“Lord, if you allowed this to happen, it’s because you will give me something better.” These were the words that Rosalva expressed when she saw her home torn apart by an earthquake that hit the town of San Lorenzo, in the department of Ahuachapan, about 100 km west of the capital city San Salvador, in El Salvador.
Earlier that day, at about 1 in the morning, the town had felt a tremor. Then, at 11 a.m. of the same day, a 4.6 earthquake hit the area; this is like detonating 1,000 tons of TNT.
Rosalva worked as a baby sitter on the other side of the town, and as soon as she could, she ran home, only to see a big hole in the roof, since most of the tiles had fallen off because of the magnitude of the quake. The walls, made of adobe (a mix of clay and straw), had cracks all over, and the danger of them falling apart was evident.
Thanks to God, her family was okay, but the damages to the house were irreversible. “All four corners of my house were completely separated” says Rosalva, trying to describe how her home, a small, one-room house, had cracks so big that the corners were not together anymore.
Civil Protection, the government agency designated to evaluate damages in these situations, reported that 90 percent of the houses in the area suffered damages, and about 70 of the 200 houses of the town were declared uninhabitable.
Rosalva lived with her parents, her husband, her two children and her niece. Suddenly, all her family had to sleep in the street because the earth kept shaking, and being inside the house was too dangerous.
According to the Seismology Investigation Department of El Salvador, what occurred in the town of San Lorenzo was labeled a seismic cluster, which indicates a series of quakes centralized on an area. This particular seismic cluster lasted from December 19, 2006, until the middle of January 2007.
According to El Diario de Hoy, one of the main newspapers in El Salvador, in just three days, there were over 800 earth movements reported, even though the magnitude and frequency of those kept descending.
“I asked my pastor if I could go to the temporary shelter at the local school, and he said it was okay,” says Luz, Rosalva’s mother and caregiver of Yaquelin, Rosalva’s niece.
“So I took my children there [the shelter] and the earth kept moving, and so did they [the church staff]… my brothers and sisters did not stop, the Lord gave them the strength to keep moving” adds Luz, taking pride in being part of such a lovely church, where everybody takes care of each other in troubled times.
“The angel of the Lord stays close around those who fear Him, and He takes them out of trouble” says Luz, convinced that she trusts a powerful God.
In fact, she trusted God, as did her daughter Rosalva and her granddaughters, Yaquelin and Laura. God answered their needs, and the Church and Compassion were the tools to deliver His blessings.
“We contacted the director and told her to raise a census of all the families with children registered at the child development center who needed assistance” says Omar, Partnership Facilitator for Compassion El Salvador.
“Then, we proceeded to make a physical inspection of the damages, so we went to San Lorenzo and made home visits and took pictures to make a Complementary Intervention (CIV) request to help those families” he adds.
Complementary Interventions is a tool used to provide additional assistance to the families of the children registered in the Compassion programs, since the money received from sponsors are strictly designated to provide each child with the four main components of the program: spiritual development, health preventive and corrective measures, school reinforcement, and socio-emotional development.
Through CIV funding, the children and the church partners can receive additional help, such as construction of houses, which is the case for the Shaddai Student Center.
When the staff from Compassion went to San Lorenzo, they took a tour with Brother Omar, the pastor. Brother Omar did not have the usual look of a pastor, with a tie and suit. He had a sweaty T-shirt and a baseball cap, and his black shoes were not black anymore, they were a mix of mud brown and green. And it’s because the pastor along with the rest of the church members were already helping.
A proposal for disaster relief was sent, and two months later, it was approved and the child development center received a total of $27,245, to benefit 29 children and their families affected by the earthquake.
The proposal included a local contribution of $3,100, which was the cost of labor. The families of the children committed to work in the construction of the houses to save the $3,000 needed. Brother Omar kept the muddy shoes on, as well as all the student center staff, and helped the families to reconstruct their homes.
“Some months before we had the blessing from God to get a little piece of land” says Rosalva. But they did not have enough money to build a house and move out of her mother’s house. After the earthquake, Rosalva had the blessing of having her own house built on that land, and her mother Luz Maria also had her house rebuilt.
Since the local government promised to provide the affected families with aluminum sheets and plastic to build provisional shelters, the disaster relief from Compassion was used to build cement walls, and the materials provided by the government were used for roofs. The money was not enough to put in floors, so the houses had dust floors.
Laura and Yaquelin were two of the children who kept receiving blessings from the Lord, through their sponsors. Laura and Yaquelin received family gifts from their sponsors, which was enough to put tile floors to both houses. Laura also got a bed, and Yaquelin got a bike as well.
They are two of the 186 children assisted at the Shaddai Student Center.
Yaquelin and Laura have not forgotten the fear they felt, but now they are two happy cousins with big dreams in their hearts. Most likely, one of them runs to the other’s house and they go to the child development center together.
Laura’s mother, Rosalva, now works at the Compassion child development center, giving school reinforcement to the children, and helping them with their homework. A total a 31 children and their families were assisted. These families trusted God, stayed close to Him, and he took them out of trouble.