With more than 67,000 reported cases last week and almost 2,000 deaths, the COVID-19 crisis continues to worsen in Peru. And Buckner Peru continues to respond with food and family support as the need escalates.
Claudia Leon, executive director for Buckner Peru, said the situation has placed an extreme burden on citizens, government and businesses.
"The two largest hospitals in Lima are overwhelmed with patients, with people waiting at the hospitals for attention, and some dying while they wait," she said.
She added the situation "in the northern part of Peru and in the Amazon jungle is even worse than Lima" and shared a photo "of people waiting out in the grass outside the hospital in Loreto in the Amazon jungle. In Tumbes, the funeral homes are full so they are leaving the caskets in the streets."
The effects of the virus are most often felt at street-level, she said, where "most of the women have to go to the market and the tests that have been done with those working in the market show that 90% have the virus."
Buckner Family Hope Center families are also affected.
"One of our clients from the Family Hope Center at Villa Hermosa, is in the economic strengthening program. She seems to have COVID-19. She has had the symptoms with headaches, fever and body aches for the past eight days. Finally, a doctor came to see her and said she probably has the virus, but he did not have any test kits," Leon said.
Leon asked for prayer for the young lady, who recently had sent a video to Buckner expressing her gratitude for food aid brought to her a week before she became ill.
On the video, she tells Buckner Peru staff:
"Good morning to Buckner Peru and everyone. I am immensely happy and thankful to have received food that was delivered to the door of my house! Thank you so much to the Buckner Peru team and to every one of my angels from the top to the bottom – to all of my brothers and the beautiful family of Buckner Peru. I am so happy and so thankful to have received this great help that will greatly serve my needs. I feel so happy and thanks again so much. Thank you!"
Buckner is providing families food aid in the form of Manna Packs, which contain essential grains and other food items that can be used to create meals.
Buckner is also providing emotional and economic support.
Dexton Shores, Buckner senior executive director for international ministries, said Buckner Peru's response has been "amazing. Our amazing team has continued to make a difference in the lives of our clients, in spite of all the tremendous challenges and obstacles they face. The phrase, 'We will overcome' now has a new meaning for me after seeing the whole picture of what they are doing."
Among the ways Buckner is helping clients and other families affected by the pandemic:
Creating economic opportunity
When Sara*, a client of the Family Hope Center at Villa Hermosa lost her job due to the virus, Buckner staff helped her connect with local food suppliers to create a "market at home" and promoted the market to other community members, driving business to Sara.
In addition, Buckner offered additional economic bonus grants to families participating in economic strengthening, triggering several to express gratitude through videos.
Encouragement for children
Many of the children in the Family Hope Center are involved in educational classes that help them not only in school, but with their spiritual development and family strengthening, too. To help children continue with their classwork and keep them engaged, Giuli Mendoza, Buckner Peru spiritual development coordinator, has begun holding weekly video workshops … with the help of her friend, Pipo.
Keeping families engaged through technology
Using available technology like What'sApp, Buckner staff is keeping families healthy and engaged on several fronts, including family communication, health education and marriage enrichment.
"Keep in mind that in Peru, our staff does not have the ability to do video conferencing with clients," Shores said. "So they are making these videos and sending to them on Whats App and communicating with texts and phone calls. The numbers that are participating is simply amazing!
*Name changed to protect privacy.