Sharing God’s love in practical ways through service, education and personal involvement.
Describe the need affecting community
Because SIFAT works globally and in our own country, we are answering each question in two parts. Ecuador represents one of our global projects, which have many similar needs. In the slums in the Belt of Misery around Quito, most basic needs are scarce or nonexistent. Mothers have to work and leave their small children unattended on the streets with gangs, drug dealers and traffic. They need preschool and after school programs for at-risk children and youth. SIFAT graduates also work with these children’s mothers to teach parenting, micro enterprise and life skills, as well as providing counseling and help finding housing. In the U.S., 46.7 million people were living in poverty in 2014—14.8% of the population. Additionally Mother Teresa pointed out to us, the poverty of the west is often deeper than that of the developing countries. She was referring to our spiritual poverty. American youth are disillusioned and looking for meaning and purpose. And still in America, children are hungry.
How will this Advance project help to address the need?
To address the global poverty issue, SIFAT trains church and community leaders in principles of community development using appropriate technologies as tools. Christian leaders have come from more than 90 countries to study with SIFAT and then have returned to teach these things in their communities. Our programming for youth centers around our simulated Global Village where youth participate in experiences similar to those in developing countries. They learn by seeing injustices acted out that leave some in their group without enough food. They begin to understand some of the root causes of poverty and what can be done to change it. They also learn positive things they can do in their own communities and spend time out in our community volunteering to help fill needs. The experience at SIFAT changes the world view of young people and helps them get involved in helping eliminate poverty and making the world better. They begin thinking as a global citizen. In Ecuador, SIFAT partners with local churches in marginalized areas to provide safe and loving preschool and after school programs for these unattended children on the streets. SIFAT’s part is to bring teams to help build the facilities. SIFAT also brings medical teams to check the health and teeth of the children at least once and hopefully twice a year to prevent serious illnesses. We also visit the homes to encourage the parents emotionally and psychology, as well as to ensure that the children are not being abused and to improve their living conditions when possible. SIFAT teams have helped our graduates who are the pastors in these slum churches welcome more than 2,000 children off the streets to a loving, safe environment.
Describe the primary goal of the project
The primary goal of the Ecuadorian project is to transform impoverished communities into safe, caring neighborhoods with opportunities for all to work and become self-sustaining. Long Term Impact: Successful communities become positive contributors, reaching out to other marginalized communities as missionaries in their own city. The primary goal of SIFAT is to build relationships with our brothers and sisters in the developing world to empower them with education and service to replace the poverty in their communities with the Abundant Life that Jesus brings. As we serve alongside our graduates and their projects, it helps us to realize our own poverty and helps us develop spiritually. Long Term impact: The Kingdom of God will be spread further. On the U.S. Campus, the primary goals are (1.) to inspire Americans to become involved in helping empower the poor with an emphasis on helping youth to find meaning and purpose for their lives that will make a difference in our world, and (2.) to train Christian development workers from poor communities throughout the world and to provide an opportunity for the two groups to build long-term relationships. Long Term Impact: People from different countries and cultures uniting as Global Citizens to work together to make a better world, resulting in their communities rising out of poverty.
Describe the change you would like to see in the community as a result of this Advance project
SIFAT has seen and expects to continue to see dramatic transformation in the communities in which we serve. We have experienced children’s life goals shifting from wanting to emulate their current role models of drug dealers, prostitutes, gang members, etc. to seeing themselves as teachers, pastors, engineers, etc.