A group of Master Guides from Seventh-day Adventist churches in eastern El Salvador joined the effort to battle forest fires that spread across the mountainous region of Arambala in the northern part of the Morazán state last month. More than 250 acres of forest terrain was destroyed by the fires.
A group of more than 20 young people made the treacherous journey to transport water to firefighters, national civil police, civil protection agents and other volunteers who were working to weaken the fires.
Marvin Guzmán, youth ministries director for the Adventist church in East El Salvador, heard the appeal from government officials for young volunteers to assist in the firefighting efforts and called on three Master Guide leaders closest to the region to help.
“We found out that local residents had been battling the flames alongside and the strong winds had complicated the efforts, tiring them after three straight days,” said Olid Rodriguez, a Master Guide from the San Miguel district. Rodríguez, along with fellow Master Guides Amadeo Flores, Jaime Canizales and others, donned hard hats, leather gloves and large sacks to fill with water.
“We had to climb about one kilometer over the mountain to where there was a brook to fill our water backpack, and continue another 1.5 kilometers to where the fires were being put out,” said Flores. “Once there we helped clean up and try to prevent the fire from reviving again.”
Each master guide volunteer made the journey four times up and down the mountain, added Flores.
Thanks to the combined efforts of the volunteers and government agencies, the fire was put out and many communities spared. “Many praised our efforts along the way and gave us water and hot meals as a thank you,” said Flores. “They called us ‘heroes’”.
Salomón Bercián, a member of the Master Guides Club of Jocoro, was delighted to take part in the effort. “It was 6:30 in the morning when I had my devotional and gathered my tools and was ready to answer the call from my church to team up in aiding those in the forefront of the fires,” said Bercián. “As we walked through the mountain, we could see the fumes the fires caused. Once we got to where residents and other volunteers were waiting for us so that together we could accomplish the task at hand.”
Working together as a youth movement is a unique experience and much more when it fulfills the mission of serving God, the church and fellow men, added Bercián. “We give God the honor and glory for the faith and strength He gave us to serve the community during these efforts.”