BY SISTER GAYLE DESARMIA
This year the Providence Associates in Peru have undertaken an important ministry to the very poor in their area. After evaluating their own ministries and the needs present in the area of Carabayllo, they have decided to focus their ministry this year in Fray Martin de Porres.
Fray Martin de Porres is a remote and very needy village further up in the mountains than El Progreso, where the Sisters of Providence live. Previously, monies from the Marillac Mission Fund were used to build a small chapel for the people. This chapel serves as a multi-purpose meeting place for the residents of this village. Fray Martin, located in Our Lady of Guadalupe parish, is in an agricultural area commonly referred to as ‘el campo.’ This area has been the main focus of ministry for Sister Sara Jimenez.
In addition to offering their friendship and support, the Peruvian Associates’ had three goals for their Ministry:
1. To offer assistance as educators to both parents and children
2. To offer health services to the people
3. To celebrate the feast of St. Vincent de Paul with the people
On September 15 last year, the Associates made their initial visit to Fray Martin to offer their services in the areas of healthcare, education and entertainment to the people.
Between May and September this year, the Associates made three more visits to Fray Martin.
May 10 the teachers among the Associates offered friendship and support to both children and parents. First they met with the children, engaging them in educational activities and games. When the parents returned from their work in the fields, the Associates discussed educational issues with them.
August 24 the healthcare workers among the Associates went to Fray Martin and set up a health clinic in the little chapel where they were able to offer education, basic medical assistance and advice. Among the Associates were a doctor, a nurse, an oncologist and a massage therapist. With the help of the Marillac Mission Fund, Sister Rose-Marie Bokenfohr was able to give out select medications.
The Associates’ third visit this year took place on September 20 when they celebrated the feast of St. Vincent de Paul with a paraliturgy, shared food and song.
While unable to change many factors in the lives of the residents of Fray Martin de Porres, the Associates reached out in love and compassion. The people of this poverty-stricken village now know in a tangible way that the Providence Associates are interested in them and care about their well-being.