A New Ministry for the Dillards: Part 3 – Saving El Salvador from Gangs

Another thing about Central America. Even El Salvador has five Walmart Super Centers and 92 Walmart retail locations. Along with McDonalds, Burger King, KFC, Popeyes, you name it. This is the Walmart in San Jose, Costa Rica right across the hwy from the airport. Image by Suzanne Titkemeyer
Another thing about Central America. Even El Salvador has five Walmart Super Centers and 92 Walmart retail locations. Along with McDonalds, Burger King, KFC, Popeyes, you name it. This is the Walmart in San Jose, Costa Rica right across the hwy from the airport. Image by Suzanne Titkemeyer

by Mel cross posted from her blog When Cows and Kids Collide

In previous posts, I’ve highlighted why I think the Dillards are unprepared for dealing with gangs and why SOS ministries is placing volunteers at undue risk.

In this post, I’d like to discuss how SOS Ministry hurts the local population (including Jill, Derick and Israel if they choose to remain in the country.)


My information is based on Carissa’s blog posts along with SOS’s online mission trip information combined with my experiences working in an urban district with many immigrant students, basic web searches of sites like the US State Department, the Centers for Disease Control, Wikipedia, and a heap of common sense.


What does El Salvador Need?

Let me throw an additional resource into the mix.  The CIA World Factbook is an incredibly useful tool for researching countries.  I’m going to compare three countries: El Salvador, the United States of America and Denmark.
El Salvador

Improved infrastructure: Sanitation Controls

While most of the population has access to safe drinking water, 25% of the population does not have access to safe sewage disposal systems.  The prevalence of bacterial/protozoal diarrhea and typhoid are directly related to underdeveloped sanitation systems.   Getting rid of those two endemic health issues is as simple – and costly – as building sewers and septic systems.
Educational Systems:

Students in El Salvador will – on average – receive 25% years of education than students in the USA and 36% years of education fewer than Denmark.  (Side note: The USA does not have a great educational record.  We have a disturbingly high drop-out rate in high poverty areas.)  Education is free, but class sizes are very high and funding is very low.

An additional problem is that the university system in El Salvador was severely damaged during the civil war due to murders of faculty and students.  Replacing the loss of human capital will take several decades and is affecting the country’s ability to train doctors, teachers, and engineers.

Medical Systems:

God, where to start?

  • 204% higher infant mortality rate than the USA
  • 7.5% shorter life span
  • 55% fewer doctors than the USA; 68% fewer doctors than Denmark
  • 62% fewer hospital beds than the USA; 68% fewer hospital beds than Denmark
  • Endemic infectious diseases occur.
  • 1,100% higher rate of childhood malnutrition than the USA

Is SOS Ministries providing change in infrastructure, education, or medicine?  I see no evidence that they are.

Are Jill and Derick Dillard adding any informational or resource capital to infrastructure, education or medicine?  No.

(For those who are wondering, Jill’s midwifery “certification” is inadequate for use in developed nations where advanced medical support (EMT) is a short phone call away.  Delivering a woman in El Salvador with her training should be criminal.)
But Mel, what harm are they doing?  They’re just passing out clothes and toys.
 

 The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

  •  Africa’s local clothing market has been destroyed by well-meaning charities.  Every T-shirt, jeans or shoes handed out by SOS Ministry is a job taken away from El Salvadorans.
  • Every toy handed to a child is a job taken away from El Salvadorans. (Logically – Salvadoran children were playing with something before SOS Ministries showed up.  Why not support those workers?)
  • Every dollar spent on clothes or toys is a dollar NOT spent on school materials, teacher education, new infrastructure, medicines, doctors or hospitals.
Let’s think about those good intentions for a second.  Who really benefits?
  •  The volunteers get some warm fuzzy feelings for handing out second-hand clothing and toys – but they aren’t really changing anything.
  • The locals get free clothing and toys – but is that what they want?  Has anyone from SOS Ministries asked them?  SOS was invited – allegedly – to help run a recreation center to keep the kids out of gangs.  How does a duffel bag of used T-shirts keep the kids out of the gangs?
  •  El Salvador has a large textile manufacturing sector that is churning out cheap clothing that will go to the USA and be returned as second hand clothing.  While I enjoy the irony – a cheap T-shirt may well travel more than I ever have – my amusement is not worth the waste of capital involved in using money to buy shirts made in El Salvador in the USA and bringing them back to El Salvador.
There are better ways of doing this.
 

My church supports an orphanage in Ecuador for children who are HIV-positive who have no one else to care for them.  One group of professionals – doctors and nurses – heads down several times a year to help the local community medical workers.  If you want to go, you need a RN or a MD/DO.

Not an RN or MD/DO?  The rest of us raise funds.  We use the money to purchase medical goods and devices that were not easily available in Ecuador.  Other things that the children need – clothing, toys, household goods, food – are purchased locally (i.e. in Ecuador).

We do send duffel bags of materials down to Ecuador – but it’s full of anti-retroviral drugs, sutures, feeding tubes. oxygen masks – things that are needed, but not accessible

Derick and Jill, it’s time to grow up.

  • Play-acting in hopes of saving souls is forgivable in pre-teens, but shameful in grown adults.
  •  Real missionary adults have skills – they are teachers, nurses, doctors or engineers.  They know how to raise money and disburse the money in ways that help the recipients rather than soothe the egos of the givers.  They speak the language fluently.
  •  Real missionaries take care of their health and the health of their children.  What are your plans for getting Israel vaccinated against rabies and typhoid?  He’s at high risk of exposure  of typhoid right now and will be at extremely high risk of rabies exposure when he can walk/run since little kids like animals.  Did anyone at SOS ministries bother to tell you that?  Did you bother to check yourselves?
To paraphrase 1st Corinthians 13:11, when you were children, you thought and reasoned like children.  When you are an adult, you put childish things aside.
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Read everything by Mel!

Mel is a science teacher who works with at-risk teens and lives on a dairy farm with her husband. She’s a wise fount of knowledge about things involving living with a farmer and farming. She blogs at When Cows and Kids Collide

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