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Reform Magazine | April 26, 2017

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Hope and clouds

Hope and clouds

John Ellis finds troubles and success stories in El Salvador

Have you heard the one about the archbishop, the terrorist and the pineapple? No? Then read on… Commitment for Life is one of the United Reformed Church’s success stories. By focusing attention on projects in four specific areas of the world, it brings to life our congregations’ giving to Christian Aid. We feel we know the people whom we are helping.

Recently Central America became one of the focus areas. Christian Aid took four representatives of the URC to see the work there so we could begin to tell the story around the Church back in Britain. So Simon Walkling from Wales, Alan McGougan from Scotland, Linda Mead, our Commitment for Life coordinator, and I found ourselves looking at the volcanic mountains of El Salvador.

The landscape was lush, beautiful and hot. It is a good place to be a tree. It is a less easy place to be a human being. The civil war of the 1980s was devastating whether you think the winners were freedom fighters or terrorists. A fragile democracy has survived 20 years and there is a sense of a new country still learning how to be itself. But for most people there is no spare cash.

The projects we saw were all success stories for the Christian Aid model of partnership: Channelling our money through a highly professional El Salvadorian organisation that really can reach and understand the local communities and work alongside them to achieve some of their dreams. The visions emerge from the local groups; they do most of the hard work; our money provides a few key pieces needed to complete the jigsaw…

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This is an extract from the November 2014 edition of Reform.

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