October Mission Focus:
Madre de los Pobres
Through the decades that Maryland Presbyterian Church has been bonded with our sister parish in the capital city of El Salvador, Maria Madre de los Pobres, our connection has grown ever stronger.
From the time of El Salvador’s long civil war, when Linda Koch, Branch Warfield and Ann Mathews accompanied our sisters and brothers through dangerous days, to today’s support of essential programs for children and elderly in the parish, MPC’s heart has been entwined with this shantytown parish.
The neighborhood of our sister parish is officially named La Chacra, which in English means “the farm.” It grew up along now unused railroad tracks as people from the countryside sought a place to begin anew. Today La Chacra is a hive of narrow streets and alleyways, houses of cinder block and corrugated tin leaning together along winding passageways. The neighborhood is a pocket of poverty and hope nestled precariously in a busy and corrupt city. There is joy here and there is misery…..and there is always fear of the gangs.
La Chacra, like most of El Salvador, is controlled to a great extent by gangs who daily extort and terrorize the people, and who murder at will. Yet our friends in the parish have created an extensive plan for peace, and they work for this peace daily.
El Salvador’s new leader, President Nayib Bukele, is one sign of hope to the people, who, just a few months into his first term, give him high approval ratings. Bukele’s policy toward the gangs is the “mano duro,” or “hard hand.” This is a controversial approach, one that was unsuccessful under the last president, but in a country so worn and disheartened by violence, it is an approach many feel is necessary.
Meanwhile, in the neighborhood of our friends in Maria Madre de los Pobres, children go to school, parents trek to jobs or to the streets to sell in the informal economy, and 22 young people are supported by MPC godparents. The $300 per year per child pays school fees and provides for medical and dental care, shoes, and a wide range of emergencies. Our church family also gives generously to the Open School, a parish-run program that gives children an after-school place to be safe and have fun with art, music, sports, and games. In last year’s special Christmas Gift,
MPC members gave to the parish Day Center for the Elderly, a project that is life-giving and vibrant.
The month of October is dedicated this year to the mission outreach in our sister parish. Please consider a gift to Maria Madre de los Pobres. There are envelopes in the pews.
– Mary Murray