“Help us to help others”: Anglican Church in Peru calls for aid

4 April 2017

Temporary homes following the floods. Up to 8 people are currently living in each tent. Most have no mattresses. They are currently dependent on others for food and water.

Hundreds of thousands of people have been hit by ongoing floods and mudslides across Peru. During the first months of 2017 the “Niño” phenomenon has brought heavy rains to the Andean regions of Peru. This has resulted in a huge impact across the country.

More than 100 people have been killed and an estimated 118,000 have been seriously affected. Over 28,000 homes are either severely affected or uninhabitable and much of the country’s infrastructure is damaged.

The Anglican Church in Peru has established the ‘Help us to help others’ commission, led by the diocesan bishop, the Rt Revd Jorge Aguilar. The commission is calling for prayers and financial support as they seek to support the most vulnerable and neglected communities. Last week the Presiding Bishop of the Anglican Church of South America & Bishop of Argentina, the Most Revd Gregory James Venables, visited Peru and added his support to this initiative.

The Church is uniquely positioned to help hard-to-reach communities, particularly as fast-flowing rivers and mudslides continue to hamper relief efforts. Initial relief efforts by individuals and non-governmental organisations have provided some food, clothing, temporary accommodation, and initial water supplies. But this short term help has reduced with time and communities are still waiting for long term solutions from the local and national government. Basic needs still need to be met. As Paul Tester, from the Church in Lima, Peru, said, “We believe that we are able to help in a way that the state and local government is not.”

The church has established a ‘Plan of Action’ to support small communities that have been impacted particularly badly by the floods and are no longer receiving aid from other sources. The plan states, “The Anglican Church has visited the affected areas close to Lima, the capital of Peru, and has found that there are small communities of around 75 people that have received initial help but are now left on their own. Their homes and small businesses have been either destroyed or severely damaged, many losing most of their belongings. Some have received some help with temporary accommodation but some still don’t have this basic need met. There are no toilet facilities provided, increasing health risks. Most have no means of cooking and water supplies are limited. We expect that, as access to other parts of Peru improves, other communities will be found with similar needs.”

The cost of providing this type of help to each community of around 75 people for 1-2 months is around US$10,000 (£8,000). The plan of action states that this includes “providing tents, mattresses, cookers and pans, food and water plus basic toilet to enable the community to recover from the worst effects of the flooding and landslides and to begin to stand on their own two feet. We also aim to help children get back to school at what is the beginning of the school year here in Peru by providing help with school stationery.”

It is hoped that as the worldwide Anglican Communion shows their support, these needs can be met.

Paulo Ueti, Anglican Alliance Facilitator for Latin America and the Caribbean said, “We are following the situation and offering our support, prayers and connections to bring relief to those who are affected. We are sure the Church as a family is doing everything in its capacity to accompany and be the angel of good news amidst suffering and desperation. Together we are stronger and as community we certainly can do more, so count on us”.

Meanwhile, Anglican agencies and churches in partnership with the Diocese of Peru are coming forward to offer support.

The Anglican Alliance trustees visited Peru in 2016 for their annual board meeting. Meeting with the church leadership and visiting local community initiatives, it was clear that this is a vibrant and growing church, deeply committed to the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable. The Anglican churches are spread across the country, ministering in places of great poverty even before the current crisis.

Revd Rachel Carnegie, Anglican Alliance Co-Executive Director said: “We experienced first hand last year the profound commitment of the Church in Peru to serve the poorest communities and promote social justice. At this time of great trial for the country, we stand alongside the Church in Peru and pray that the Communion will help them to help those in need through prayer and practical support.”

If you would like to support this cause and help the Church in Peru to help the most vulnerable, please contact the Anglican Alliance Relief Manager, Dr Janice Proud on Janice.Proud@aco.org