I would like to tell you about Hilda, a mother of five children abandoned by her husband and therefore must survive on her own. She exemplifies so many of our families who are forced to live on the edge.
If the family is the foundation of society then it must be a priority of our ministry. Thankfully our new Parish of Our Lady of La Salette in Cochabamba, Bolivia has had the needs of the family in the forefront. First our religious education is family oriented. Secondly we have a group of people from our community coordinated by Susan, a lay missionary from the United States (she, her husband and two daughters live in our parish).
She visits our neighborhoods to fight malnutrition which is so common. And also she accompanies pregnant mothers who have no medical care. We also have two day care
centers each handling about forty kids allowing some parents who put in long work days, often up to 16 hours to leave their children in a secure and loving place.
In our two dining halls, our parish is able to feed almost 400 children from Monday through Friday. Otherwise these children would have
been forced to remain home alone while their parents are away working. Children taking care of children cannot be an ideal situation. Thank
s to the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, we have a program to assist a group of poor elderly parishioners. They are gathered weekly for companionship and snacks. Also they receive a monthly bag of groceries and when needed medical assistance.
These are some of the areas in which we are able to touch and enrich family life for our people. And thanks to our many benefactors we are able to serve our fellow Bolivians, nearly nine million people, of which forty-seven percent are 18 or younger.
There is so much need. First we must preach Christ and then we must “feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothed the naked, shelter the homeless, as Jesus asks us to do.