During the 2018 Lenten season, we’ll share the work of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur from around the world. We hope you in turn will share their work with your family, friends, students and faculty by email or by posting each Lenten Snapshot on a bulletin board or via Facebook or Twitter. Image (right): Map of Peru.
Providing Disaster Relief in Peru
Sisters Juana Rivera Jara, Evelyn Fitzke, Miriam Montero Bereche and Consuelo Zapata Crisanto live in the Peruvian Pacific coastal region of Piura, in the town of Tambogrande. They work in the town’s health center. In Spring 2017, torrential El Niño rains pounded the region. Flood waters devastated whole villages washing away houses, schools, health centers, roads, bridges and vast areas of crops. In the flood’s wake, disease spread through the area.
In spite of human rights progress, marginalized people continue to be impacted. Notably, lack of clean drinking water and inadequate sewage treatment put the population’s health at risk.
The biggest challenge facing the Sisters and the other medical staff at the Tambogrande health center is the deadly outbreak of dengue hemorrhagic fever and chikungunya, viral diseases transmitted by mosquitoes as well as the threat of cholera.
The people who come to the Tambogrande clinic are very poor and often come great distances from rural communities that surround the town. Reaching the health center is a major challenge with rivers and creeks swollen, and roads and bridges destroyed. With bean fields washed away by the floods, livestock drowned in the rivers and mudslides, this is a humanitarian crisis.Caption: Flooding after El Niño rains in Spring 2017. Even the local ambulance got stuck in the strong currents of the swollen river!
Once the people arrive, they need to pay for basic supplies, such as needles, IV equipment, bandages and medicines. They do not have health insurance nor do they have any money. Tambogrande’s health center, made of brick, is still standing, but desperately under-equipped and under-staffed. The floodwaters reach the walls of the health clinic and are now a breeding ground of mosquitoes. There are not enough beds, mosquito nets or other essential equipment. Caption: Children are among the most vulnerable in a dengue epidemic. Sister Juana Rivera Jara starts an IV on a child in the Emergency Room. The recent floods resulted in a proliferation of the mosquito that transmits the deadly infection.
Sisters Juana, a nurse and Consuelo, a nursing student, conduct home visits in destitute neighborhoods. Sister Miriam, a psychologist, provides post-traumatic stress counseling to individuals and families traumatized by the flooding. Sister Evelyn visits the elderly through their St. Julie Senior Adult Program and ensures that they have essential medications and food.
Together with the Sisters' community, they work with the local parish to obtain and distribute food and medicine to devastated neighborhoods of people living in poverty. Caption: Sisters Juana Rivera Jara and Consuelo Zapata Crisanto (center and right) interview a resident in a shantytown on their rounds as community nurses.
Sister Miriam accompanied the parish youth group to the destroyed town of Catacaos. The group distributed emergency packages of food to families living on the side of the road, under plastic sheeting or in tents. This project, initiated by people who themselves have lost so much shows how even the most vulnerable find ways to reach others who have even less. The Sisters feel blessed to offer some relief.
During the Lenten season, we are most grateful for your support in helping our Sisters provide medical care, clean water as well as educate for life, especially to the people of Peru. Caption: Sister Evelyn Fitzke visits an elderly man in a small village, bringing medication and food supplies.
Peru is a bio diverse country with habitats ranging from the arid plains of the western Pacific coast, the Andes mountains extending from the north to the southeast, and to the tropical Amazon Basin rainforest and river in the east. Noted as the home of ancient cultures — Notre Chico in the 32nd century BC and the Inca Empire, in the 16th century, today Peru is a representative democratic republic. With 25 regions and 31 million people, Peru’s citizens are Amerindians, Europeans, Africans and Asians. Its main economic activities are mining, manufacturing, agriculture and fishing. Peru is classified as an emerging market with a poverty rate of approximately 20% and 9% living in extreme poverty.
Caption: Sister Miriam Montero Bereche (right) and the parish youth group distribute emergency packages of food for families living under plastic sheeting or in tents.
Caption: Children and parents sit outside to eat packets of food that were just distributed.