By Anna Monteviller,
WMF Peru Director
We often say something like, “everything is in God’s hands,” but our daily lives and the relative control we have over how we spend our days convince us otherwise. But today, maybe more than ever in our memory, most of humanity’s daily schedule, routines and freedom of movement are interrupted. And while we are all experiencing an acute vulnerability due to COVID 19, nature is resting from us. We are already seeing changes- the creation is quickly healing and restoring itself. I ask myself, “Will we pay attention and seek healing as well?”
What I am seeing is solidarity, empathy, and multiple acts of service to others around the globe.
Any yet in difficult times the poor always suffer more. Socially vulnerable people are affected more. Our society is confronted with acknowledging the existence of the poor. Those who live in or make their living on the street are the only ones walking the streets these days.
Our government is actually some of our most vulnerable: those with very low incomes, elderly people are being taken care of, and those experiencing homelessness are being offered shelter. Some of our partner organizations who work directly with people living on the street have reported to us that many of these most vulnerable are being fed and clothed in temporary shelters.
And yet there are also many tragedies in the hills surrounding our city. I am speaking about the homes which do not yet have a road leading to them, where the water trucks aren’t making rounds. These are the families who are literally living a day-to-day existence. These are the families who struggle to find clean water to drink, so the instructions, “Wash your hands for 20 seconds!” seem like an absolute waste of resources.
Eight days ago the Peruvian government ordered a country-wide lockdown. No one is allowed out of their homes to work, save health workers, civil servants, and those in food distribution and sale.
Once the lockdown order was disseminated here, our concern grew for the large quantities of people in Word Made Flesh Peru’s network whose livelihood depends on products sold on the street. So we started reaching out to as many heads of household as we could through phone calls and text messages. Thankfully, at this point, all of them responded with something similar to, “Thanks to God, we are fine.”
Some of the women wanted to think beyond their immediate families and help their neighbors too- as community organizers. One women in particular created a list of 14 homes in her neighborhood, Collique, and after receiving from money through our emergency fund, she bought sacks of staple goods and distributed them.
I know this experience can be replicated in other areas with our other contacts around the city! Our contacts are the young families with whom we have been working for years, many of whom themselves lived on the streets throughout their childhoods. Like this woman in Collique, I am confident that more of them can become living examples of positive change and inspiring service, of ordinary people helping other people.
Let’s not let “social isolation” be something that divides us, nor an excuse to turn away from solidarity with each other. Let’s allow this forced isolation to spur creativity, that our shared mission might be bringing faith, hope, and bread to our neighbors.
Pray with us!
- That God would watch over us as we continue to work creatively during this pandemic
- That the city would invest in water and sewer utilities for the poorest areas (Collique has a large population, in the thousands, and most do not have municipal water nor sewer)
- For protection for the poorest families from the spread of COVID 19, due to their difficulty in accessing proper hygiene.
Reasons to be Thankful
- That all of our contacts living around the city are presently doing ok.
- For those who responded with financial resources to help us deliver the first round of emergency aid.
- For the response of our friend in Collique, who showed her willing spirit to help her neighbors.
- That the Peruvian government actually delivered on a cash payment to some of our most vulnerable populations
- For our partner organizations who continue to support and work with vulnerable populations during these difficult times.