‘True significance is about impacting others’

‘True significance is about impacting others’

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In a place where many dreams perish, a father and son are reviving hope for a better life — without asking a thing in return.
Earlier this month, Patrick Cochrane and son Brenden returned from an outreach trip to Chiapas, Mexico, where the pair is assisting in the development a 43-hectare ranch to provide family-like homes for orphaned and abandoned children.
“Most people in this world do not live in the luxury that we live in and it’s important for us to show that we care for them and to do something to try and bring about hope to those living in poverty,” Cochrane said.
And he is turning that message into reality in the town of Arriaga.
It’s situated right along the Pan-American Highway and across the street from a major north-south railway, which many Latin Americans have used to travel north in search of a better life in the U.S.
But, faced with unimaginable pressures that stem from a life of destitution, many children are left behind, abandoned by their families.
El Faro de Esperanza is a community organization that is home to 16 orphans, but is not large enough to accommodate the many homeless Latin American children.
Cochrane, 52, who works as an engineering technician for Fisheries and Oceans Canada and lives in Kamloops, and his 24-year-old son Brenden, a surveyor from Grande Prairie, used their vacation leave and joined the 12-person Engineering Ministries International (EMI) team in Chiapas from Sept. 23 to Oct. 6.
EMI is a faith-based consulting firm of engineers, architects and other design professionals who offer their services to Third World countries to help with infrastructure needs.
During their trip, they collaborated with the El Faro Esperanza team, did topographic surveys for the site-development plan and visited construction sites to get a better understanding of local practices.
The plan: cluster housing, a school, a multi-purpose centre and agricultural activities, which not only will provide subsistence, but also an opportunity to develop skills and foster community development.
Some of the buildings are already started, including a guest house on the ranch to house teams of other volunteers helping with the construction of the facilities.
In addition to bettering the lives of others, Cochrane was able to work alongside his son.
“My son actually suggested he wanted to go on an outreach trip with me to help survey,” Cochrane said. 
“[Brenden] said not to make it any nobler than that. He just wanted to ‘hang’ with me — what more can a dad ask for?
“He has only surveyed a year and it was absolutely amazing to share our skills and experience this together.”
The master plan for the site is nearing completion, with the various team members working on it in their spare time now back home. 
All the individual reports will be submitted to EMI, compiled into one professional design plan and given to El Faro de Esperanza, which will help raise the funds necessary to develop their project, Cochrane said.
However, Chiapas isn’t his first outreach trip.
Cochrane has been a part of a number of international relief trips, including journeys to Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala and Uganda.
He and his wife even took a year of unpaid leave from their jobs and volunteered for EMI in Calgary for six months and Guatemala for four months.
“My time with EMI has introduced me to some amazing faith-filled people from around the world who have a heart to help,” he said.
“Sharing and pursing this passion has drawn me deeper into faith as a follower of Jesus Christ and given me great purpose in life.”
Nearly a decade ago, during his first trip to Central America, Cochrane saw the natural beauty of the area juxtaposed against the harsh poverty and despair lived daily by the people.
He was helping a friend, also from Kamloops, survey his property in Belize that was close to the Guatemala border, where people have very little.
Cochrane said there were people living in one-room huts with mud floors, no plumbing, often surrounded by cardboard-clad walls and rusted-out corrugated metal roofing. 
“Barefooted children with worn-out clothing, although appearing to be content, having to help with earning the family income working in the fields, hauling water home or corn to and from the mill,” Cochrane said in describing what he witnessed.
“If I could help someone — my friend who owns property in Belize — who has all the resources for a quality life, surely I could help people in need.”
It’s his faith that also pushed him to help others.
Cochrane saw how much people have in North America and, rather than a blessing, he saw it as a challenge from God to help those less fortunate.
“True significance isn’t about acquiring things in our lives — it’s about impacting others with our life and what we have,” he said.
“That is where I have found the most satisfaction and purpose in the my life. And it’s my hope to encourage and engage as many people from our community to also be a part of this worthwhile force.”

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