In my last post, I highlighted the need for one-on-one connections with our friends on the street. That’s the heart of the Lighthouse Project. The more we get to know our clients, the more we learn just exactly what they are up against.
For example, did you know that El Salvador has a higher death rate from alcohol consumption than any other country in the Americas? Did you know that men in El Salvador are 27.8% more likely to die from an alcohol related cause than women? (You can read the full article here).
Did you know that this past weekend, the Salvadoran newspaper La Prensa Grafica reported that 40 children have been murdered so far in El Salvador this year? Forty lives 17 and under have been cut short since January 1, 2014. Since that story was published, there has been an additional report of a murdered 16 year old. Gang violence accounts for many of those homicides.
Did you know that the same newspaper also reported that in 2013, an average of 64 Salvadorans were deported from the U.S. every day? Many of them arrive with no resume, no place to go, and no references. Some even struggle with the Spanish language having lived the majority of their lives in the U.S. (Read the full Spanish language story here.)
Did you know that many are deported because of drug related crimes, and so they arrive in El Salvador with a drug problem, no resources, no friends, no family, and no hope?
Did you know that if you have served time in jail, it is virtually impossible to get a job in El Salvador? Did you know that some of our clients have applied for work and been unable to qualify for a job?
Did you know that it can be an uphill battle to get even the most basic of identification documents…the DUI card? Did you know that many of our clients come to us requesting help with this basic service, without which they have limited access to public resources?
Did you know that the streets are dangerous and unkind, and that our friends are in extreme danger of being killed, or forced into criminal gang activity?
Did you know that our friends are not perfect, but neither are we? Did you know that they need grace and love just like us?
Did you know that we are starting a new initiative to offer job training for our clients? Did you know that as part of our bakery micro-enterprise they can learn business principles, acquire skills in baking and sales, and have job experience to begin building a resume?
That is just what we are doing. The garage space in the Lighthouse Center will be the site of a new bakery. We are bringing in experienced bakers to get the business started, and our clients will be selling the bread. Eventually they will also be involved in the baking and managing aspects as well. Each client employed in the Lighthouse Bakery will also share in the profits.
The space has been cleaned, painted, and prepped. This week we will begin to install the baking equipment. We have already accepted applications from some of our clients who have been waiting for this breakthrough.
Did you know that this could be a new beginning for them?
The garage in the Lighthouse Center…the paint is done, and soon the bakery equipment will be in place and ready to go!