Waving the White Flag

El Salvador continues to live life under lockdown. On May 7th, president Nayib Bukele further increased restrictions on movement in an effort to curb an uptick in COVID-19 cases. Public transportation was suspended and all private companies allowed to remain open need to provide private transportation for their workers. Additionally, residents are only allowed to leave their homes on specific days that are determined by the last digit of their government issued ID, and are only permitted to travel to the nearest grocery store, bank, or pharmacy.

While support remains strong for Bukele and his fight against the coronavirus, many Salvadorans are struggling to survive as resources run low. The government continues to distribute food baskets, even into remote parts of the country, but meeting everyone’s needs is a difficult task. Many Salvadorans work in the informal economy which has all but disappeared. Taking a cue from their Guatemalan neighbors, some Salvadorans have started hanging white flags outside their house signaling that they are in need of food.

Love and Hope is fortunate that our donor base has been so supportive during this difficult time. We’ve been able to continue to pay our staff, the children have been able to continue their school work, and we’ve been able to continue assisting the families of the children with food baskets and other necessities. But as the needs in El Salvador grow, we feel called to do more. As Salvadorans begin waving the white flags, we want the body of Christ to be the one who answers their call.

The Union Church is an english speaking body made up of missionaries, expats, and locals “following Jesus in Grace and Truth.” We’ve been members there for over a decade. The church property is adjacent to a low-income neighborhood of about 210 homes known as the Mascota Community. The Union Church has worked with the Mascota Community for years: running kids clubs, scholarship programs for the youth, and helping with community improvement projects. Many in the Mascota community are currently out of work and running out of resources. The church has partnered with the leadership in the community to identify the families most in need. The easiest way to help is to provide food.

At current prices, a basket of food costs about $16 and will support an average family for 7-10 days. A basket contains:

  • 4 pounds of beans: $3.60
  • 4 pounds of rice: $2.40
  • 2 pounds of corn rice: $1.20
  • 2 pounds of sugar: $1.20
  • 1 pound of salt: $0.15
  • 1 bottle of oil: $1.75
  • 1 bag of powder milk (350gr): $2.50
  • 2 packs of spaghetti (200grs each): $1.24
  • 1 bag of oatmeal (200gr) $0.69
  • 1 bag of tomato sauce: $1.62

Love and Hope will be contributing 10 baskets to start, and we’d love to invite you to provide a basket too! Our hope is that through its network of missionaries and expats the Union Church can provide for our neighbors during this difficult time.

You can donate on our website and the money will be transferred directly to the Union Church to help provide these baskets.

As always, we cannot thank you enough for your support. Next week we’ll be talking about how we’ve been supporting the families of the children in Love and Hope during this time and how you can help with those efforts. If you have any questions about providing food baskets, or are interested in other ways you can help during this time, please email us: contact@loveandhopechildrenshome.com.

Quarantine Continues

El Salvador is now 6 weeks into a lockdown that was originally planned for just a month. During this time the virus has continued to spread, but at a very slow rate. As of May 1st, El Salvador had just 446 confirmed cases and 10 deaths. During the nationwide quarantine, the government has been upgrading and improving all the hospitals in the country and working to secure and deliver medical supplies. If you’re interested, you can track El Salvador’s COVID-19 stats at https://covid19.gob.sv

It has been difficult for many people in the country, but Salvadorans are largely united behind their president and the fight against COVID-19. Even before they became mandatory, nearly everyone was wearing masks when making one of their limited excursions out of the house for groceries or medicine. Likewise, most businesses that have been allowed to remain open offer hand sanitizer to use at the door. Some even take temperatures upon entry. However, like many people around the world, Salvadorans are anxious to get back to work and some semblance of a normal life.

Our staff have been exceptional during this very unusual time. The office staff works on-site one day a week and packs everything they can into that single day. The rest of the week they work from home communicating via email and text to keep everything running. And our kids continue to receive counseling through video calls. The caregiving staff is working one week on and one week off in order to limit travel and exposure. Can you imagine being locked in a house with a group of teenagers for a whole week!?

While the schools may be closed, class is still in session. All of our kids have had to adjust to remote learning as they juggle computer time and online calls with the rest of the house. Assignments are completed via email, through an online learning platform, or sometimes just printed out and sent with a picture via WhatsApp! Between classes during the day, and Netflix at night, our poor internet connection never gets a break!

After being stuck in the house for so long, most of our kids are eager to get back to life as usual. Even getting up for school, or heading out to a doctor’s appointment sound like fun. But a few of our kids are enjoying the slower pace of life and embracing their inner introvert.

One treat for the boys has been a lack of haircuts. Most of the schools are very strict about hair length, so during vacations they often let their hair grow wild. Quarantine has been no exception. We expect many barbers will make up for lost business when El Salvador goes back to school.

To break up the days and add a little something for everyone to look forward to, we’ve turned Saturday night into Take-out night! The kids (and staff!) eagerly await the weekend as each house gets to choose their own meals. Popular picks are Papa John’s, Pizza Hut, KFC, and the neighborhood burger joint, Charlie Boy. We’ve had donors generously treat everyone each week during quarantine. The kids are already asking if this is a tradition we’ll keep going once the quarantine is over! If you’d like to sponsor a Saturday night dinner, just get in touch via email.

We so much appreciate your continued support during this time. The work Love and Hope does would not be possible without you.