Mennonite Voluntary Service, also known as SERVOME, has existed since 1951 and is located in Asuncion, Paraguay. It is a Christian social services organization and a joint project of the Mennonite churches who are members of the Evangelical Mennonite Association of Paraguay (AEM-PY is its’ Spanish acronym).
Mennonites are a community that emerged in Europe in the early sixteenth century. They were part of the Protestant movement that based their faith solely in Jesus Christ and the Bible, the living Word of God. Mennonites suffered many difficulties, even persecution, and today they are scattered all over the world. A group of them came as refugees to Paraguay, a country that welcomed them with open arms. They settled mainly in the Chaco region, where they managed to establish and develop themselves with hard work, strong faith, and the help of others.
As a way to give thanks to God and to the country that received them, Mennonites began searching for new ways of creating opportunities to help people in need.
In 1951 the first volunteers began building what is now the Mennonite Hospital Km 81 (on Route 2), which caters especially to those with leprosy. It was also the beginning of the Mennonite Voluntary Service. Both SERVOME and the Mennonite Hospital Km 81 belong to the AEM-PY.
In 1957, a service project began with volunteers at the Neuropsychiatric Hospital in Asuncion and in the following years more fields of service were added.
SERVOME’s motto is “For the love of Christ compels us!” (based on 2nd Corinthians 5:14) and its’ work is based on biblical principles.
SERVOME is currently present in different action areas. Volunteers and employees, who come to serve God and their neighbor, do their service in different units, which have different goals and each having different approaches:
- In the CHILDREN’S AREA, we have three facilities: a DAYCARE CENTER, mostly for children from dysfunctional families and limited financial resources; a SHELTER for children at social risk; and a SCHOOL that offers quality education and school support to these children.
- In the area of “SOCIAL IMPACT”, we have three other units: a REHABILITATION CENTER for people in need of psychosocial care; an EMERGENCY SERVICE that works together with different churches to help in places that have been affected by natural disasters and or other emergency situations; and a SECOND-HAND STORE, where donations of used clothes and accessories are received and sold.
In addition to these facilities, SERVOME also has a RESIDENCE for volunteers and an OFFICE, where everything is managed to ensure that the work is done in an organized and responsible fashion.
By offering help, we believe it is important to consider three stages taken from the example of the biblical story of the Good Samaritan: first, by giving first aid to people that are in socially vulnerable situations; second, by helping bring them out of this situation of extreme need; and third, by enabling them to reach self-sufficiency and autonomy.
Our foundation is Jesus Christ (1st Cor. 3:11), who led a life dedicated to God and who “came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (from Mark 10:45). We believe that through volunteer service we will grow in our spiritual and discipleship life with Jesus. In the service we provide, we take into account body, soul, and spirit of the persons being served. The love of Christ is the same with which we would like to serve: “For the love of Christ compels us.”
The meaning of SERVOME’s logo:
- The cross – symbolizing the cross where Jesus Christ died for the sins of mankind
- The hand – a hand offering help in Jesus’ name
- The empty tomb – Jesus being raised after three days, conquering death, and bringing salvation to those who accept him
- The color – our institutional color is brown, a color that brings us back to the roots and keeps us down to earth, reminding us of our foundation and remaining humble in our service. It is also a color that conveys seriousness and represents the commitment and responsibility with which the work is performed.