Visiting Volunteers Inspire Local Collaboration
Thousands of volunteers traveling during summer months to foreign countries on short term mission trips do make a difference. While many have questioned the efficiency, costs, and abundant faux pas in these efforts, there is often an unmeasured effectiveness in stirring the heart of local government and community members. As a school, family, or child in need is assisted through an act of kindness by a total stranger, their community must witness and process this mind-boggling action. While many dismiss the action as a self-fulfilling act by financially blessed people groups, there are always a few inspired to love their neighbor a little more like they love themselves.
Last month Third Lens ministry partner, Salvadoran Foundation, La Casa de Mi Padre hosted several summer mission teams. Each team participated in various activities including construction projects to further develop opportunities for abandoned and abused children served daily by ongoing activities of this organization. Basketball courts, horse riding rings, and multi-purpose shaded pavilions are in progress to strengthen the therapeutic activities needed in the lives of young people who rarely have seen a playground or open space wider than a sidewalk.
Situated in the municipality of Santo Tomas, this new property is on the outskirts of capital city San Salvador. On my trip in the closing days of June, I had the privilege to meet Santo Tomas mayor, Efrain Cañas. Having witnessed the work of this organization and the visiting volunteers, Mayor Cañas invited all of his department heads in to listen to the upcoming construction plans to house over 60 children needing a refuge due to the breakdown of the family. As these appointed local officials listened to La Casa E.D. Gary Powell, I could see it caused them to reflect on the needs of their neighbor and reinvigorated them to lend a hand in getting things done for the healing and growth of their municipality’s children and families.
Inspiration passed to local government cannot be measured, but it proves to be a strong tool to change lives in these places of great need. If only a few local authorities act on that inspiration it could be the difference that affects thousands of children in this marginalized municipality. Consider the next service trip and how intentional gestures can be a part of inspiring this community and building towards a more permanent change.