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The COAR Children’s Village was founded in 1980 by Reverend Ken Myers, a Catholic priest from Cleveland, Ohio, serving on the Cleveland Diocese Latin American Mission Team in Zaragoza, El Salvador.
The Salvadoran Civil War (1979-1992) created a large number of refugees and orphans. On his visits to the crowded refugee camps in San Salvador in late 1979 Fr. Ken saw children without supervision. These children were also lacking regular meals and proper security. With this realization he decided to bring a few children back to his parish where they fixed up a spare room with triple-decker bunk beds. Sr. Dorothy Kazel, OSU, and Jean Donovan, fellow Cleveland Mission Team members at Zaragoza, helped him care for the children. A few children became 30 in a few weeks and more came every day.
Within a few months Fr. Ken realized that the need was permanent and hired a few refugee women and bought some property nearby. Earlier that same year Monseñor Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador and an outspoken critic of the war, was assassinated. Because of Fr. Ken’s admiration for the man and his message of peace, he named the growing community Comunidad Oscar Arnulfo Romero (COAR).
Fr. Ken solicited funds to build houses for the children, a school, and a clinic and the “Children’s Village” was born. In 1982, Fr. Ken was joined by Sister Stanislaus Mackey and Sister Audrey Walsh, when the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, Houston, Texas (CCVI) agreed to take on running the COAR Children’s Village. Fr. Ken also reached out to the Cleveland community to fund COAR’s growing needs. In 1985 COAR Peace Mission was established as a 501(c)(3) Charitable Organization in the United States to support the COAR Children’s Village. The Sisters of the Incarnate Word took on the official management of COAR for the Archdiocese of San Salvador from 1991 to 2009. After their departure, COAR Peace Mission facilitated the management of the Children’s Village until it returned to direct administration by the Archdiocese of San Salvador, Vicariate of Human Development – CARITAS. Full financial support is secured by COAR Peace Mission of Cleveland, Ohio.
Historically, the COAR Children’s Village was a permanent home for displaced children. Many children arrived at the village as small children and stayed until they turned 18 and created a life on their own. Often their parents and relatives were either no longer alive or no longer living in the country. However, as time passed and the residual damage from the war faded, the children that resided in the COAR Children’s Village were more frequently victims of poverty, abuse, and gang violence, a growing concern in El Salvador.
Learn more about the Cleveland Latin American Mission Team (CLAM) here.
Learn more about Blessed Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero here.
Learn more about Sister Dorothy Kazel, OSU, and Jean Donovan, here.
Learn more about Father Ken Myers here.
Learn more about the CCVI (Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word of Houston, Texas) here.
For an in depth look at the history of the COAR Children’s Village, indicate that you would like a copy of our 96 page publication with your next donation.