By Bruce A. McDowell, Minister of Global Outreach
Tenth has been involved with building and supporting Hogar la Providencia, a children’s home and foundation in Santa Marta, Colombia, since 2003. Members Susana and Marcela Hormann recently returned from teaching there. Numerous short-term teams have served there to help in its ministry to largely indigenous children who come from extreme poverty, lack of adequate food and clothing, no education or healthcare, and abusive family situations. Through the residential and educational ministry at the Hogar, most of the residents have come to faith in Christ. Many have graduated from high school, some becoming the first school teachers in their Chimila village.
The Social Welfare Department of Santa Marta, Colombia, is prohibiting the Hogar from housing indigenous children, as the government does not want them to “lose their culture.” So six of the Chimila kids who had been at the Hogar building are now living in rooms at nearby La Puerta Reformed Church, where global partner Jaime Leal pastors. They are studying at a public high school near the church. Fifteen younger kids were relocated and are still being supported living back in their small Chimila village. Funds being sent are used to support these children with food, uniforms, school supplies, and utilities. Ester, who grew up in the Hogar, now teaches them Bible in their village. Many more Chimila kids want to join in the opportunity for a high school education and support. They are waiting for more room to be prepared. Pastor Edison Florez is discipling four teenage Chimila youth, with hope that one will become a pastor for their community. Although the Hogar is no longer housing the Chimilas, the ministry continues and the building is being fully used.
At the Hogar building, the John Calvin School (K–9th grade) has enrolled 240 kids, 89 of whom are in extreme need and high risk. Many of the kids come from dysfunctional families and have many problems stemming from cases of abuse, rape, abandonment, suicidal thoughts, and autism. Only 30% of the kids’ parents are paying the $16/month school fees. There are 15 teachers; some are paid and some are volunteers, given $20/month for transportation. Devotions are held every day at the school with the kids, while teachers meet twice a week for prayer. School runs from 6:30 am to 12:30 pm. In the afternoon they have sports and training in baking, art, music, and making musical instruments—such as a cajon—using recycled items and PVC pipe. Soccer matches with other schools are on holidays and Saturdays. At the bakery, which is also rented as a restaurant to bring in income for the Hogar, baker Solomon is teaching kids to make bread, cookies, and cakes. Other lessons are in guitar, keyboard, and choir.
Because of the large influx of new students, the school needs more classroom space, so they are building additional rooms at the back wall of the compound. Some repairs to the main building from a minor earthquake still need to be completed. This past week lab desks, stools, tables, and video projectors were donated to the school by a university in Bogota. Above the bakery/restaurant they plan on building small apartments that will provide income to help with self-sustainability. A Presbyterian church plant at the Hogar meets Sunday afternoons. They hope to build a chapel for the church and school between the main Hogar building and the bakery. It is their prayer that the children will be the future members of the church.
The Hogar leadership feels an urgency to reach out to adolescent pregnant girls in the area. Many 11 to 14-year-old pregnant girls are kicked out of their homes with no opportunity to continue in school. They would like to enable these girls to get an education by providing child care and instruction on how to raise a child at the Hogar.
The Outreach budget supports work such as Hogar la Providencia, and the Global Outreach Commission may send additional “undesignated” funds from the Outreach Budget to meet urgent and important needs. You are encouraged to designate your giving to the Outreach Budget, which as of the end of July was $16,969 behind last year at this time; not counting an increase in 2016 of 4.4% over the 2015 budget.