have a good Christmas. We sang Christmas carols. Ken read the Christmas story from the Bible. We shared and prayed together, and then at midnight, we all ate roast pig. All of us had a very special Christmas Eve, helping each other to overcome the tragedies in our lives.
God has made us so that we can help each other by sharing our pain. Somehow it does not hurt so much if we share it with someone who understands. It is a little of God’s love channeled through one in pain to another.