In Peru, we are proud to work with the Sisters of St Joseph to improve quality of life for children and adults living in one of the world’s poor and least developed countries. We spoke with two Sisters about their experiences working on the margins in one of the world’s poorest and most underdeveloped countries.
Sister Charo Zurita is the Project Coordinator of our School Agricultural Project, which is teaching young students how to grow vegetables and raise small livestock. She divides her time between Macarí, located 4,000 metres above sea level in the Peruvian Andes, and San Juan del Oro, a district in the jungle. Both places are extremely remote and hard to access. Basic necessities such as fresh vegetables are hard to find and there are limited opportunities for work.
“In these communities, fresh produce and protein for a healthy diet are not available. We realised however, it was possible to give children access to a healthy diet by teaching them about growing vegetables and farming at school,” Sister Charo explained.
Thanks to your support, Sister Charo and our local partner, Fe y Alegría, have established vegetable gardens at schools and homes, and taught students about caring for small livestock such as guinea pigs and chickens.
Now in its final year, Sister Charo says your support for the program has made a life-changing difference.
“The project is helping everybody in the community. We have seen how it is possible – despite hardships – to help these communities have a healthy diet by growing their own vegetables and raising guinea pigs.
“Students, teachers and families are able to be more responsible with their own health. They have noticed a healthy diet adds benefits into their daily life.”
Eight years ago, Sister Clare Conaglen established the Mary MacKillop Hausi Centre in response to the urgent and unmet need for therapy services for children and youth with disability living on the outskirts of Lima. Today, the centre provides multidisciplinary therapy services, educational and social support to children and families who would otherwise have no access to services or may be excluded from the community.
With the support of Mary MacKillop Today, the Sisters of St Joseph have built dedicated therapy rooms on the grounds of the Parroquia (Parish Church) Nuestra Señora de La Paz in a marginalised, but fast growing community. With professional therapists providing subsidised one-on-one sessions, the centre has grown to support more than 90 children and their families.
The pandemic has brought significant challenges for the centre, but also created the opportunity to engage more deeply with family members. Sister Clare says fundraising support from Mary MacKillop Today has been critical in ensuring the centre has remained open, particularly in this challenging time.
“There’s an important need, a huge need [for disability services] in countries like Peru where they have all the right ideas, but not always the personnel or the money to be able to support people with disabilities. Your support is what has kept us going over the years.”