SIFAT’s Response to the Coronavirus Outbreak
as of March 12, 2020
SIFAT has been following the CDC, the World Health Organization (WHO), the U.S. Department of State and local authorities to make decisions regarding the 2019 coronavirus (COVID-19) in Alabama and at our international project sites. We are making every effort possible to keep those participating in SIFAT’s campus programs and international projects healthy and safe, as well as our staff and the communities in which we serve abroad. SIFAT is taking a proactive approach to keep potential exposure to the virus minimal for everyone involved. We hope we do not have to make broad cancellations, but if the outbreak reaches that point, we will communicate with each group and team affected.
International Teams in Bolivia and Ecuador: In March, two of our international mission teams to Ecuador chose to err on the side of caution and postpone their trips until later this year. Currently, SIFAT staff members are reviewing U.S. government agencies’ travel guidelines regularly, communicating with our in-country directors for the most recent reports and advisements from Bolivia and Ecuador and discussing travel options with our team leaders.
Our major concern is the health and safety not only for our team members who must travel through airports and large crowds to reach their destinations, but also for the communities in which we serve. These areas may not be prepared or equipped to successfully address an outbreak of the virus. We do not want to potentially expose vulnerable villages or neighborhoods to this virus through accidental transmission from our visiting teams.
Our international team coordinator will be working with each team leader to make the best decision for that team’s trip.
Campus Programs in Alabama: Because we receive groups from throughout the Southeast, we want to ensure the safety of staff and local community, as well as our participants. At this time, we have suspended visits to our campus by international travelers until further notice.
Our normal routine of cleaning our facilities is being expanded. Our staff is taking the initiative to learn and implement the best techniques to effectively sanitize our lodging, bathrooms and cafeteria prior to groups arriving and after they depart. Additionally, daily disinfection of frequently touched objects and surfaces is being performed by our hospitality team. Frequent hand washing is being encouraged through reminders from our staff leading each group’s activities. We ask that visitors on campus follow good health hygiene recommendations from the CDC, which are being sent to group leaders prior to each group’s visit. Our campus nurse is available for consultation if someone exhibits symptoms that could be related to COVID-19.
Our campus staff is available to discuss concerns or make schedule changes for groups who wish to modify their programming.
Quesimpuco: A Renewed Motivation in Bolivia
Editor’s Note: Each month, we mail articles with our contribution statements. You can download a copy of the article to share with your church or civic organization.
March 2020, Written by SIFAT Co-founder Sarah Corson
Benjo Paredes and Ken Corson started CENATEC, a Christian nonprofit, more than 42 years ago. He has led the way to take the Gospel to thousands of Bolivians, taught seminars, helped 85 villages get clean water and helped thousands of people have more food to eat. But, the years have taken their toll.
Benjo is 80 years old now. His son Isaac had taken Benjo’s place as director of CENATEC, because Benjo was getting older and had back trouble. Some days, he could hardly walk. Dimmed eyesight. Joints swollen with arthritis. His whole body was just worn out from more than 40 years traveling a 500-mile circuit over the rugged Andes Mountains. He had given most of his life to help his people. He could do no more.
Graduate Project: Ministering in a Refugee Camp
February 2020, Written by SIFAT Co-founder Sarah Corson
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.” 2 Cor. 1:3-5
Bullen, SIFAT’s only graduate from South Sudan, recently sent a letter to SIFAT that began with this Bible verse. He knows from the core of his being what affliction means, and just as real to him is the God of all comfort.
His people have been exploited and enslaved for centuries by the Arab Northern Sudanese fighting for ivory, slaves and later, oil, against the African Southern Sudanese. Finally, South Sudan gained its freedom and joined the United Nations as the world’s 193rd nation in 2011. But in less than a year, terrible atrocities were started again, and the population in this war-torn, impoverished nation is suffering enslavement, savage acts of torture and destruction of life and property.
Merry Christmas from SIFAT!
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:11
At this time of year, we want to THANK YOU for helping SIFAT share the love of Christ to so many people around the world. We sing the song “Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year”, but without people like you that have supported SIFAT in 2019 (and for the last 40 years) with your time, talents and treasures, there would be hundreds of people around the world that look at December 25 as just another day of struggling to survive.
#GivingTuesday2019 is Dec. 3!
#GivingTuesday is coming soon! Please save the date for Dec. 3 to participate in this global holiday that celebrates generosity and kindness by giving to SIFAT. Just as Black Friday and Cyber Monday kick off the holiday buying season, #GivingTuesday starts the giving season, reminding us what this time of year is truly about! Isn’t it exciting to be part of something greater than ourselves when we join together to give back!
#GivingTuesday is a wonderful time to embrace the spirit of giving! This year, our matching fund is $60,000 – double your donation! The “rules” for #GivingTuesday are the same as previous years. When you make a donation at any time on December 3, your contribution will double because of the matching fund set up by a generous group of SIFAT donors—up to the first $60,000 that we raise!