“We are orphans. Our families have left us and now we are lonely with no one to care for us. We are completely abandoned.”
Zacharias, age 73, outlined their situation in his own words:
“We are orphans. Our families have left us and now we are lonely
with no one to care for us. We are completely abandoned.”
This is where the local church has stepped in. Every morning in Opoqueri, you can see children walking in the direction of the school and the elderly making their way to the local Baptist church. They come to get breakfast, lunch and supper. They come to use the bathroom and have a warm shower. They come to be with friends, to feel loved and cared for and to be in community. Andreanna, 85, shared “I miss my family so much, but when I come to the church, I forget how lonely I am because I am with friends.”
We have also been able to walk with the church as they seek to understand the specific needs of this demographic and find sustainable ways of meeting those needs effectively. This ranges from training around dietary needs and encouraging the congregation in home visitations, to empowering the small group to pressure the local government to provide the few benefits that seniors are entitled to. We’ve also been able to coordinate a visit from a doctor who wanted to get involved after hearing about the project through the Baptist church he attends a few hours away.
Most notably, the project allows the group to offer support to one another. Benavidez, 82, says “my favorite part of the day is getting to talk with my friends. We ask ‘how are you doing? Are you feeling ill?’ We share our problems with each other and then we laugh and laugh and make jokes and we all feel better.”
For several members, the project also provides a sense of value because it offers them a chance to care for one another. “I came to know Jesus later in my life, but I understood right away that I needed to love God and love my neighbour. I am still young and have more strength than others; some of my friends can barely lift their cups up to their mouths, but I can pour them their tea. I can help with what strength I have,” shared Zacharias.
We are humbled and encouraged to be a part of this work and are proud to walk with this church as they serve their community.