AMMPARO: Sunday School Lenten Project – 2018

Good Shepherd AAMPARO Celebrates First Anniversary —

A year ago this month, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church became the first AMMPARO Welcoming Congregation in the Northeast Iowa Synod. AMMPARO is an ELCA program serving young people from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, countries in Central America’s “Northern Triangle”, with some of the highest murder and violence rates in the world. AMMPARO stands for Accompanying Migrant Minors with Protection, Advocacy, Representation, and Opportunities. In Spanish, the word “amparo” means protection, refuge, or shelter.

Grant Received:  Good Shepherd recently received one of the ELCA ‘s $5,000 grants to Welcoming Congregations for 2018. The grant, developed in consultation with other local immigration advocacy programs such as Path to Citizenship and the Northeast Iowa Peace and Justice Center, provides funds to help cover medical, dental, and mental health costs for young people in Northeast Iowa who are applying for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status. SIJS creates a legal path to a green card and eventual citizenship for youth abused or abandoned by their parents, who seek protection from violence in the U.S.

Part of the SIJS application process is a thorough and specialized immigration physical, which can cost $1,000 or more. Normally, the young person must cover this expense, a serious hardship for someone without legal permission to work. Many of the Central American youth have not had regular dental care and are experiencing serious dental problems. Others experienced severe trauma during their weeks or months traveling north and need counseling for the aftermath of this trauma. The need for financial resources to help with these expenses is clear, and there are already requests for financial assistance from the grant.

Sunday School Project:  Luckily, Good Shepherd’s Sunday School chose the AMMPARO program as their Lenten project, and their goal is to raise an additional $2,000, with the help of the Good Shepherd congregation. At each Wednesday and Sunday service during Lent, donations can be dropped into a medical bag near the altar during the offering time.

Coordinators:  Marty Steele and Pastor Marion Pruitt-Jefferson are the AMMPARO coordinators at Good Shepherd, and coordinate closely with the Social Concerns Committee at Good Shepherd and other local immigration advocacy groups.