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Vietnam Veteran to Visit El Salvadorian Orphanages

BY MELANIE BUCK –

A local veteran has had a project laid upon his heart and plans to put it into action next month. Cliff ‘Pops’ Bauman, a Vietnam Veteran who lives in Acorn has heard of a place in El Salvador that has many orphanages, of which are in need of clothing, amongst other items, and he plans to take a trip to see for himself. “When you hear about some of these countries and what’s going on there, you really can’t just take that without going to see for yourself,” explained Bauman. “I’m going down for two weeks to take a look around the country and see what can be done.”

He said that the idea for his trip came from listening to his nephew and niece-in-law talk about the desolation in El Salvador, especially near the town of Hoffa. “It’s a country with one of the highest crime and corruption rates in the world. There are way more orphanages than should be.” His nephew’s wife has family there, and they make the trip every few months or so, packing as many extra clothing items as they can to deliver to the orphanages. “You can only take a 50 pound bag,” explained Bauman. “They fill their bags up with clothes for the orphans and take very little for themselves.”

The area Bauman will visit is in a farming district where people earn only $3 per day for their hard efforts. As Bauman put it, “It’s hard for them to support the orphanages” on those wages. “There is a place in the area where it costs $25 per month to send a child to school. It makes it impossible for many to be educated. I want to go see for myself how it is,” he explained.

Although he isn’t taking any clothing donations for this trip, he thinks he will know more when he gets back. Set to leave on May 14th and return on May 26th, his plans include finding out whether it is more economically viable to have clothing shipped or to take it personally through luggage. “I know there is a proper way to go about it. The ones who have done it so far, they put it in their own luggage and take it. I’m going to check out the economics to see if shipping is more economical than making a trip to take it.”

Bauman will be traveling with his nephew and oldest son on the trip. “They don’t really have interpreters and so you either have to learn the language or have someone that speaks the language,” he said.

Bauman hopes his trip will remind others of how many people in the world need a little help. “I hope it makes people realize that there are people right here that need help. Maybe to a lesser degree, but we are a community and most of us are Christians. Maybe more people will start thinking of other people instead of themselves.”

If you would like to become involved, contact Cliff at 479-234-2937. Once he comes back, he will know more about when he will either ship items or carry them over. At that time, the local Fraternal Order of the Eagles, of which Bauman is a member, will help with collections.

“It’s a new adventure for me at the age of 70. I’ve been doing a little bit of research on the country and past U.S. involvement… there isn’t a too favorable opinion of Americans. We are actually responsible for a lot of their orphanages. I’m getting near the end of my time and I think about the young kids down there that are just starting life. I served in Vietnam and other countries that were desolate, and I am now in a time in my life that I can do something about that.”

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