Agua Pura traveled to Peru in October visiting several different parts of the country over a three week period, giving our workshops to families and health workers in the communities we visited. The programs were well received and had a positive impact on the people there.
Lima, like most cities around the world attracts many poor rural families who come looking for a better life. They often end up in slums illegally built in areas without basic services like water or sanitation. When we first arrived in Lima we visited some of these newest “invasion communities” with our hosts, Portland based Health Bridges International. They have several programs in Peru working with other groups and churches to bring basic health care to these people, and they asked us to give a workshop to their health workers on basic water and sanitation.
The health workers brought us water samples from their communities to test for bacterial contamination, then at the workshop we went over the results of the testing and suggested ways that they could make their water safe to drink, and distributed Water Pasteurization Indicators (WAPI’s) to them. We encouraged the participants to use the WAPI’s and to show them to their neighbors as well. We will follow the progress of these health workers and support them as they share their knowledge with their communities.
After three days in Lima we rode a bus up the arid coast of Peru and over the mountains to a beautiful valley high in the Andes. The town of Yungay is nearly 9000 feet in elevation and surrounded by peaks up to 22,000 feet. It was the site of a terrible earthquake and avalanche in 1970 that wiped out the original town and killed over 30,000 people.
We stayed with our hosts Health Bridges at an orphanage located above the relocated town of Yungay. Our project was to work with families in surrounding communities to again check their water supplies and help them with methods to make the water safe. We also trained some of the older students from the orphanage to test water accurately so that they now can become a health resource for their neighbors. The program was very well received and we were asked to return and present similar programs in other local communities. Next time we will have our newly trained health resource students help us.
Our final stop was the “white city” of Arequipa – built with a white volcanic stone which gives it a shimmering quality in the bright sunlight of the the altiplano. It’s very dry there and has the same problem of spreading “invasion communities” as Lima. Again we stayed with our hosts and presented our program to a group of well organized health representatives from these communities. These groups were impressively knowledgeable and motivated to help their neighbors.
Overall our trip was very satisfying and well received, and I think we will be returning to Peru in the future to continue our work.