Locals Share Their Love and Time at
Orphanage in Colombia
By Jared Acuna
Shoe found at Market in Colombia
Photo by Lamping Photography
This spring, a handful of locals will be trading the comforts of the Pacific Northwest for the jungles of South America. Formally titled a missions trip, the assembled team will be lending their hands at the Colombia Grace Foundation. An orphanage, a boarding school, a church, – these are just a few of the many faces that the foundation takes on.
Situated at the jungle outskirts down the Caribbean coastline, one of the organization’s initiatives is to rescue street kids. Comprised mostly of boys, these youths are being nurtured into adults capable of various skills and good decisions.
One of the taboos in mission work can be found in western countries imposing their own cultures as a better path. This simply isn’t the case with the foundation and that’s what makes it so special. The Oregonians who live and work the grounds have assimilated into Colombian culture and learned the local language, not the other way around.
It’s this devotion of putting others first that has separated it from other types of relief work. The staff didn’t move there as Americans, they came to be Colombians and guide the orphans to be better Colombians too.
On staff full-time at the foundation, Astoria native Dana Kindig hasn’t been home in years. Giving up her signature Clatsop County sarcastic accent for Spanish hasn’t been easy, but she’s looking forward to getting a taste of home by way of the upcoming visitors. “Colombia Grace Foundation is looking forward to having a team come visit because we have many projects that can be expedited through the help of many hands. We also look forward to conversations because as Americans in a Spanish speaking country, we miss and and look forward to fellowship in our own language.”
The team will be led by Warrenton local Michael Slivkoff. Several others from the likes of Seaside to Knappa will be going with him as well, notably Past Astoria School District Director of Transportation, Ryan Hahn.
It’s often easy to disregard the importance of sending ourselves to lend a hand. Many deem it more practical to just send money, and while that can be beneficial, a check can never hug a child or hold a conversation. The difference is made in a willingness to be present.
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