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Peru – Paths of Hope

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A Comboni Missionary community lives and works on the outskirts of the Peruvian capital, Lima, among the poorest and most needy. They share their experience.

Pamplona Alta, on the outskirts of Lima, is home to 30 thousand people. This shantytown  finds its origins in the night of December 31,1999, when thousands of people invaded the dusty hills of this region. They set up tents and small houses built out of wood, plastic and sheets. This place lacks basic services like clean water, electricity and drainage. Here, a small Comboni Missionary community has decided to settle down. It’s a four-sister community. The four missionaries, who are from different countries, go up and come down the hills of this area everyday to provide support to the inhabitants.
They are also involved in training people supposed to lead these communities and enable them to change these areas into better realities, in two ways: socially and spiritually.  Furthermore, the four sisters also try to create small ecclesial communities there.  Sister Amine Abrahão, is from Peru1Brazil and she has spent more than 20 years in Perù. She told us that she and the other sisters arrived in Pamplona Alta on February 23, 2002, with the purpose of sharing life and struggles with the poorest. In this area, each community‘s name is inspired by hope. For example: Vista Alegre , Alborada, Paradise. All names that evoke a beautiful land, and just like the people of Israel, these people are looking for “a new land flowing with milk and honey”. No doubt, it has been a tough task to carry out, nevertheless the missionaries have achieved several goals.
Four basic health clinics have been built as well as some schools, among them the Faith and Joy College, the best in the area. 1.800 children attend this school which is managed by Jesuits. Sister Amine says: “Everything is fruit of the Holy Spirit and the result of the collaboration and organization of the community. We train the community leaders of each area, so that they be the subjects of their own history”.
Peru4Each area is like a small community, with a public dining hall providing  children with nutritionally balanced meals, and a public pharmacy. In some of these areas educational programs are organized in order to  promote school normalization and literacy for women.  In all communities people can attend catechetical courses, and the celebration of God’s Word and the Eucharist takes place once a month. This way “faith and life go together”. Sister Jheni Buele Martha Duma, from Ecuador says: “In my community, I organize Baptism   and First Communion catechism for adults also. I visit families, and make sure that people with particular diseases can be hospitalized. We, in our community, also offer extra educational support to those people with difficulty in learning”.

Women entrepreneurs

The four Comboni sisters also carry out the project “Women entrepreneurs”. This project includes training courses for women in home economics, knitting, neighbourhood pharmacy  and natural medicine. “We want women to be protagonists, and not victims anymore of domestic violence, since they do not contribute to the family’s economy”, Sister Amine says . “Women are the heart of the world. That’s why I encourage them not to have fear in facing problems. I also encourage them not to feel sad, or overwhelmed. They can overcome any difficulty. They must trust God and they will be able to face any problem”. Sister Asmeret Aregay from Ethiopia, who has spent eight years in this mission, adds, “What is these nuns’ reason for staying in this place?”. “The suffering contemplation of these people give us elements to meditate and enrich our spirituality. This place is theological. Here we can hear God’s word, He makes our pastoral work identify with the suffering of these people. We live with them, we share their experiences. Here, we have a great chance to create around us a theological place, to listen to God’s word and behave like real Christians”, Sister Amine answers.

Claudia Villalobos

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