Year Joined MKLM: 2013
Country: El Salvador
Focus: Education and Pastoral Ministry
Ministry: Youth development in the Community of La India
GOAL: To provide educational, personal development, and recreational opportunities to the underserved children and youth in La India, a semi-rural community outside of Cojutepeque, through San Juan Bautista Parish.
Melissa grew up in North Huntingdon, PA. She has a BS in Communications from La Roche College and a Masters of Education degree in School Counseling from Manhattan College. She served as Director of Campus Ministry at Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School in Brooklyn before coming to MKLM. Melissa enjoys cooking, baking, gardening and seeing new places. Melissa is serving with her husband Peter and accompanied by their two children, Elijah and Evangelina.
Both Melissa and Peter work in La India, a poor, rural community of about 150 families outside of the town of Cojutepeque in the department of Cuscatlan. Poverty is endemic in the zone with many homes lacking electricity and/or running water. Many families struggle to make ends meet. Parents are often absent or working which leads to children spending their days in the streets, making them more vulnerable to the gangs that recruit in the area. The local parish, San Juan Bautista, recently constructed a new parish center in this zone where Melissa and Peter are offering educational support and recreational opportunities to the children and youth of the area.
Melissa and Peter’s ministry addresses the need for programs for the children and youth which the community has identified as a priority. They strive to encourage students to stay in school by offering educational support while encouraging reading and promoting literacy. They also encourage children and youth to develop their unique gifts and talents through recreational activities such as a painting workshop and they seek to build leadership and develop team skills through dynamics and other games. This ministry also seeks to develop leadership in adolescents and the adults of the community by offering them opportunities to use their unique gifts and talents to provide enrichment for the children and youth of the zone.
Melissa and Peter are thrilled that they can incorporate their children into their ministry and allow them opportunities to build relationships with the children of La India.