Visiting the Latin America Mission Area
In October, Abigail headed off to Latin America to visit the Fe y Alegría and Reaching New Horizons projects in Peru, the Centro Hermano Manolo project in Bolivia, and the Latin America Mission Office. Both the Peruvian projects work with their respective school communities to provide academic reinforcement and psycho-social support to the pupils and the wider school community.
The impact of the pandemic in Peru has been devastating. Despite a very strict and long lockdown, Peru had one of the highest COVID death rates in the world. In-person schools were closed for two years and education was delivered remotely. The projects operated throughout the pandemic delivering their crucial services and providing additional support, including the provision of food baskets and second-hand mobile phones and computers so pupils could access virtual learning.
In March 2022, in-person classes resumed, and since then the projects have been able to deliver their services again faceto- face. After two years of lockdown, the projects are now playing an even more critical role. The psychologists have reported their students are facing more emotional problems, including bullying, aggressive behaviour, stress and nutrition problems. Since many families didn’t always have access to technology or the resources to pay for mobile data for virtual class, the students this year are in the process of improving academically to regain the knowledge lost. It was wonderful meeting the staff of both projects and going on home visits to see the reality that the beneficiaries are facing.
Abigail was also able to travel to Bolivia to visit the Centro Hermano Manolo project. The project attends to 76 children and young adults who all work in La Cancha, a market in the city of Cochabamba. They accompany working children and adolescents and focus on four areas: personal development, educational strengthening, family accompaniment and promotion in technical training. Abigail was able to visit the centre, meet with families of the beneficiaries, and spend time with project manager Sandra Caiguara, as well as the Christian Brothers community there. It was an eye-opening experience to see the reality of life in Bolivia.
While Abigail had met various stakeholders in the area via Zoom over the last several years, it was great to finally meet governors Br. Ricardo Glatz and Br. Ever Cieza and project manager Paola Miranda, in-person, and connect on a personal level.
The success of the projects are due to the dedicated staff in each project, and the invaluable support of the Mission Office personnel, led by the Latin America Mission Coordinator Elmer Hurtado. Thanks to the Edmund Rice mission team in Latin America and the Christian Brothers communities for welcoming ERD back to the area.