The El Salvador school for the deaf was born out of a vision that a young man named Natanael Aguilar had while still in his teenage years. After he was married several years, his family went to Belize to live with and study the deaf culture from up close for several months (they had previously studied sign language at a school in San Salvador).
After coming back from Belize, a “by invitation” committee was formed that lasted around a year, but seeing the need for a broader support base they took the following steps:
- The vision was presented to the local church, who gave their approval.
- The vision was then presented at a country-wide Beachy/Amish pastors’ meeting, who gave their approval, and recommended that it would function under the legal umbrella of Servicio Voluntario Menonita de El Salvador (the legal entity under which our Menonite churches in El Salvador function)
- Subsequently, the committee made the appointment and the legal structure of the new committee.
The name of the Deaf School reflects our general goals:
- to provide a school where deaf students can live during the week, returning to their homes for the weekend.
- to teach them a first language and help them develop a commitment to be people that can be of help to society and the church.
- to awaken in them a desire to help others, the way they have been helped.
- to teach about God and help them become His children.
The majority of the students arrive in the morning for classes and stay for dinner. Afterdinner there is time for a small devotional where we intend to the character of God through the stories of the Bible. We involve them in some work projects, but it isn’t a everyday thing. We also take them to church services and translate the preaching into sign language.
Besides teaching the children, we also have the vision of teaching the sign language to as many people as possible in our churches. We haven’t accomplished much in this area, but it’s one of the reasons we put a maximum effort to find our staff from our local churches and then from Central America, so that people here can be trained to reach the deaf culture. Another reason why we search for staff between our churches is to awaken voluntary service without thinking that they have to come from somewhere else to conduct the work of God; instead that people from our midst start with a vision to work.
We have a desire to become self-sustainable, but at the moment we aren’t working much in that area. We operate by donations and it has been a trip of faith!