COLONEL ROBIN FORSYTH, Territorial Commander, talks with nineteen-year-old Francis, a patient in a Honduran hospital.
BY DON McDOUGALD,
LT. COLONEL –
The Salvation Army is at work in the Central American countries of Honduras and El Salvador. With funds distributed through SAWSO, these two countries have seen houses, bridges, latrines and retaining walls constructed since Hurricane Mitch and the earthquake in 1999.
Honduras, the 108th country in which The Salvation Army is at work, is poor with the average income about $100 a month. The capital, Tegucigalpa (which means Mountain of Silver), is the largest city and has a population of over one million people.
At the Materno Infantil Hospital in Tegucigalpa, The Salvation Army has an education program for 108 youngsters. No other provision is made to continue the education of children when they enter the hospital and an extended illness places them far behind children their own age. SAWSO provided a grant of $40,000 a year for two years of classes in the hospital. This pays for two teachers and supplies for this critical work.
One boy, Francis, has been in the hospital for six years with a deteriorating kidney disease. He is on dialysis and the disease has affected his size. Although he looks about 10 years old, he is actually 19. Other children were in the classroom with syringes taped to their arms for intravenous injections. Several were in wheelchairs and all had visible signs of medical work. The Salvation Army is the only means of continuing their education during their stay in the hospital.
Sunday worship services were in a home church, in a courtyard that is actually the car park. The singing was enthusiastic, with timbrels accompanying the praise choruses. After a time of prayer, the Territorial Commander, Colonel Robin Forsyth was presented, followed by the visiting Americans. This was a special day with the enrollment of four new soldiers and five Home League members.
After the Territorial Commander’s message, four people came forward to accept the Lord. One was a lady who was earlier enrolled as a Home League member. In this new church community, decisions for Christ are made every week and new people find out about Ejército de Salvacion.
El Salvador has also received SAWSO funds for housing and other emergency services. This country’s poverty is striking-most dwellings outside the city are one room adobe or concrete block structures.
The town of Usulatan houses the SAWSO development program headquarters. The program selects a community that needs housing and assesses the community to find those most in need. Once selected, they must be willing to give at least 10 days of work on the project to receive a house. Over 350 homes have been built and requests have come from other communities for at least 400 more.
The village of Colonia Josselyn is named for a young girl killed in the earthquake. The village lies on a volcanic mountain and the houses constructed by SAWSO stretch down the mountainside. Compared to the metal shacks and lean-tos that these people typically call home, the new SAWSO houses are a heavenly improvement.
In these tropical countries, the lifestyle of the officers is simple. There are none of the trappings of materialism. By sharing our wealth with others through World Services, we improve the lot of our world neighbors and lead many to the Lord.