A Mother is Found

Adela with Gladys

Thirty years ago, Gladys lost her son…but more than that, she may have lost herself and her family. She left everything she knew and began to wander from her native El Salvador, migrating north and living in the streets. She became a broken woman, and she lost all contact with her family and left her native country to head to Mexico. We know little more than that about Gladys and her years of wandering, other than the fact that she showed up at a homeless shelter adjoining the local hospital in Juchitan, Oaxaca over 30 years after she disappeared from her family.

That’s when she met the fourteen wonderful young women who are part of el Centro de Compartimiento, a program that was created to develop leaders out of young Oaxacan women from indigenous villages. Many of these girls would have quit school after sixth grade, but a caring group of Mexican and American people decided that wasn’t ok. They worked together to remove the largest barrier to these girls being able to study—a place to stay in the city where they could access higher education. But that’s not all that happened. El Centro de Compartimiento developed a vision of a creating a different kind of leadership in Oaxaca—Servant Leadership. These girls have begun to live into that vision—they serve the poor, those with special needs, the environment and the homeless—like Gladys.

The girls met Gladys while helping feed and bathe the elderly who sometimes come at night to sleep in the homeless shelter in Juchitan. They started to notice that Gladys wasn’t just passing through, but she didn’t seem to have anywhere to go or anyone to care for her. Some of our girls know how that feels, and as a result, they “adopted” Gladys and spent a month helping feed and care for her. Gradually out of that friendship, Gladys began to talk about her past, especially about where she was from. She began to name the places, and after looking them up on the internet, the girls realized that Gladys was from a small town in El Salvador. They began the search to see if they could find any family that Gladys might still have.

The first thing they did was to contact the immigration officials in Mexico; they came and talked with Gladys. They told the girls and Adela, our board chair, that Gladys was Mexican. The girls weren’t convinced. Adela contacted the Salvadorian consul, and he did some further research. It turns out that Gladys is in fact Salvadorian and she still has family living in El Salvador! Currently we are arranging for Gladys to be reunited with her family! Praise God!

For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate. Luke 15:24

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