We are so very grateful for all of you who have partnered with us over the last two months as we have ministered to our community by offering space for them to “shelter in place.” In El Salvador things continue to change each week. We are doing our best to adapt and change to provide the best care we can while seeking to navigate circumstances beyond our control. Right now that means transitioning into the next phase of our emergency response to the COVID-19 crisis in El Salvador.
The Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Justice and Public Security, and other government agencies have worked closely with us in the management of the shelter. Over the last few weeks, the coronavirus has begun to spread extensively throughout El Salvador. It has become clear that the wisest and safest decision for our staff, clients, and government partners is to transition from one large shelter into the next phase of our response which includes placing our clients into separate living situations. This decision was not easy, but we feel it is the best direction to take at this time.
This transition presents many challenges to our staff as we have worked to try to find the best housing solution for each of our clients. The vast majority came to the shelter from the streets so in most cases we are starting from scratch. We have conducted interviews with each client and have facilitated a variety of temporary housing options. Some will be staying with friends and family, others will be going to a residential rehab center, some will be going to a shelter specifically for older Salvadorans, and still others will be staying in an apartment that MTES is renting for them temporarily while the crisis continues in El Salvador. We are also providing each client with a mattress, extra clothes, shoes, groceries, and personal hygiene items to help them through this transition.
As we wrap up this phase of our emergency response, we have worked with our government partners to make sure we are transitioning in the best possible way. All of our staff have been tested for the coronavirus, and so have our clients so that they can arrive at their new housing situations knowing that they are negative for the virus. The government has also assisted us with necessary repairs, and they will be deep-cleaning and sanitizing all of our facilities so that things are ready to go when we get the green light to resume operations at New Dawn and the Lighthouse Resource Center. In the midst of this transition, we are also celebrating because all of our clients inside of the shelter have been clean and sober for the past two months! Many of them have expressed a desire to make the most of this opportunity to change their lives and work toward a new future and we are doing all that we can to support them in this process.
We will continue to distribute emergency food to our clients including those in transition, and those who have been suffering through El Salvador’s national quarantine. Those who are most vulnerable have been struggling the most, and we know that there is a long road ahead of us as El Salvador faces a major economic crisis.
Our gratitude toward those who have supported our emergency efforts cannot be understated! We ask that you continue to partner with us as we help each of our clients transition out of the shelter, and as we accompany them through the difficult days and weeks to come.We are so excited to see many of our clients dreaming about a new future even in the midst of such difficult times, and we thank you for joining us in walking with them through this process!