Dear Columban Friend,
Several years ago, we asked you to support Columban Fr. Ed O’Connell’s projects in San Benito township in Lima, Peru. San Benito is one of the poorest townships in Lima, and in this case, where there is poverty, there is malnutrition and family violence. Your generous support allowed Fr. Ed to start two projects, The Nutrition Project for Young Children and The Prevention of Family Violence Project. Now, both projects are well known in San Benito and have earned the confidence of both the people and the town leaders.
In 2010, the Nutrition Project Consultancy Program served 322 mothers of children under the age of five years, provided 122 home visits, held nine nutrition workshops, screened 188 children for anemia and parasites, participated in World Food Day activities at three schools and worked with many teachers to help them detect and monitor the signs of malnutrition in their students. It was a busy year!
The demand created by the nutrition project pushed the health ministry to provide a nutritionist four days a week instead of only twice a month. The network of mothers and kindergarten teachers to detect and monitor cases of malnutrition and those children at risk of malnutrition, grew and is functioning well as are our workshops demonstrating the use of nutritive food in our center’s kitchen. The biggest gain has been the formation of the township health committee in coordination with the local medical clinic. The committee provides a channel of communication with the local hospital and will eventually increase the services in the medical clinic according to the demands from the local health committee. We are educating and mentoring the mothers who participate in our program so that they can take their rightful place on the committee.
The Prevention of Family Violence Project has developed two networks to raise awareness about family violence. The primary network is made up of mothers who participate in the nutrition program and mothers of children who attend the local schools. The secondary network is comprised of teachers from the local schools, government agencies and local authorities. Both of these networks raise awareness about family violence and that it is not normal even though it frequently occurs. In 2010, they held ten awareness raising workshops, three public events with videos and theater presentations, and six activities that provided training to our volunteers. In all, 351 people benefited from the activities and 42 volunteers were trained who will help the program’s outreach into the community continue to grow.
These projects continue improve the quality of life of the people of San Benito, especially the children. They also help to change attitudes regarding family violence which is sadly much more difficult to prevent than malnutrition. However, we continue to work toward the goal of healthy children in violence free homes. With your support, many positive changes in the community have occurred, and the groundwork is there upon which to build in the future.
It is with deep gratitude that we thank you for your continued support as we further the work of the Kingdom. Columban missionaries worldwide will remember you and your intentions during our prayers and Masses in June.
Gratefully yours in Christ,
Fr. Arturo Aguilar