COVID-19 & Travel
Last month we hosted a series of community meetings to share updates from Iringa, review best practice[...]
As we continue to face many uncertainties in our lives and world today, one thing is certain. When companion congregations and members are asked to respond with prayers and gifts to support our Guatemalan brothers and sisters, they do so with incredible generosity! This outpouring of love and compassion gives resources for ILAG to continue the work of Christ and gives hope to the people it serves. Pastor Karen, ILAG staff members, congregational leaders, members and community members express sincere gratitude.
As congregations and their members adapted to the pandemic, the hurricanes compounded their sadness and worries. Hurricane relief aid brought renewed hope to these families. In early December, Pastor Karen, Diego, Marco and Estuardo were able to visit six ILAG communities as indicated on the table. Roads leading into these villages are very rough anyway and were heavily damaged by erosion from the hurricane. You will notice that some of the communities that were in the hurricanes’ paths were not visited. Diego stated, “In some communities, they continue with rigorous preventative measures; they do not let in people who do not belong to the village.”
People in the communities they visited are healthy. Some communities are stricter with COVID precautions than others, but masks are not widely used. Members’ well-being is also impacted by their strong faith that is supported by well-organized, caring congregations. Churches now have special permission from their village governments to hold worship services and Sunday school with a reduced number of participants. Since Sunday school was beginning again, teacher books and six student books (for 44 classes), crayons, pencils, white paper, and glue was delivered to each of the congregations.
In some of the communities there were human losses. Diego remarked, “Thanks be to God that in the ILAG congregations in all of the communities, we didn’t have any [member] human losses.” Material losses included:
Hurricane Relief Aid:
Food: Corn, beans, rice, pasta, sugar, Incaparina (protein beverage)
Supplies: Solar-powered lamps with chargers
Health: Cleaning supplies, soap, detergent, disinfectant liquid, masks
ILAG received support from Lutheran Disaster Response and gifts from companion congregations that provided this much needed assistance to the families in impacted communities.
ILAG congregations have members who share Christ’s love and compassion as they support one another. As hurricane relief aid was delivered, Diego said that it was very special to see members reach out beyond their congregation to other neighbors by asking for help for those who were more affected and by sharing what they had with those in more need.
During the break from school, students were able to use their leadership skills by sharing what they had learned with their congregations. Some have worked with children’s ministry by planning and leading activities; others have prepared lessons and taught women how to bake bread.
Two students will begin college classes the last weekend in January. All 15 Milagro students will be back in Guatemala City by the first week in February for the start of a new school year. While interest continues to grow in Milagro, the pandemic and hurricanes added additional hardships to families’ lives and young women are needed at home to work.
But just imagine the joy on the faces of the children as they enter their new school building soon… (2020 Gala invitation)
For many students, that was on Monday, Jan. 18, or Tuesday, Jan. 19.
ILAG is grateful for your gifts to the new school. This is what the students saw as they walked in at the beginning of a new year in a new building…
The Guatemalan government gave schools permission to begin some on-site instruction. The new school year started on Jan. 18, with parents having the option of sending their students to school on a hybrid model (Each class has Group A: Class on Monday and Thursday; Group B: Class on Tuesday and Friday; Wednesday for help from teacher; homework other days) or in-home instruction. The first week of school was a success!
However, on Jan. 24, the following update was on the CLAG Facebook page:
Parents of families: We want to inform you that unfortunately we have to suspend classes because the updated COVID-19 report in our municipality appears in red. It's unfortunate for us as the children and our teachers were very excited and happy back to school. This report as we all know is updated every 15 days. So we will abide by the orders and hope to God that we will return at that time.
The pandemic has highlighted the challenges that so many of the students face. Even when assignments and learning materials are delivered to students, in-home instruction is a challenge when no family members can read or write. In addition, often there is no access to the internet to connect with someone who can.
Diego also stressed that students’ “new normality will need technology.” Teachers and students will need access to internet, iPads, laptops and printers.
Source: Gil, Diego. Email Interview. 15 January 2021