The pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) has been developing two vital projects for the most needy communities in Colombia’s Pacific coast region.

Both initiatives — the construction of a church in the port city of Buenaventura and solar panels for the Dominican sisters’ home in Docordó in the Chocó region — are aimed at helping people who suffer from economic deprivation, violence, abandonment, and social conflicts.

“Faithful to its pillars and its charisma, ACN continues to build a bridge of charity between those who need help and those who can help; certainly, we would not achieve this without the generosity of our benefactors,” said María Inés Espinosa Calle, executive director of ACN in Colombia, in a recent interview published by the charity.

According to Espinosa, support for projects like these in the Colombian Pacific region but also in many parts of the world “continues extending a hand so that the Church remains present where the love of God is most needed.”

“We are very happy to help bring relief and true hope to these populations,” she emphasized.

Construction of a parish church

Father Lawrence Ssimbwa, a Consolata missionary from Uganda and pastor of St. Martin de Porres Parish in Buenaventura, and his entire community hope to have a new church thanks to help from ACN.

The territory in this port area includes five neighborhoods and 12 basic Christian communities, with approximately 30,000 Catholic faithful.

“Like many of the parishes in Latin America, that of St. Martín de Porres faces complex challenges: extreme poverty, violence, young people immersed in illegal groups, and pregnancies of girls and teens, among others. ACN’s support for the construction of the church will be the best thing that happens to the parish,” the priest noted.

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Currently, the parish literally operates out of a house, using the living room and garage. Space is insufficient, especially on holy days or Sundays. Despite the active and fervent community, community activities are limited by the lack of adequate space.

ACN aims to raise 70,000 euros (about $74,000) to begin making the dream of Ssimbwa and his community come true.

Solar energy in the middle of the Chocó jungle

Dominican sisters Mercy Eneida Mendoza, Rubiela Ramírez Ramírez, and Consuelo Giraldo reside in Docordó in the Diocese of Istmina-Tadó, also in the Chocó region. Earlier this year, they presented an alternative energy project for their community, and in late August, they finally had continuous electricity thanks to the installation of solar panels generously funded by ACN benefactors. This project cost approximately 10,000 euros (about $10,600).

“We benefit a lot; it gives us peace of mind, because, imagine this jungle, this place without energy, that remains, as they say, like the wolf’s den... if anything, the only thing you see is the moon shining on the river. We are extremely grateful to ACN,” Sister Mercy said.

Today, with constant access to electricity, the sisters are able to provide assistance to their neighbors, who are often limited by only a few hours a day of electricity. Furthermore, it allows them to focus fully on their pastoral tasks, especially their educational work for children and young people.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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