Community Adoption, El Salvador
In 1990, SSIO volunteers in El Salvador started visiting some disabled boys who were in wheelchairs and living in a run-down house in a poor neighbourhood. After making friends with these boys, many of whom had been injured during the armed conflict in El Salvador, the Sai volunteers brought them food and hygiene items every month. After a couple of years, they rented a house that was street-level, so the boys did not have problems getting in and out. This house was in the centre of town just two blocks from the central market, and it could shelter 14 boys at that time. After a few years the owner of the house asked the Sai group if they wanted to buy it. The Sathya Sai Foundation of El Salvador was able to buy the house, and then the group decided to build a new, more comfortable home for the the young men’s needs. They built a three-story building, the first floor having a dining room and kitchen plus workshop spaces. The second floor has 11 bedrooms, and the 3rd floor houses a Sathya Sai Baba Centre. Six bathrooms have specialised bathing facilities and safety bars, with wide doors for the wheelchairs. The elevator holds four wheelchairs and has a capacity of 4,000 lbs. At present, 22 boys live on the second floor, and six ladies live on the first floor. A large cistern that holds 48 cubic metres of water was installed. The facility, which opened on 23 November 1997, will celebrate its 21st anniversary this year.
The important concept behind this project is that the so-called invalids are really not invalids but persons with physical handicaps that prevent them from getting on a bus and going to work. So, the SSIO volunteers designed a home with workshops where the residents can work and live without having to commute. At different times over these 20-plus years, the workshops have provided space for a bakery, computer centre, shoe repair, watch repair, electric appliance repair, and wheelchair repair, as well as for sewing and crochet. Many of these shops still function, depending on the residents living there. The home is free for all the residents, and they have a code of conduct that they must follow, supervised by themselves. At one time a free medical clinic operated on the premises, which has now moved to another location but can be used by the residents. The Sai Centre on the top floor can be visited by the residents as they wish. Several Sai miracles have been witnessed at the home. One such miracle was printed in the Sanathana Sarathi magazine, issue September 2017. This community had been forgotten by the government, as no other facility like this exists in the country. But God did not forget them, and the SSIO volunteers continue to do service for these people, including helping to maintain their home.