Father Ed O’Connell is one of our Connect2: Peru narrators. He is a Columban missionary priest who has been working in Peru since the 1970s. He is one of the founders of our Connect2: Peru partner Warmi Huasi. From June until September 2016 he was in the UK on a home visit, and took the opportunity to go to some CAFOD supporter meetings in Bristol and Birmingham.
I have been in Bristol and Birmingham with CAFOD and representatives of Connect2 parishes. It was an opportunity for me to meet people from the parishes and to hear their desire to get closer to the work of CAFOD through the work in Peru. People asked lots of questions about CAFOD in general and the children Warmi Huasi works with. I enjoy visiting as a way to offer thanks for people in the Church here sending me to Peru, and also as a way of staying in touch with the local Church in England and Wales. I think it is important to make links between the local church in England and Wales and the local Church in Peru and the projects they run.
When I left Peru in June, Keiko Fujimori’s party had won total control of congress in the first round of the presidential elections. In the second round, Pedro Pablo Kuczyinski beat Keiko Fujimori only by 0.43% to become the president.
People are mixed in their responses. At the moment, people are unsure how the presidential elections will affect their daily lives at a local level. But people are frustrated. Young people are in jobs that require long hours – working like new slaves. More and more people are studying at university without job prospects once they graduate.
What Warmi Huasi has been doing so far in 2016
On 6 August, in front of 800 people, the first children’s organisation in Lomas de Carabayllo, possibly in Lima, was sworn in. Children aged 6-13 years old have elected their leadership to represent and present their needs to the municipality, particularly in the area of personal security and safe places to play and study. Being now a legally registered organisation allows them to present a project and a budget to the District Council for the 2018 budget year.
Meanwhile, this year the children have worked with adults to set up groups to clean up areas that are dangerous and dirty and which have been designated as play areas.
A new homework club was opened in the neighbourhood, opening on Saturdays. It is called Cruz de Mayo.
We are building a library space in the school so approximately 1,000 children will have it as a space to read, hopefully from December this year. My parish in Lima is supporting the library space by sourcing second-hand reading and homework books for the children.
In the next few months…
Looking ahead over the next few months, in October people in Lima celebrate Our Lord of the Miracles. His image is paraded through the streets in Lima in front of 1 million people.
On 1 November, All Saints Day, everyone goes to the cemetery to the graves of their relatives. They take some food and share it there.
On 8 December in my parish in Lima we have 240 children from 9 to 12 years old making their First Holy Communion. This takes us into Christmas. In the parish we have carol singing in the streets and adults and children visit homes to talk and sing about the birth of Jesus. Warmi Huasi in Lomas de Carabayllo holds a scripture reflection with the children to reflect on the meaning of Christmas, being together and appreciating what we have rather than wanting more.