Our Visit to El Salvador

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					                           Notes from SARA
                                                Sharing America’s Resources Abroad…May 2004
A program of the Ohio Conference • United Church of Christ • 6161 Busch Blvd., Ste. 95 • Columbus OH 43229 • www.ocucc.org/SARA/sara.htm

Our Visit to El Salvador
By John and Joyce Gilberg, SARA Board Members

         A delegation of eleven persons visited El Salvador from April 14th through April 21st. We were on a fact
finding mission for SARA and guests of the CRD in El Salvador. The CRD is The Committee for the Recon-
struction and Development of El Salvador and is a non governmental, non profit organization that helps the poor
of this country.
         El Salvador- A COUNTRY OF MANY FACES! These beautiful faces are attached to many hungry
children and their mothers, living in small corrugated tin houses. Their homes have dirt floors, and chickens run
in and out at will because of lack of doors. There are no sanitary facilities, and the only water now available for
the whole village runs from a one-inch water hose hooked to one single spigot. A few fathers were present, but
most were working as garbage collectors or at other menial tasks such as working in the twelve hour a day sweat
shops where they earn about $140 per month.
         The children and mothers loved to have their pictures taken with our digital cameras because we could
show them their picture instantly. This brought many children to us and brought smiles to their faces. Other
faces were of a young doctor, of other health workers and of student nurses who were working in the simple
clinic provided them by the CRD. On the day we were there, mothers’ eyes were being tested with the standard
eye charts, temps were being taken, and medical checks were being made. Our presence was appreciated be-
cause we brought medicines, toys and personal care items. We wish we could have brought more. This is a
description of only one of the poor villages that we visited.
Life Isn’t Fair
By Lana Sakash, SARA Board Member

        Usually you hear this from your children in the
form of, “It just isn’t fair”, when you don’t allow them to
do something that all their friends are doing. Perhaps you
have even said or felt it yourself when you don’t get
something that you felt you deserved. I found myself
feeling it often during the recent fact finding mission to
El Salvador. One of the times that it hit me was when I
learned that the makela (factory) workers earn $6.00 per
12-hour day to make clothes that we buy at cheaper
prices here in the U.S. Personally, I would prefer to pay
$3 or $4 more per item if it would mean a fair wage for
those who labor to make it. Businesses move their
operations out of the U.S. to cut costs, but is it fair to be the kind of neighbor that prospers at the cost of hurting

       Another time the fairness issue hit me was when we visited the newspaper office of Co Latino, an inde-
pendent paper. Their offices have been bombed and set on fire in attempts to silence them. We take it for granted
that we are allowed to disagree and speak out against government policies.

         However, the time that the fairness issue hit me the hardest was when we visited the mangela (mangrove
trees). In this community near El Espino, we went out in a boat on the seaway to find these children who work
daily digging clams in the mangroves. These children work from early morning till the afternoon digging clams to
be sold to restaurants in San Salvador. They get $.25 for 4 clams. BettyAnn Larson, who along with her late
husband, has been working to improve conditions in El Salvador for many years, was with us in the boat. She
called to the children (niños) to come out to talk with us.

        One little boy, Jose Miguel Rodriguez, slowly emerged from the tangled roots of the mangrove trees. He
is 9 years old. He does not attend school because he must work to help support his family – his mother, two
brothers and a sister. His sister and one brother were also working back in the mangroves this day. He said his
mother could not afford to send them to school as there is a $25.00 registration fee per child, and they must wear
uniforms to school.

        Two student reporters from Co Latino were also with us in the boat. While one was interviewing Jose, he
said they have to smoke while they are digging to help keep the insects and snakes away. He said he gets sick
and throws up when he smokes. One of the group members, wanting to help, offered him some money, but he
refused it, saying that he is not allowed to take money from people. He had only collected 8 clams this day for
his morning’s work of 4 or 5 hours.

       Across the water from where these children are digging for daily sustenance is a huge, new mansion. The
contrast is startling!

        We told Jose there would be a program and a fiesta at the school and invited him to come. He did not
think he would be allowed.

       One of the reporters left the boat to go back into the mangroves to interview other children working who
were too shy to come out to talk. She returned after 30 minutes with at least 20 mosquito bites on her face and
many more on her arms. The children work in there for hours every day.
        We left there with heavy hearts and a determination to do something to help these children and their

        We made it back to the school after a home visit – another story for another time – for the welcoming
program for our group. Imagine our surprise when almost the first children we saw were Jose, with his brother
Martin, age 8, and Moises, age 3! Jose and Martin had washed the black mud from themselves and were cleaned
up for the little fiesta. We were so happy they were able to come and enjoy a sandwich, juice and some candy
from the piñata.

        These children grabbed our hearts, and SARA wants to help improve the life conditions for Jose’s family
and the others who live in this situation. We hope that others will feel the same and be willing to donate funds for
this project. If you are willing to help, please send your donations to the Conference office. Put Children of the
Mangroves in the memo section of your check so it will be used specifically for that project. You will be hearing
more on this project in future newsletters!

     Together, with God’s love in our hearts, we can help life be a little more “fair” for others in the world.
Remember these children and all who suffer daily in your prayers.

           SARA Continues To Expand Its Mission Efforts To Other Countries
               Join SARA In Helping People To Help Themselves
                     Contribute to SARA… A Mission Program of the
                           Ohio Conference of the United Church of Christ

El Salvador
By Sally Wissman, St. Paul UCC, New Bremen, Ohio

                                                  I was one of 11 fortunate people representing S.A.R.A. on a fact
                                                  finding mission to El Salvador. We were guests of the CRD, a
                                                  committee for the reconstruction and development of El Salvador.
                                                  The CRD provides resources to help build clinics and schools for
                                                  the less fortunate of this country.

                                                  We visited many very poor villages, and each one touched my heart
                                                  in many different ways. The people we met were all so loving and
                                                  generous even though they have so little.

                                                 In the village of Tahuapa, the children welcomed us with signs and a
                                                 rose. We visited a new clinic there. Most of these clinics have little
                                                 or no medicine. This particular clinic was empty when we arrived.
Our gifts of medicine and supplies will make a big difference to the residents of Tahuapa. I only wish we could have
given them ten times more.

When we left, they also gave each of us a bag of fruit. This fruit is grown and sold to make some income for the
village. They have so little, but they were eager to share all that they had.

The light of God’s love surely brightens the difficult path that our friends in El Salvador must tread. It was an ex-
treme privilege to help carry His lamp.
El Salvador? Where’s That?
By Larry and Ann Kuhn, SARA Board Members

        What did we know about El Salvador? Quite frankly—very little. That is, until we met Betty Ann
Larson (a SARA Board member). She shared with us her love for these people and the conditions in which they
live. She described them as “the poorest of the poor.”
        We visited El Salvador recently on a fact finding tour, and we experienced first hand the struggles of the life
of these people. We feel that by joining hands with others we can help make small differences in many of the poor
places we visited. There is no way to take people for medical attention because of the terrible road conditions.
        Our personal goal is to help gather enough funds to supply several good ambulances with four wheel
drive to the these remote areas. Together we can help.

A Message from the Board of Directors of SARA

Come Join Us in Sharing America’s Resources Abroad
For 15 years SARA (Sharing America’s Resources Abroad) has provided medical and spiritual assistance to thousands of
needy children and adults throughout the world. From orphanages and hospitals in Ukraine, Hungary, Zaire, & Serbia, to
social service agencies in El Salvador and the Marshall Islands, SARA has been there. We bring doctors from struggling
countries to the U.S. to learn surgical techniques so that they can go back to their countries and provide to the thousands
of those who need this help in their country. In a way truly teaching people to “fish” following the Biblical model.

We provide medicine and treatment in many places where there is a terrible shortage, and we often have to bring individu-
als to the United States to enable them to get help. Or occasionally we have to bring an individual to this country for

Eugene is a 16-year-old boy from the Ukraine who was electrocuted and had both of his arms blown off when he came in
contact with a high voltage line. Thanks to your gifts through SARA, he is now in Cincinnati receiving treatment and
prosthesis that will enable him to have a full and productive life. This is just one story of thousands of needy individuals
that we could share with you. In the whole state of Transcarpathia in western Ukraine there is no orphanage for boys, so
they are left to beg throughout the region. We are presently raising funds to build an orphanage for these boys.

Many of our Ohio Conference churches and members have been generous supporters of SARA through the years, but
every time we go on mission trips to offer help we discover more children in need. Especially in these turbulent times in
the world, we need to have organizations that bridge the differences between cultures, that bring healing, love and hope
and the possibility for understanding and peace. Your help can make a real difference now!

For the first time, we are offering membership in SARA to enable you to hear first-hand about and help with our work.
Please fill out the attached form indicating your level of support and take the membership card. Within a week after
receiving your membership donation, we will send you a certificate of membership. All members of SARA will receive
our newsletter regularly, providing information about individuals we are helping and opportunities to go on mission trips to
assist us.

Lana, Larry, and John just got back from a SARA mission trip to El Salvador. Look for their heart-rending stories on
other pages in this special edition of Notes from SARA.

So please JOIN SARA TODAY. Join us in Sharing America’s Resources Abroad, because the need is great and we are
called to minister to all.

God Bless You...
The Board of Directors of SARA
        SARA Announces September 2004 Trip to The Ukraine
There will be a small “hands on” work group going to the Ukraine September 8-23, 2004. Any-
one who is interested in teaching English to students and teachers is welcome to join us. Lana
Sakash and Rev. Diane Thomas will be in charge of the teaching positions. Marty Siegel and
Kathy Waller will be working with the Children in the orphanage, at the gypsy camp, and at an
institution in Uzhgorod doing health education, screenings and occupational therapy.
The Cost for the trip is approximately $1600, which includes airfare from Detroit, transportation,
room and board in the Ukraine. If you are interested in this trip or have questions, please call
the Ohio Conference office at 1-800-282-0740, Lana Sakash at 419-927-2836 or Marty Siegel at

Editor: Notes From SARA: Ralph C. Quellhorst, Ohio Conference, 6161 Busch Blvd. Suite 95, Columbus, Ohio 43229

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