Zaragoza – COAR’s Hometown

Zaragoza is the town in which COAR began...and still thrives.

From the beginning in 1980 the community rallied around Fr. Ken and their parish of Nuestra Señora del Pilar. Before the children could move to our current location (up the hill) the townsfolk took orphans into their homes, sometimes nursing them along with their own newborns, supplied food from their small means, clothes and toys, and most of all: love and security.
The mayor, parish pastor, and all the businesses in town interact with COAR constantly. Together they make a strong village, and we all know it takes a village to raise a child.

Zaragoza faces challenges, like all communities in El Salvador.

Violence from organized crime gangs is a large problem in all of El Salvador and in Zaragoza, in particular. (Learn more from this PBS documentary)
We do our best to raise the children with skills, confidence, and the moral compass to avoid the temptation, pressure, or need to join a gang. Your gifts make that possible.

The Parish of Nuestra Señora del Pilar

The parish is the center of the community and is packed on Sundays. The old adobe church was lost in the great earthquakes of 2001 and this new space took many years to build. The parishioners raised most of it themselves, one dollar at a time and in the face of extortion from the gangs, but it was worth it!

Today, the parish priest is a familiar figure around the COAR school and the Children’s Village. He celebrates weekly Mass and special holy days at the school and does a wonderful job of integrating COAR into the ongoing parish activities in town.