In early November 2020, the lives of all of those in the village of Queja drastically changed. Heavy rains caused a landslide that tore through the village, destroying homes and taking lives. After the immediate need of food, clothing, and temporary shelter was met, it was time to start again. With pain in their hearts and anguish from all that was lost, they set up a new village, New Queja, in an uninhabited area that was just used to grow crops. After the immediate disaster relief, more long- term partnership and support were needed. During the initial help that ASOSAP provided, the villagers began to trust us. This opened doors for us to partner with them further. They didn’t have just physical needs, but emotional and spiritual needs as well.
God used ASOSAP and all of you who partner with us, to begin restoring the villagers lives in a wholistic manner. ASOSAP focused on three projects:
- Post-disaster Nutrition
- Community Education – health, hygiene, and Biblical truths
- Physical projects – latrines and improved wood cookstoves
Let’s have a closer look into the successes of these projects.
Post Disaster Nutrition Project:
With the upheaval of the landslide, families struggled to feed themselves and the most vulnerable, children aged 6 months – 4 years old, suffered. ASOSAP identified fifty children, who were the most at risk with severe and moderate malnutrition, to participate in this project.
For one year (July 2021 – July 2022) these children were given supplemental nutrition and their growth was monitored. They also received health check-ups and treatment to avoid weight loss from acute illness. Their mothers were educated on topics such as nutrition and common illnesses. Our goal was to empower them to take control of their circumstances rather than being victims of them. We did home visits to ensure that they were preparing the supplemental nutrition correctly and that their homes were a clean and safe environment for their children to heal. This also gave us the opportunity to encourage, counsel, and listen to the women one-on-one.
- The mothers applied what they learned and are really grateful for the support
- The children thrived in every sense of the word
- None of the children are severely malnourished and many now have normal weight and length
- Instead of being stunted as happens when a child continues in malnutrition for an extended period, now their physical growth and mental development can continue.
On an emotional and spiritual level, this project brought light to these New Queja families and peace as they experienced their children being brought back to health.
Due to the trust that had been established, the families sought out ASOSAP’s advice and help for various situations in the community. It became clear to us that appropriate knowledge would help the villagers solve many problems themselves. The need for community education was clear. Through this education, ASOSAP visited them frequently listening, observing, and sharing. This provided much needed spiritual, moral, and psychological support. The bond of trust between the community and ASOSAP was strengthened. As an example, at the beginning, eleven women attended the education sessions. However, at the end this June twenty-six women were attending.
Encouraging Signs of Transformation
After all of the trauma of the landslide, the women started off as insecure, angry, and closed off. We can now say that they are no longer like this. With each education session, they softened and opened up. The education sessions became filled with laughter, joy, and light-hearted teasing. It became a meeting between friends. They knew they weren’t alone. They were overcoming the trauma. We believe they were responding to God’s love and care.
Especially in the spiritual aspect, the education was a safe haven and filled a need that they had. Included in losing everything, was the loss of a home church. While the church was being rebuilt, they were able to hear God’s Word and were able to connect with and be supported by other Christians. They were able to grow in their relationship with God during this difficult time.
They were motivated to learn and rebuild their lives. Throughout out 2021 and 2022 they received a total of eight education sessions. They applied what they learned (about personal hygiene, diarrhea, family administration, healthy home environment, parasites, sexual health, nutrition, malnutrition, and a woman’s value in the eyes of God). This was evident in how they cared for themselves, their children, and kept a clean home. Their attitudes changed and you could see they were in a healthy place emotionally.
Physical Projects – Latrines and Wood Cookstoves
As they were starting from scratch, some of them needed basics such as safe and clean latrines. Their latrines were small holes in the ground, with makeshift walls of sticks and torn sheets that provided little privacy, especially when gusts of wind came. Maintaining hygiene with this was impossible too. With the new latrines, they have a safe and sturdy place that is private and can be easily cleaned to ensure good hygiene and prevent illness.
They were also struggling to cook meals over open fires on the ground. An open fire allowed only one pot at a time to be used. This was not only time-consuming, but hazardous. A fall into the fire would mean serious burns. The health of the whole family, parents and children, was also at risk due to the smoke that filled their homes. It caused daily smoke inhalation and irritation to their eyes. An improved wood cook stove was the best solution to these concerns.
This year, ASOSAP plans to install nine stoves and three latrines with your assistance and through supporters on DonorSee. Some families have already received these life-changing gifts and are very grateful. We have seen their happy faces as they make tortillas on their new stoves for the first time.
The healing in New Queja is obvious even in the land. Before, it was dry and brown. Now the hills are green and vibrant with crops of beans and corn. Seeing all of these transformations is an encouraging example to us of how a life with God can be a life of abundance.
We thank you for being part of this new life in New Queja through your generosity in giving and faithful prayers for these families. Let’s continue to lift them up as they strive forward.