Central America was hit back-to-back by two major hurricanes in November 2020: Hurricanes Eta and Iota. In the aftermath, Compassion’s church partners responded, even in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

“We left our house on Sunday when we heard the hurricane warning,” says eight-year-old José. “The day after, we heard our house had been destroyed.”

It’s devastation that no child should have to endure. Thankfully, José and his family had a place to go.

“We opened the doors of the church and the centre to the children. We told them to take refuge here before the storm hit,” says Adela, the pastor of Compassion’s local church partner in the village of Virgen Morena, Nicaragua. “When the rain started, we opened the doors and prepared food, drinks and blankets. In the middle of the night, staff and children were running from their homes to come here, many of whom are part of Compassion and many are from the community.”

A boy in a navy blue t-shirt wears a somber expression and leans against a doorframe.

José stands outside one of the classrooms at his Compassion centre, which has temporarily been converted into a bedroom to shelter families displaced by the storm.

Because of the centre’s constant, reliable assistance and protection provided to the community, it has become an official government-appointed shelter.

Of course, COVID-19 safety protocols are a top priority, even in the midst of the chaos. Staff and church leaders work to maintain an atmosphere of peace and tranquility, despite the looming stress of the losses families have suffered and the threat of COVID-19. They have put in place strict measures to ensure the health and safety of the families who are taking refuge at the centre.

“We provided face masks, hand soap and hand sanitizer that we had received from the Compassion program,” says Pastor Adela.

A girl sits on a log, in front of a mattress.

Four-year-old Michel sits outside with her mattress that is drying in the sun.

The disaster has delayed the centre’s reopening plans after an eight-month closure due to COVID-19. But that isn’t dampening the centre staff’s resolve to support their community when they need it most. “We want to continue having a positive impact on the community. This is when our children need us most, so this is when we have to be with them the most,” says the centre’s director, Ana. “Families and children need to know that they’re not alone.”

“With God’s help—and if we work together—we’ll make it through this,” says Pastor Adela.


As always, if your sponsored child and their family were directly affected by an environmental disaster, we will contact you with more information about the impact and how you can help.


Beyond the COVID-19 crisis, several other crises, including environmental disasters, have affected the countries where Compassion works this year. Read more about our disaster response efforts around the world.

Read more


Photos and field reporting by Junieth Dinarte

Alyssa Esparaz

Alyssa Esparaz

Alyssa is Compassion Canada's Manager of Content and Public Relations, telling stories that inspire and equip Jesus followers to live compassionate lifestyles. She is a recent graduate of the University of Toronto, where she studied International Development.