Although violence was a constant threat in the rural area of El Salvador where Tanaya’s* family lived, they weren’t personally threatened, so they chose to stay in the community they knew. Understanding how to navigate social systems to find services like health care was important to Tanaya because she cared for three family members who were developmentally disabled: her older brother, her older sister and her daughter.
But then relatives in her extended family were targeted and killed by a gang and Tanaya no longer felt she could keep her family safe. They had to flee before someone in her household became the next target.
At first, Tanaya wanted to migrate to the United States, where a second brother and another daughter lived, but she knew her family members were not likely to survive the journey. She was the only one in her household who could read and write. If they got separated for any reason, the consequences would be devastating. With new regulations put into place in the U.S. in the last few years, it was doubtful the family could even make it across the border to ask for asylum.
Tanaya found temporary quarters in another village and contacted the El Salvadoran Ombudsman for Human Rights. That office referred her to Cristosal, an agency that works throughout the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Nicaragua and Guatemala to support victims of violence, providing protection for people deported from the U.S. and for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) like Tanaya and her family.
Fortunately, Cristosal was increasing its outreach at that time because of a Global Migration grant from the United Methodist Committee on Relief. While some migrants choose to leave the country, many can be moved into safer communities within El Salvador.
Your gifts on UMCOR Sunday helps support lay the foundation for the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) to share God’s love with communities everywhere.
In their home village, Tanaya supported her family by selling tortillas and food, and she also received remittances from her brother and daughter living in the U.S. Tanaya had her own house and access to the basic services her family needed, especially health care. After they evacuated, Tanaya was at a loss.
Tanaya did not feel she had a secure support network to help her relocate, which Cristosal says is a fundamental necessity in a context of widespread violence. The agency helped Tanaya see that she had more connections than she knew. Tanaya received psycho-social support to help her think through her situation step-by-step and pull together a plan that would give her long-term security. Her brother in the U.S. still had a house in El Salvador in a more urban area and her daughter was able to send money for her to buy that house.
Cristosal also helps relocated families with small grants or other forms of assistance to set up small businesses. Since Tanaya had developed such a business in her former village, she received initial start-up help to open a small grocery, which her family members also supported. Eventually, she could see the light at the end of her family’s dark tunnel. They found a congregation to join and are on their way to feeling at home in their new community.
Support for UMCOR’s Global Migration ministry allows UMCOR to act quickly to reach migrants who need urgent help to survive. A gift to UMCOR “Where Most Needed” will also increase UMCOR’s flexibility to respond quickly.
* Name changed to protect the family’s identity.
excerpt from a story by Christie R. House, consultant writer and editor for Global Ministries and UMCOR.
One of six churchwide Special Sundays with offerings of The United Methodist Church, UMCOR Sunday calls United Methodists to share the goodness of life with those who hurt. Your gifts to UMCOR Sunday lay the foundation for the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) to share God’s love with communities everywhere. The special offering underwrites UMCOR’s “costs of doing business.” This helps UMCOR to keep the promise that 100 percent of any gift to a specific UMCOR project will go toward that project, not administrative costs.
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