Our cover girl for our 2017 Annual Benefit is Fatima, sporting a beautiful blue butterfly “tattoo” from Christmas 2016. Here is a story about her from 2015: Several years ago, COAR welcomed our first child with Down Syndrome. She is a wonderful girl with a bright and lively spirit who only wants to please. Thanks to the efforts of our Salvadoran director, a local non-profit organization called “Paradise Down” has donated a second year of free services to COAR. As you can imagine, Down Syndrome children need a broad array of support. Our goal is to mainstream our special needs children as much as is possible and to prepare them for life as adults outside of our facility. We cannot thank Paradise Down enough for the free classes and therapy sessions that they are providing.
Paradise Down was founded in 2008 by a group of Salvadoran parents who were aware of the needs and the difficulties that Down Syndrome people confront in El Salvador. They founded this NGO with the goal of informing, raising awareness, guiding families and society, and seeking donations from institutions, businesses, governments and concerned citizens and channeling those funds to serve this needy sector of Salvadoran Society.
COAR is a better place for having welcomed Fatima to our family and our community. In a society racked by gang violence and poverty, we find that all of the children have come to understand, respect and support their fellow residents with special needs.
It is truly a testimony to founder Father Ken that COAR has successfully transitioned from a refuge for starving and abandoned civil war orphans into a foster care facility that not only serves poor, abused, neglected or at-risk children, but also is a community – a family – that truly lives its mission to be the tangible and real expression of the Gospel that not only develops each child’s full human potential but also contributes to the betterment of the world in which they live.