Covenant World Relief – Making a Difference In Colombia

Post a Comment » Written on August 12th, 2009     
Filed under: News
EL HATO, COLOMBIA (August 12, 2009) – The local bank denied a loan application to the Farmer’s Salvation Tractor Project in a small Colombian town where the country’s president, Alvara Uribe, owns land.

The loan would enable the project to purchase a tractor so that local farmers could increase their yield by 50 percent over farming by hand. When the bank refused to provide the loan, the farmers turned to Covenant World Relief (CWR), which supplied the money. The accompanying photo shows the tractor provided by CWR.

TractorSeveral months later, the president happened by the project’s leader, Jose Emilio Izquierdo, and asked how the work was proceeding. He knew the project had sought the loan and asked if the bank had provided it.

“I said to Mr. President, ‘I’m a Colombian citizen, born in Colombia, love Colombia, am working hard for the people of Colombia, and I can’t get a loan from a Colombian bank,” Izquierdo told him. “I’m not a U.S. citizen, I’ve never been to the U.S., I won’t ever go there, I don’t know English, but I have some Christian brothers and sisters in the U.S. who believed in this vision to partner with the poor farmer around here and they gave me a loan.”

Izquierdo recalls, “The next day, the bank called me wanting to know why the Colombian government was breathing down its neck about the denied loan application.”

Many other stories of changed lives were told to CWR representatives during their recent visit to El Hato and other areas of the country, during which they met with leaders of partnering organizations. Participants on the trip included Evangelical Covenant Church Missionary Gary Sander, CWR Director David Husby, and two members of the CWR Commission, Louise Wilson and Akuorkor Addy.

CafeEl Hato school children as well as farmers are benefiting directly from the CWR assistance. A new school was built in the community recently, but it doesn’t have a computer lab even though the students were required to do “online homework.”

“It’s tough to do your research online when you have to travel 25 minutes by bike and 45 minutes by foot to the nearest Internet café and then wait in line forever to find out that the signal is down,” says Sander.

But the new Adonai Internet Café funded by CWR (accompanying photo) has made it possible for students to do their homework. “The Adonai Internet Café has the most secure signal for miles and miles around,” Sander says.

He adds that partners are using Covenant money to help lift people out of poverty through projects that provide immediate assistance and promote sustainable development. 
They include fire relief projects have developed into partnerships with Compassion International; the Women’s Rotary Club of Colombia; the Paraklete Foundation and the City of Medellin; agro-business projects growing chickens, pigs and cattle; outreaches to children; and prostitutes receiving training for jobs that offer dignity and an alternative income.

The discussions between the CWR representatives and the groups working in Colombia will lead to new opportunities for helping people break free from poverty, Sander says.

Covenant World Relief has served as the international humanitarian aid and development arm of the Covenant since 1946.

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