August 2021: Ecuador’s Children – the Hidden Pandemic

Editor’s Note: Each month, we mail an article with our contribution statements to the previous month’s donors. Click here to download a PDF version.

Written by Roberto and Monica Contreras, SIFAT Ecuador directors

School closures have affected 4.6 million children in Ecuador. There are children and adolescents who are in vulnerable conditions in their homes and face threats such as maltreatment and sexual abuse.

According to official statistics, 1 in 10 women in Ecuador was a victim of sexual abuse as a child or adolescent. More than half of the 17 million Ecuadorians are women.

The actual level of child abuse is more serious than official statistics reveal, as 1 in 4 victims in Ecuador “never” reported it. The victims remained silent out of fear of the consequences, out of shame, out of helplessness or out of fear of threats.

At several of our project sites in Quito, including Velasco pictured above, workshops for children and youth were held recently to combat sexual abuse. Please pray for these Ecuadorian children—the hidden victims of the pandemic.

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July 2021: An Update from Isaiah in the DRC

Editor’s Note: Each month, we mail an article with our contribution statements to the previous month’s donors. Click here to download a PDF version.

Written by Sarah Corson, SIFAT Co-founder

SIFAT’s graduate Isaiah Chot has worked for years rescuing children who were kidnapped and forced to become child soldiers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Because they have been brainwashed to kill and experienced unimaginable trauma, it is hard to rehabilitate them. Their own families are afraid of them and often do not want them to return. Isaiah started a rehabilitation ministry for these former child soldiers and other abandoned, hopeless children. Dedicated volunteers joined his effort, showing the children God’s love as they taught job training and life skills.

Beginning in 2017, SIFAT helped Isaiah finish his vocational school buildings, so they could accept homeless youth who had no other hope of finding a better life. SIFAT Graduates’ Projects (GPC) also worked with Isaiah to buy a cement block making machine both as  a teaching tool for the students and as a business they could use to help make the school sustainable. Now, they are able to accept 50 students each session. These youth work together learning and practicing farming/gardening, so that there is food for all of them, as well as some to sell for their other needs. Isaiah says they are taught the principles of gardening that he learned from SIFAT’s expert gardener, John Carr. This knowledge is constantly being passed on to others and has brought hope and freedom from hunger to hundreds in Isaiah’s programs. The school is staffed with dedicated professional teachers, as well as community volunteers, who help the students one-on-one. They have added courses in business, construction/masonry, tailoring/sewing, welding, food preservation and other classes teaching skills that their communities need.

Young students visit the garden.

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Uganda: Agape Needs Our Help!

Agape Total Childcare Center, the orphanage and school SIFAT mission teams built in Uganda, has been hit hard in recent weeks by COVID-19. Although Uganda had been spared during much of last year, it has now been declared a Level 4 country by the U.S. State Department and CDC because the disease is spreading rapidly. The Ugandan government has declared a lockdown, and most students in boarding schools have been unable to return home to their families. At Agape, three of our original children (now young adults) are currently in the hospital, and several more have tested positive with COVID. In the close dormitory conditions in which they live, it is very hard to isolate and quarantine those with symptoms. Although WHO safety protocol is being adhered to as much as possible, the virus continues to spread. Funds are desperately needed for food, medicines, hospital care and to replenish sanitizers and masks.

Prior to this outbreak, Agape implemented COVID-19 protocols to keep everyone healthy. Here early in the pandemic, the students in the secondary school have the temperature taken by the school nurse (an Agape graduate) before entering the classrooms.

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June 2021: Summer at SIFAT

Editor’s Note: Each month, we mail an article with our contribution statements to the previous month’s donors. Click here to download a PDF version. This month, we share about summer at SIFAT in Alabama this year – Worship on the Water and Learn & Serve Retreats!

Written by Marie Lanier, Promotions and Marketing Coordinator

Worship on the Water 2021

The summer season has kicked off in Alabama! From Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day Weekend, SIFAT sponsors Worship on the Water (WOW) for our local community and visitors to Lake Wedowee. A guest speaker and musician/musical group lead the service, which starts at 9 a.m. and lasts about an hour. We meet under the pine trees on the shore of the lake at Lakeside Marina, just north of downtown Wedowee on US Highway 431. After postponing and eventually making the difficult decision to cancel last summer, it has been a breath of normalcy to return to our Sunday morning tradition.

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May 2021: Meeting Immediate Needs in Ecuador

Editor’s Note: Each month, we mail an article with our contribution statements to the previous month’s donors. Click here to download a PDF version. We began SIFAT Doctor in your House/The Golden Bread in response to needs in the communities in which we serve in Ecuador because of the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. To see all of our previous updates about these programs, click here.

Written by Marie Lanier, Promotions and Marketing Coordinator

When we first heard of COVID-19, we optimistically believed that our international mission teams would be postponed for a few months, and we would reorganize before too long to serve alongside our SIFAT graduates. As we realized the severity of this novel virus and its ability to spread, we were forced to make difficult decisions to protect our team members, staff, translators and the communities in which we serve. Here in the United States now, our daily lives are being minimally impacted by the virus. We may be required to wear a mask or need to self quarantine after a known exposure. Great strides have been made in treatment, and free vaccines are available for those who choose to have them. No, the pandemic is not over for us, but we have many resources available.
But this is not the case for our friends in Ecuador. On April 23, a new month-long order went into effect that includes a weekend curfew from 8 p.m. on Friday night until 5 a.m. Monday morning, as well as a nightly curfew during the week for the same times. Driving between provinces is restricted, working from home is encouraged and excessive fines continue to be imposed for those not wearing masks in public, attending large gatherings and breaking curfew.

The Golden Bread provides food for families who do not have enough to eat.

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