A stone path over a makeshift dam routinely washes away in the Salvadoran village of El Carmen, but our clergy and missioners still negotiate their respective ways through the tangled vines to the families living a half hour into the jungle. ERD (Episcopal Relief and Development), Cristosal and the Diocese of El Salvador have not forgotten them. Noah Bullock, a community outreach worker we met in June, has put together a Cristosal proposal for a more permanent structure in El Carmen. You and I can help build that bridge, one block at a time. A donation to Cristosal (click on the "Projects" tab at http://www.cristosal.org/) in the amount of $6.00 will buy a bag of cement; a contribution of $70.00 will buy a truckload of sand or stones.
The CCC team and others here at Maseno Mission Hospital represent the same "church that walks." Patients who miss their routine HIV/AIDS clinic appointments do not disappear into a book of forgotten statistics. Clinicians make follow-up visits, walking many kilometers to round huts with dirt floors and thatched roofs, to provide continuity of care. Here, and in the hospital, too, we can make a difference. A donation to Maseno Missions, c/o All Soul's Episcopal Church, 1475 Catalina Blvd., San Diego, CA 92107, in any amount will provide services to patients, orphans and students in need. A portable oxygen tank costs about $1200; a pulse oximeter half of that; BP cuffs, penlites, sheets and thermometers considerably less. We could feed 500 kids for a whole year for $4000; we could provide a mobile medical clinic for those same kids for $5000 a year. But any amount will help.
One of the difficulties of our complex world is choosing how to help. An unfortunate "Catch 22" occurs with the beneficence of the Gates Foundation and other NGO's: they inadvertently put the mission hospitals out of business by paying higher-than-competitive salaries to doctors and nurses, stripping the ranks of qualified in-country staff. NGO's also tend to focus on one issue: while HIV/AIDS is certainly a crisis in Africa and elsewhere, TB and malaria are, too -- all over the earth.
Advent is a time of preparation; Christmas is a time of giving. This season, especially, as individuals and as a church, we can help people prepare for and provide a better way of life for themselves and for one another. We can open our hearts and minds to a world much bigger than our own. From El Salvador to Kenya, from ERD to Diomass' Jubilee Commission, from Habitat for Humanity to Heifer International, from Doctors without Borders to The Global Fund and World Vision...
Please pray for, walk with and contribute whatever you can, wherever you can to help our brothers and sisters on "this fragile earth, our island home." In Jesus' name.