"I knew we were at risk when the sound of makeshift houses being knocked down woke me up. I heard the scream of a neighbour who was floating on his bed on the muddy water. Everything was flowing down the hill," said 74-year-old Transito Mejia. 

Amid the Covid-19 emergency, Tropical Storm Amanda took El Salvador by surprise. In the early morning of May 31, the storm hit harshly. In the torrential flood of mud and water, many families like Transisto's lost their homes and all their belongings. 

The grandmother and her husband have been raising their grandson since his mother abandoned him when he was five months old. The family lives in a community built into a hill. They know from experience that when it rains, the water flows down into their homes. They never sleep during storms—they know the rains mean they will suffer heavy losses. 

Transito describes how they survived the terrifying morning. "While I packed some clothes for my boy in a backpack, I felt scared. I was crying, and I said to my boy, 'For sure, the brothers of the Compassion centre are already coming for us'. They always help us when we need help. And thanks to the Lord, when we finally were able to get out of the house, they were there and took us to the shelter."  

Single mother Sorayda Lopez lives in Alta Vista which was flooded by the swollen rivers. She, too, faced a nightmare. 

"I felt vulnerable getting wet. I was just hugging my three children who were crying and worried. We saw our roof go flying in the strong winds," she said. 

Early in the morning, Sorayda's neighbour shared her WiFi access, which Sorayda used to contact the Compassion centre staff. They acted quickly to rescue the family and move them to the church shelter.   

Tropical-Storm-Amanda-blog-body-v2.jpg"In this refuge, I feel good now. My children can have breakfast and snacks" says Sorayda.

Before Tropical Storm Amanda hit, Compassion's church partners across the country planned how to evacuate and house families amid a pandemic. Many of the public shelters were hosting people who had been diagnosed with Covid-19. Staff decided to prepare their church buildings to host families in a safe environment.  

"Our volunteers started to contact each family and give them the guides and measures that they need to make in case of an emergency," said Carmen Mejia, the director at the child development centre. 

Across El Salvador, many churches are supporting families by providing shelter. One of these churches is Family Congregation of God Assembly, who is sheltering 16 families, a total of 76 people.  

For the centre staff, one of the biggest obstacles was supplying all the bedding and supplies. "We needed to move fast and contact suppliers that could sell us many items. They know our work and that’s why they accepted our orders because the Covid-19 crisis meant the sellers had restrictions on selling large quantities," said Eduardo Rosales, the director at another child development centre. 

At the shelter, each person receives a biosafety and personal hygiene kit, a mattress, blankets, towels, clothes, food, medicines, facial mask, toys, and gel sanitizer.

Each family receives three full meals a day, plus two snacks. In many cases, this is more food than the family normally can afford. "In this refuge, I feel good now. My children can have breakfast and snacks. At home, we don't have breakfast since we needed to save food during the quarantine," said Sorayda. 

Compassion volunteers and the church's children's' ministries support the children at the shelter by visiting to provide activities and entertainment while maintaining social distancing. They perform plays, make crafts, drawings, paintings, and project movies for the children to watch.  

"I feel good here because I am used to being in this place. I enjoy making action figures with balloons full of flour," said Angelo. 

These families now have a safe home to stay until the government declares it safe to return to their houses. Despite their fears and loss, these families see that Compassion's church partners are helping them and will continue to provide support, even after the crisis.  



Help Families Affected BY COVID-19

Families in poverty have no safety net in times of crisis. Help provide food, medical care and support during this pandemic.


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