Spotlight on Peruvian Associates
BY SISTER GAYLE DESARMIA
From November 27 to December 13, 2019, Associate Wen Bogues and I travelled to Peru to visit the Sisters and Associates in Carabayllo. A highlight of the time in Peru was the opportunity to visit several Peruvian Associates in their places of work and witness their ministry to those in need.
Our experience in the field of education began with a pre-school operated by Associate Aurora Ángeles in El Progreso. The 3-5 year old children were delighted with our visit and we were delighted when they sang for us. The 5-year old children in particular were keen to have their photographs taken.
Our next experience was of a new and very poor high school in Torre Blanca. Each class had its own dilapidated wooden portable classroom. The school’s location saves the students a daily trek to another high school further away. The people are hopeful that they will soon be able to access public funds to make the much needed improvements. Associate Marcela Esperanza teaches there in the morning and in another high school in El Progreso in the afternoon. We were privileged to visit and greet each class of students.
Our final school visit was to an elementary and high school in Collique, Comas where Associate Hector Reyes is the principal. This school was very large and well established but some of the wooden classrooms need to be replaced. Hector is hoping that they will soon be able to access the necessary funds for this work to proceed. Here we visited both an elementary and a high school classroom. At each of these two high schools, classrooms are laid out around a central cement pad where the students play sports.
The Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul through the Marillac Mission Fund sponsor a number of students in their educational endeavours. These students because of financial constraints would not be able to pursue higher education. These students meet monthly to discuss and share Christian values and other items of interest. Wen and I were privileged to be present for two such gatherings of these students and it was truly inspiring to hear these future leaders sharing and discussing their hopes for their country.
Peru has 145 universities. Of those able to give licentiates, 42 are private and 41 are public. The others are in the process of gaining accreditation.
In the field of healthcare, medical doctor and Associate Jaime Sosa invited us to visit the Health Centre in Raul Porras Barrenchea where he works. We were able to tour the facility, meet the staff and interact with some of the clients. In particular we were able to visit a seniors’ program offered by the staff. Another day physiotherapist and Associate Maritza Oblitas invited us to be present during a physiotherapy session to assist a woman with cerebral palsy to walk. (More in Canadian Associate meets Peruvian Associates)
One very special highlight of our visit was the invitation to be present at the 50th Anniversary celebration of the Health Centre in El Progreso. Sister Rose-Marie Bokenfohr who was instrumental in its establishment, was honoured at this event. (More in Special Anniversary)
On another day we visited a small shop in Los Olivos where local artisans sell their handiwork at a fair price. Associate Petit Fernández is involved with the operation of this tiny shop. The quality of the workmanship was indicative of the pride that these artisans take in their craft.
Two special outings rounded out our time in Peru. The first was a drive in the countryside north of El Progreso through small villages and large plantation fields where many campesinos work from dawn each day. The second was the opportunity to spend a day in Metropolitan Lima as tourists. We visited the historic Plaza de Armas and toured the museums at the Cathedral and the Dominican Convent which features the Peruvian Saints Rose of Lima and Martin de Porres. The day was completed in the tourist district with a delicious meal at Café de la Paz and time to shop for gifts in the Indian marketplace.
Tucked into these very full two weeks was our participation at a meeting of the Peruvian Associates. The gathering included prayer and sharing of stories, mail from Canada and refreshments. We left the meeting with a better understanding of our Peruvian Associates.