Ministry Highlight: El Limonal

Nine years ago El Limonal was just a dusty cotton field located between the Chinandega city dump and a local cemetery. After Hurricane Mitch in 1998, the land was opened up for refugees of the disaster who were looking for a new place to live. Today about 270 families reside in the various houses of wood, corrugated metal and black sheet plastic that line the community's five principal dirt roads. Many children and adults in the community visit the dump daily, risking their health to search among the smoldering trash for things to sell.

Oswaldo Bonillo, pastor of the El Shaddai church, decided to come along side the residents of this struggling community and begin a church with a community outreach emphasis, which is now lead by Pastor Crespin. Pastor Oswaldo recruited a local young Christian woman, Fatima, to help lead the Community Health Evangelism (CHE) program, a wholistic strategy to addressing physical and spiritual needs in communities. "We're not going to tell you to leave. We're going to help you improve your community," Pastor Oswaldo announced.

Fatima and a team of community health promoters and staff from The Nehemiah Center work together to organize the community, visit people in their homes, and provide teaching on basic preventative health principles as well as spiritual encouragement. She also developed a relationship with the local public health officials to bring basic medical services to El Limonal, like rehydration solutions, malaria tests, and basic injections. Meanwhile, teams came through FH to help build latrines and improve basic sanitation in the community.

The church's wholistic vision continues, heading up community activities including providing lunch three times a week to children, pregnant women, and the elderly in El Limonal.

During the past year, FH staff Mike and Maria Saeli have come alongside Pastor Crespin and Fatima to support their ministry in El Limonal by facilitating the development of sustainable organic house gardens, sharing Biblical principles, praying with families, and working to improve the health of the community.

While trash still burns in the nearby dump, today there is a thriving vegetable garden in Fatima's patio; a garden that represents the hope growing in El Limonal.

(Portions of this report are taken directly from the Food for the Hungry-Nicaragua website.)


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