David and Nancy Slinde Speaking at their "Sending Service"

Sunday, August 5, 2012

We met Beth and Maggie in 2010 when Maggie was a missionary with Volunteer Missionary Movement and Beth was applying for missionary status with VMM. Maggie works with a Salvadoran non profit serving children in a poor city section of Mejicanos. We lived in Mejicanos and were very interested in her work. The children are from homes of limited parental oversight, exposed too much violence, life on the streets and recruitment by gangs. Beth was a Fulbright Scholar who came to El Salvador to work in the rural community of La Joya Grande after this community experienced catastrophic flooding and mudslides that destroyed homes, lives, roads, livelihoods. Beth started a Salvadoran non profit working in disaster preparation and management for La Joya Grande. Beth and Maggie developed a program to bring these children and youth together to learn from one another. They called it a Children’s Summit, held in early summer in La Joya Grande. The children and youth of La Joya Grande led workshops on disasters, first aid and risk management. The Children’s Violence Prevention Committee of Mejicanos led workshops on children’s rights and the law for the international protection of children and adolescents. The themes covered are startling. While many U.S. children are enjoying summer programs in sports, dance, music, family vacations and other activities, the youth of El Salvador are dealing with daily issues related to abuse, crime, violence and the yearly disasters related to rains, flooding, mudslides and death. Because of the distance between each of our missionary assignments, we did not often socialize and therefore we don’t know the details of Beth and Maggie’s missionary “call”. But like all missionaries, they left home and traveled alone to an unknown, dangerous place in Central America. They developed relationships with others who worked with them in their struggle to improve the lives of the youth of El Salvador. In addition to meeting Beth and Maggie from VMM, we worked with college students from the University of Wisconsin- Madison for the past 8 years. Those early students are now long graduated and have started their careers. Six of the students working on our Rotary funded sanitation project in El Salvador are now living and working abroad. Their passion for service was kindled by the Rotary hygiene project where their hearts were touched by the people they met and the tremendous needs of people in developing countries. An 18 minute video of the January 2012 project and interview with some of the students is available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WPFaFn5ye-0 The diversity of talents and individual skills among the young missionaries and students we worked with is inspiring. They went on faith and were able to use their gifts and talents in the communities of La Joya Grande, Mejicanos and Nejapa. David y Nancy