(MissionNewswire) Peruvian authorities announced a state of emergency in Chosica, Peru, a small town northeast of the capital city of Lima, which was hit by an avalanche of mud and rocks. Two hours of intense rain loosened car-sized boulders that came crashing through the town along with mud and water, sweeping away homes, vehicles, furniture and animals. The BBC reports that at least seven were killed and 65 homes destroyed. The state of emergency is expected to last for at least 60 days to give powers to the local authorities to re-establish electric and water supplies and initiate a clean-up operation.
Salesian missionaries living and working in the region are leading a relief campaign through the Don Bosco Foundation in Peru. Volunteers at the campaign are collecting food, clothing, mattresses and other items and then delivering them directly to families in need. “While Don Bosco Church in Chosica was heavily damaged, we are much more concerned about our parishioners there—all of whom have literally lost everything,” says Father Alejandro Arango Ramos, Rector Major of the Salesian presence in Peru.
To help support the Don Bosco Church in Chosica and provide aid to its parishioners, Salesian Youth Movement groups in Rimac and Brena, both districts within Lima providence, have organized a fundraising campaign and plan to donate the money raised directly to the church. “Because Salesian missionaries live within the communities they serve, they are perfectly positioned to respond in times of crisis,” says Father Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions. “Our missionaries know the local landscape and are providing direct relief to those who need it most and they will remain throughout the long recovery process that accompanies disasters like this.” Salesian missionaries working in Peru have provided life-saving support and education to poor youth and their families through the years as well as helped with rebuilding efforts after the August 2007 earthquake. Salesian programs in the country focus on education and workforce development, helping to ensure that young Peruvians have access to the education and technical skills training that will enable them to find and retain long-term stable employment.
Peru has high levels of income inequality and more than a quarter of its population living in poverty, according to the World Bank. Poverty levels are significantly higher in rural areas but urban areas struggle most with inequality, most notably metropolitan Lima. Poverty in the country is made worse by a shortage of productive farmland and a lack of employable skills, specifically among young people and women entering the workforce. In addition, Peruvians lack access to adequate housing, nutrition and education.
Peru has also been plagued by hunger and disaster. According to the World Bank, close to 25 percent of children in the country are chronically malnourished. Communities continue to rebuild after the 8.0 earthquake in August 2007 which killed more than 500 people and injured hundreds more in the central coastal cities of Chincha, Pisco and Ica. The quake destroyed close to 60,000 residential and commercial buildings, leveled hundreds of acres of farmland and left countless Peruvians without means of livelihood.