The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


'We thought we had been forgotten'

Lutherans help Salvadorans recover from a deadly earthquake

Lutherans were present to help after an earthquake devastated El Salvador Jan. 13, killing more than 650 people, injuring nearly 2,000 and leaving thousands more homeless.

 In the disaster's aftermath, thousands of rural families slept outside and sifted through the rubble for food and clothing. For rural communities such as Tacuba, the $50,000 the ELCA sent through Action By Churches Together made a big difference.

"I've been praying for something or someone to arrive," says Tacuba farmer Articio Gomez in an interview at a relief distribution center. "We thought we had been forgotten."

But they had not been.

Local emergency committees, Lutheran World Federation regional offices and Lutheran World Relief are distributing mattresses, clothing, blankets and plastic tarps for temporary housing. "We want to reach the poorer rural communities ... communities that have suffered the most damage and have not received any assistance," says Rudelmar Bueno de Faria, director of ACT-LWF in El Salvador. That is now happening.

In San Miguel and La Libertad, nearly 500 homeless families will soon be able to rebuild with $30,000 of corrugated metal roofing material provided by LWR, with the help of $10,000 from the ELCA World Hunger Appeal. And in Santa Tecla, 16 students and two professors from Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter, Minn., altered their schedule to help roll bandages and sort through donated clothing. The students were in El Salvador for a study visit.

For Gomez the relief came at a critical time. "These past few days have been chaos," he said. "My children scream and cry with every tremor we have. But just the fact that someone has made an effort to be with us, to support us, means more than words can describe."


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Embracing diversity