On Wednesday morning at 6:30 I met up with my compassion contact, Omar, and we headed out for the first child visit. From my guesthouse we had to take a taxi, two trolleys, and a three hour bus ride in order to reach the city of Santo Domingo.
Santo Domingo is a big, bustling city that does not have the greatest reputation. It is growing so quickly that there has not been time for the infrastructure to keep up. There are also a lot of people who have emigrated from Columbia and are now using the city as a center for drug distribution and money laundering. In the middle of Santo Domingo is the church, Iglesia Del Pacto Evangelico Del Ecuador, which operates Compassion project EC-182.Each Compassion project is a little different in how they minister to the needs of the children. This project is in the middle of town and operates 5 days/week. There are two sessions every day, a morning session for those who attend the public schools in the afternoon, and an afternoon session for those who attend school in the morning. When the children come to the project they get nutritious food, tutoring for their studies, Biblical education, and a safe place to play.
There are two computers and a small library where the kids can study. They also get regular medical checkups and help with any medical expenses. Because Elian was born with a malformation in the front right lobe of his brain he has some learning difficulties and is more susceptible to illnesses. Thorough the project, he has been able to get treatment for his illnesses, regular medicine, and recently he has started going to a special school. The school he now attends is brand new and is especially for children with special needs in an attempt to help the teachers understand how to teach them.
The director of the Compassion project that Elian attends is Monica, the pastor’s wife. This was my second time to meet her and I was impressed by her love and concern for each of the children. As we went through the church she would bend down and talk to the children and give them individual attention. She knew each child and cared for them all.
Monica and Her Daughter
I got to spend a great day with Elian and his family visiting them. It was so good to see him again and to see how he has grown.
There is something special about meeting a child in his own city and home. Writing letters helps start the relationship, but being able to look in their eyes, and hold their hand while you walk through their neighborhood is something that will change you forever. We went to lunch at the local food court in the mall, Elian had KCF and we had Chinese.
Afterwards I got to participate in a birthday celebration at the project where they were celebrating all of the Maya and June birthdays (including Elian’s).
Next we visited Elian’s brother William during his break at school…
During our visit at the church I was able to learn more about Elian and his family. Elian’s’ mother was married a twice times but her first husband was killed in a gang shooting, and her second husband left her for another woman. The family now lives in the house of the maternal grandmother who supports them financially. The grandmother is from Columbia and was also married twice. She had many children in the first marriage and only Elian’s mom in the second. The other children, especially the sons are very upset that Elian’s family is getting the house as they feel it should go to them. These uncles have been coming around, bothering the family and threatening the kids. The mother did not report it until the verbal threats became physical abuse. They are now in a legal process to try and resolve the situation. However the Uncle has also filed a complaint that Elian’s mom is not a good mother. Because of all o f the verbal and then physical abuse, Elian’s brother William was so overwhelmed that he drank some cleaning chemicals in an attempt to end it all. His mom brought him to the hospital and he is now doing better, but there is still a big weight on this 12 year old “man of the house.” He is brilliant and was doing exceptionally well in school, but because of the family situation his grades have been suffering.
Please be praying for their family. The root of their problems is that their family does not have a relationship with Jesus Christ. Elian and William have been attending church services and learning more, but Elian’s mom does not and although she says she is a Christian, there is no fruit in her life. I beg for your prayers for the entire family, but especially for William, that he would know the love of his heavenly father and that he would understand his worth in the eyes of God.