This new disease (COVID-19) has drastically and directly revealed Peru's terrible sanitary situation and brought to light other truths, such as the role of industry and society in the pollution of rivers, lakes and oceans, the indifference in society. Globalization takes on a new meaning. Every day we learn how many new cases of corona viruses there are and how many deaths. We have also seen positive effects, such as the great impact on the reduction of pollution, freer animals in their natural habitat and areas inhabited by people, cleaner rivers, clearer skies, more family time, fewer accidents and more time for reflection.
However, quarantine means many cannot go to work. As a result, poverty and hunger are increasing. People have no savings and stockpiling is difficult for many because they have no refrigeration facilities in their homes. The infection rate is high despite the early measures and hospitals have reached their capacity limits. Every day this hardship is getting worse, despite all the efforts of the government. Sr. Beatriz writes: "As Peruvians, our profits have not been cut, not what was left is lost – this is about our livelihood, it is a matter of survival.”
The government ruled out classroom teaching until the end of the school year (i.e. December). This means also our schools will have to switch to online teaching. Online teaching, hygiene requirements, fear of infection are just some of the challenges that our sisters and staff are facing. For example, online teaching in the children's home in Huánuco, brings new challenges for Sr. Carmela because several school-age children in the home need extra attention, dedication and help with learning and homework.
Sr. Magdalena, the headmistress of the state school "101 Shuji Kitamura", communicates via internet and mobile phone with staff to coordinate and organize online lessons for their 2000 students. In addition to leading the school, Sr. Magdalena is also responsible for the management of the educational network in the Santa Anita district.
Our own schools in Lima and Huánuco are private schools. They are under state supervision and, of course, also implement all regulations. However, since state support during the corona crisis does not apply to students in private education, several of our students have taken advantage of the state's offer to transfer to its schools.
For our fellow sisters in school leadership teams it remains key to master these challenges. Discussions were to be held with the authorities, teaching staff and parents. This brought up different needs and necessary reactions for each school. All teachers had to be trained in the use of technology to teach online. For many this was difficult, but they are now adapting to the new normal.
We had to close our retreat house "Alvernia" in Cieneguilla. This meant that groups who had already reserved the house received a refund and our staff had to be sent home. It is still unclear when we can reopen the retreat house and employ staff again. In April, ready-made bread dough was given to the sisters of the convent, as well as gas balloons and an electric oven. So, the sisters began to bake bread themselves to distribute it to needy families together with their own produce such as lemons and plums. With each bag of bread, the sisters gave a blessing and prayed that this small gesture would keep the face of Jesus, who shares the bread, alive in the hearts of the people.
Our polyclinic in Lima had to be closed because of the quarantine. People need this vital service. Therefore, we worked to meet the requirements of the Ministry of Health. Staff who will return to work have already passed the required Covid-19 test and have been trained in the relevant prevention protocols. Everything is in place. But there is not yet an exact date for the reopening, as we are still waiting for the necessary authorisation. General medical treatments and emergency services will be available (treatment room, laboratory, x-ray).
Also closed is the Comedor, the dining room for the children. Their families receive food packages instead.
The sisters in all our facilities try to meet the needs of the people. Many who come to our convents receive food packets. Our Regional Superior, Sr. Fanny, writes: "We continue to care for all those people who are looking for a plate of food, and thanks to the donations sent to us, we can give food to those who need it. A great joy for us is that we receive donations from various people, friends and benefactors of the sisters and the congregation. All donations are used 100% for helping those in need. Food parcels, rent subsidies, paying for medical aid are only some of the projects that are made possible through donations. Sister Fanny expresses the gratitude: "Let us thank God for these people with generous and giving hearts, attentive to the situation of so many people who need help and charity, and let us ask God for his blessing for them and their families.”
One of the current projects of our sisters in Peru is to provide access to online classes for students from families in need. Pupils of the state schools are provided with appropriate terminals by the government. Our schools are private schools. Many of our students come from deprived backgrounds. Although their school costs are covered by sponsorships, they do not have laptops. However, education is the only chance to take their future into their hands. That is why we support the families to get a device with which the children can take part in lessons again.
Your donation and your prayers support these small but important steps with which we help people in Peru.
God bless you!
St Francis Sisters of Vierzehnheiligen
IBAN: DE87 7509 0300 0009 0085 00
Password: Corona Help Peru
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