Compassion Aids Community After Hurricane Stan

Compassion Aids Community After Hurricane Stan

By: Gary Nowinski   |   Posted: August 16, 2007

Jenny, a single mother in El Salvador, was devastated when her home was destroyed by Hurricane Stan. But thanks to the support of Compassion donors, Jenny was among nearly 200 families whose homes were rebuilt through the Disaster Relief Fund.

Standing in the doorway of her brand-new home overlooking the beach in La Libertad, El Salvador, Jenny can't help but smile. She and her two daughters are safe, dry and living in a home they now own and she knows God provided it all!

Jenny is a perfect example of what happens when Compassion donors answer the call to help families ravaged by an unexpected crisis, and when Compassion church partners roll up their sleeves to find creative ways to help such families in need.

Through a unique partnership, the city of La Libertad and a Compassion church partner in the small community of Chilama provided Jenny and 43 other families there new or rebuilt homes after Hurricane Stan caused tremendous tragedy in October 2005. The blessing was the result of a convergence of God's people.

"God Will Provide."
"It seemed like heaven was falling down."

That's how the Rev. William Lobos described Hurricane Stan's ferocity when it ravaged this destitute, makeshift village fashioned along the banks of the Chilama River.

Lobos pastors the Prophecy Church, a Compassion church partner that operates the Compassion-assisted La Trinidad Student Center (ES-777). Hurricane Stan forced the Chilama River out of its banks, wiping out homes, families and hopes of survival. 

Thousands were left homeless. Food was scarce. Jenny and other parents of Compassion-assisted children in the area were losing all hope. With a 60 percent unemployment rate and an average family income of just U.S.$3 a day, the notion of rebuilding or repairing homes seemed impossible. And even if residents could find and afford materials to rebuild their homes, rebuilding on the same land meant they would face the same destructive threat the following winter.

But in the midst of the crisis, the Rev. Lobos offered a reassuring voice. "God will provide," he encouraged repeatedly.

And oh, how He provided!

"How Will I Do That?"
Edgar Quezada, mayor of La Libertad, knew Rev. Lobos and the work he did through Compassion's ministry. Moved by Lobos' commitment to helping poor children, the mayor decided to give nearly four acres of land to Compassion-assisted children and their families. This wasn't just an empty gesture. Just miles from the squalor of overcrowded substandard housing that populates the Chilama River area is acres of pristine, prime beach real estate. The land the mayor offered was a developer's dream - beautiful acres along a road that faces the tourist beach.

"To be honest, I said yes, you can use the land," says Edgar. "But in my mind I wondered, "How I will do that?" Because that land is the best land in the city. (It) was very desirable for many buyers."

Edgar had to convince the City Council that donating the land was a good move. It wasn't easy but finally the city agreed.

"We've Been Smiling Ever Since!"
Compassion donors provided money for building materials and necessities, city hall offered the land, the partner church managed the logistics, and the families provided the labor to build 44 new brick houses in one of the best parts of town. Jenny and the other families also received property deeds, marking the first time any of them had ever owned a home of their own.

"The Compassion project has been a great blessing to us," says Jenny. "Project workers have been like a father to my children. You have no idea how sad we were after the disaster took everything we had. And then they told us, 'Don't worry, God gave you a house for your children!' We have been smiling ever since."

Compassion donors who responded to the call for help have also helped more than 200 Compassion-assisted children and their families devastated by this disaster. In all, 192 homes were totally or partially rebuilt. And the best result 30 adults and 32 children dedicated their lives to Christ. 

Jenny marvels at her change in circumstances. Just two years ago she was living in one of the worst areas of the city. Her house had a plastic roof and her next-door neighbor was a polluted river. Now she lives in her own brick house, built on solid ground, facing a lovely peaceful beach. It's no wonder Jenny and other Compassion-assisted families now call this new place "The New Jerusalem."

What did you like about this story?