An update from Columban Fr. Ed O’Connell about the pandemic situation in Peru:
The total number of cases of coronavirus in Peru on 9/12/2020 was 722,832 with 50.7% in Lima and Callao, and 30,526 deaths. The curfew in Peru is from 10pm to 4am. Sundays have again been declared lockdown days. Family and other social gatherings have been banned as well as religious ceremonies.
I accompany Manuel Duato Special Needs School, a Columban project. The teachers are in virtual contact with the parents and through them with nearly 400 children. We have helped 44 families on three occasions, who have little to no income, the third time was last week. The teachers are exhausted and worried. Six students have covid19, all still in treatment, with one still in danger. Fifty six parents have covid19; four fathers have died; 36 in treatment and only 14 have recovered. Of the staff, eight teachers and fifteen of their family members have covid19; nine family members have died.
The Warmi Huasi project accompanies children at risk in both San Benito, in the district of Carabayllo, and in the Province of Paucar de Sara, high up in the Andes mountains in the department of Ayacucho. Our Warmi Huasi team in Ayacucho is in touch constantly with the parents, teachers and municipal officials about the welfare of the children. We have completed a virtual training program for all teachers of the Province of Paucar de Sara on bio-security for themselves and prepared them in turn to communicate the same message to all their students, mostly by whatsapp. We have given out all the books from the reading clubs so that the children have the books to read at home. We also have radio with the children, telling stories and getting them to send in their stories.
In San Benito, the mothers of the four homework clubs continue to run their communal kitchens and a key local community leader started another. The number of families helped in the five communal kitchens is now 156, with an average of 5 persons per family, we have 780 people receiving meals each day. In the communal kitchen, run out of the chapel in San Benito, they have 10 elderly people and a single mother with her 5 children as social cases. We have been helping them with the purchase of food stocks, especially vegetables, and with bio-security equipment.
The Venezuelan family of six, that were living on a flat roof in the rain, have been housed. Through our network of contacts, the mother is now school keeper of a small primary school. They have a big room, which they can divide into various spaces for the four children and the parents. Through funds I have received, we have been able to get them beds and mattresses, a table, chairs, gas for their cooker and a few utensils. Another family has been helped with medicines. There are a lot of good people who are helping those in need here in Peru and in many countries where the Columbans live and work.
The people try to be resilient. They keep going and many share what they have with others when the need arises. Many Peruvians started their lives in poverty and gradually improved their lot but now many, of the 70% whose work is in the informal sector, are destined to return to poverty.