Caring for Children
About Fundación Exodo
Fundación Exodo is a Christian nonprofit organization created to restore the lives of children who have been abandoned by their loved ones. Through a model of excellence children are provided with physical and emotional care, education, vocational skills, social and spiritual support in a family environment where children call home.
It was pouring rain that night, twenty-one years ago, when my family and I were out for a family evening. We ran for coverage waiting for the rain to subside, when I felt a light pull on my skirt. I looked down, and I saw a little boy about 4 years old with his hand extended asking for some coins. Surprised by the child I said, “What in the world are you doing out in the street at this hour of the night?” The little boy did not answer as he was scarred, and withdrew himself from me. I then noticed a cardboard box behind him where his brother, a small baby was sleeping. My heart ached that rainy night and I knew I had to take action. I began to pray asking God, to show me a way to help the children that were lost and abandoned.
This is the testimony of Patricia Parras founder of the Exodo Home. The answer was the start of the Exodo Foundation, a home for girls and boys that have been abandoned or brought in by the government.
Currently, the Exodo Foundation takes care of 42 children ages range between 7 and 21 years old. Our children come from all over El Salvador. Some of our children are parentless, and others have been brought in by the police due to severe neglect and abuse in the home. Often, these parents carry out unhealthy and dangerous lifestyles, such as, prostitution, drug and alcohol addiction which increases the chances of child neglect, abuse, and abandonment. Unfortunately, some of these parents are currently serving jail time.
When the Children arrive to the Exodo Home they are often in unbearable and unsanitary conditions, such as, emotionally broken, fearful, parasitic bellies, hair lice, and other illnesses. In addition, many of the children have never attended school. Our experience has correlated with the reports of UNICEF, which is that the abandonment, mistreatment, and abuse of infants have a devastating impact on the psyche of these children. The devastating psychological impacts can manifest in various forms, such as, the following:
Anxiety/attention deficit disorders, depression, low self esteem. Social withdrawal, lack of empathy, aggression, criminal behaviors.
The development in the cognitive, linguistic and social level has been delayed, so that their academic performance has been affected. The children can have difficulties completing their academic work, as they lack initiative, and are always overly dependent on assistance, and approval by the teacher.
The care needed to completely restore the lives of these children can be complex and goes far beyond providing food and shelter, which requires many areas of attention.
Our children have emotional wounds that only the Lord can heal. The children often hold a lot of anger and resentment towards the people who who have hurt them, and it is essential that the we teach the children the power of forgiving them. Since many of the children are fearful and insecure assisting them in overcoming these problems can require countless hours of praying and counseling. We strongly believe that with the help of our Lord and professional counselors our children will be able to overcome all psychological damage.
Trained substitute parents (foster parents) take care of the children in each house 24/7. Each foster parent provides a loving and stable environment, reinforces rules, and disciples through positive reinforcements which meets each child’s basic emotional needs. We strive to provide the children a home that they can call their own, and where their foster parents can model relationships as in a normal family.
All of our children undergo medical and dental checkups to assess their physical and oral health. Once a year our children receive their yearly physical assessments where they undergo tests to diagnose or prevent common illnesses, such as, parasites or common cold. In addition, each child is provided with an as needed doctor’s visit through out the year. We closely monitoring each house to verify that the foster parents are carrying out their duties by providing a clean and pleasant environment in order to promote the health of all and prevent illnesses.
Education is one of our top priorities in the home, we strongly believe that education is the key ingredient that will change the future of our children and this country. Education can break the cycle of violence and poverty in our children. Our children attend a private school where they receive quality and excellent education. Unfortunately, El Salvador’s public education can expose our children to gangs and violence, so we strive to always provide asafe environment for our children at all times.
Emotional Health Program
All children separated from their parents for whatever reason have serious emotional issues that must be addressed at the level of individual therapy and group therapy. Therefore a christian psychologist closely works with our children to address their emotional wounds, like, pain, anger, guilt and other harmful emotions derived from the neglect, physical and/or sexual abuse that they have sufferred. Forgiveness is the ultimate goal to achieve.