McCLURE - The children's faces lit up as they were handed small bracelets made of glow-in-the-dark beads and animal charms.
"You'd have thought we'd given them one million dollars," said Lorrie Gawryla, president of Hope International Services Inc.
Some of the children were orphans, housed at ISNA Orphanage, a government institute for street children, she explained. Others were children who live in impoverished villages in El Salvador where Hope International provides medical care, nutrition and clothing.
Hilary Hearn, left, and Lorrie Gawryla give a young child medical care during a mission trip to El Salvador from March 26 to April 2.
"When you ask them, 'What would you like?' ... (The children) don't ask for toys," she said, adding that they often wish to receive shoes or socks instead.
Gawryla is the founder of Hope International Services Inc., a non-profit organization that provides health care, education and outreach services. One area of service is El Salvador, where Gawryla travels annually with a team of volunteers to provide care to impoverished villages.
The most recent mission trip was held from March 26 to April 2. Her team included David Hearn, physician's assistant and medical adviser, and his wife, Hilary, from southern Huntingdon, and Matthew Kershaw, from Raleigh, N.C., among others.
Gawryla said the team visited El Espino, a disadvantaged village where families live in shelters with tin roofs and dirt floors. While there, volunteers provided clinics to offer families medical care, as well as necessary medicine and vitamins. They also gave families incaprina, a complete protein grain for children, she said.
Also during the trip, volunteers traveled up the mountain to San Vincente, an impoverished area isolated from other local communities.
"We provide the only medical clinic that goes there," Gawryla, who is a registered nurse, said. "... once a year. That's all the medical care they receive."
Gawryla said she mostly treats babies who are sick with high fevers. The babies are placed in tubs of water to cool their bodies, she explained.
In addition to providing treatment, Hope International works to prevent malnourishment and illness in the villages they visit. Kershaw said he helps communities set up clean water filters and teaches people how to use them.
All of the outreach provided by Hope International is funded by individuals, churches and businesses, and each trip costs approximately $10,000, Gawryla said.
The organization hopes to continue the outreach by providing one water filter to each home they serve, a total of 303 filters. Gawryla said each filter and barrel set costs $75. They also plan to provide incaprina powder milk and baby formula to 33 families monthly, at a total cost of $500 per month.
Their mission to serve ISNA Orphanage will continue by providing socks, tennis shoes, shorts and shirts to about 15 children at a cost of $42 per child. They also hope to support the transitional living program for orphans at $300 per team. Gawryla said when children graduate from ISNA at age 18, the program helps provide them with housing while orphans transition back into the community.
"We definitely need sponsors for all of these," she said.
The mission trips to El Salvador are a way to help others physically, but also spiritually, David Hearn explained. Every aspect of the visit is a chance to show others that, "Jesus is real, and Jesus cares," he said.
"God says we're supposed to treat the poor," added Hilary.
She cited James 1:27 which states, "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their time of need, and be holy."
"It challenged me as an individual," she said, adding that there is an inherent responsibility to help those in need, "especially if we have the means to do it."
In addition to medical clinics, the team said they provide community teachings on hygiene, first aid and parasite prevention.