Peru: Red Alert scheme helps vulnerable street children

Peru: Red Alert scheme helps vulnerable street children

A new ‘early intervention’ project in the Peruvian capital Lima is aiming to help vulnerable street children before they encounter those who seek to exploit them.

UK based charity Toybox and its partner Viva Latin America have set up Red Alert to identify and get help to newly homeless children within hours or days of finding themselves alone on the streets. ‘Lookouts’ who are trained to spot these children, are recruited as volunteers from local churches, people already working on the streets with the children in existing projects, and those working in the market places.

San Juan de Lurigancho and Cercado de Lima have the largest concentration of street children in the city. In 2006, San Juan de Lurigancho had the highest number of reports of family and sexual violence in Lima, and was rated 4th in all the country. The number of working children in San Juan de Lurigancho and Cercado de Lima is close to 5,000.

Carlos, 10, who arrived from the Peruvian mountains to work on the streets of San Juan of Lurigancho during his school holidays is just one of the children who had been helped by the Red Alert team.

At first he cleaned cars. Later he sold sweets and sang songs on the buses to earn a little money. When his holiday ended and it was time to go home, he did not have enough money for his return fare. With no money for rent, he had to look for a park bench to sleep on. He was in great danger of becoming a street child permanently.

Two days passed, until he was found by one of the Red Alert team who look out for new arrivals on the street. Carlos is now part of a residential home programme and is being helped to find his family and return home.

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Vine Trust: Building a future for the forgotten

RESCUED: Willie McPherson, the executive director of Scottish charity the Vine Trust, is surrounded by children at the clinic in Puerto Belen. Picture: EMMA COWING
RESCUED: Willie McPherson, the executive director of Scottish charity the Vine Trust, is surrounded by children at the clinic in Puerto Belen. Picture: EMMA COWING

AFTER all he’s been through, the young Peruvian boy being helped by a tiny Lothian charity might have been expected to shed a tear.

Abandoned by his family and left to live with sheep, he was penned up alongside the livestock until he escaped to run wild in the city. Now when Fernando does cry – which isn’t very often – he makes the sound of a lamb bleating.

It’s heartbreaking for those who witness it, but at least those pitiful cries are increasingly giving way to a sound that is even less familiar to the tragic youngster – he is slowly learning to laugh.

On Friday, Fernando will move into his new home. Nestling in the spectacular foothills of the Andes on the outskirts of Cusco, the ancient capital of the sun-worshiping Inca empire, sits the low rise, terracotta-roofed centre that will give him shelter and food, where he will be clothed, educated and, most importantly, loved.

It’s a long way – around 6000 miles – from the small office in Port Seton which is the hub of the Vine Trust, the charity behind Fernando’s new custom-built home and a string of similar centres dotted around Peru’s harshest cities.

Yet it’s in the picturesque harbour village of Port Seton that a trio of charity workers gather daily to help transform the lives of Fernando and countless other Peruvian street children.

Only they – and a small handful of privileged others – know the true identity of the mystery benefactor whose generous donation funded the construction of the Trust’s latest centre in Cusco.

And they are sworn to secrecy, laughs expedition leader and education officer Calum Munro. "All I can say is an individual has paid for that centre, and it’s an anonymous donation," he insists. "The donor doesn’t want to be identified and we must respect that."

However it can’t stop the speculation. Maybe a lottery winner, maybe a millionaire business executive? Or could it possibly be Edinburgh-based Harry Potter author JK Rowling – she has previously donated first edition novels to help Ghanaian street children and is co-founder of a charity which works to help vulnerable children across Europe?

Whoever has felt inspired enough to dig deep has Fernando’s gratitude. For the new centre in Peru’s breathtaking Sacred Valley means a second chance at life for the youngster.

"We have fallen in love with this boy," says Paul Clark, of Union Biblica Del Peru, Vine Trust’s partner organisation in South America. "His background is different from any other we have ever encountered.

"Fernando was brought up with animals – mainly sheep, rather than with other humans. He was put out to live in the pens and sheep folds, which are common on Peru’s Andean slopes.

"Some abandoned boys never cry, which is very sad," he adds. "Others, like Fernando, can. Except that he does not cry like a little boy. Tears streaming down his cheeks, he bleats, just like a lamb."

He had become so used to living with only basics that when the charity’s workers offered him a pair of shoes, he insisted he preferred a pair of shepherd’s shoes, ojotas, made from old car tyres.

"We were told by the police in Cusco that every time he was captured and taken to some institution, he would smash windows and escape," adds Paul.

His behaviour has improved dramatically under the organisation’s care. And on Friday he will become one of the first occupants of the new home in Urubamba, close to the world famous ruins of Machu Picchu – the Lost City of the Incas.

In a few weeks, on June 30, a work party organised by the Port Seton team and made up of volunteers will arrive at the Cusco centre for the first time to see the benefits of the new centre.

Before that, STV viewers will be able to witness the next instalment of the trust’s work, when the second series of Amazon Heartbeat – a documentary-style programme charting the charity’s efforts in Peru – hits the small screen.

Unlike the first series, which focused on the charity’s efforts to bring medical aid to locals living on the banks of the Amazon through its two specially-equipped boats, Hope 1 and Hope 2, the programmes explore the charity’s work in the wake of last August’s devastating earthquake – it hurriedly set up seven feeding centres while the cameras rolled – and also its involvement running its eight centres for street boys.

It’s all vital work, says Calum, which is helping to change lives. Without the centres, hundreds of abandoned boys would be left to run wild on tough streets, scrabbling for food in rubbish dumps and stealing to survive.

"For simply cultural reasons, it tends to be boys who become street children," he says. "For them, survival is the key and one of the ways they survive is by selling themselves sexually in exchange for something as basic as soup.

"The conditions on the streets are very grim. There is a lot of brutality, neglect and poverty."

Fernando’s story – desperate as it sounds – isn’t the worst. The charity has records of children being beaten to death after being caught stealing, shot at and then turned away by hospitals reluctant to use expensive drugs on their treatment, and of becoming so withdrawn they lose the will to speak.

Some are desperately young and vulnerable, adds Calum, such as four-year-old Fernando.

"Each child has their own different, but equally difficult, story, but usually we find poverty is at the heart of it," he says. "Once they come to us they can stay until they are around 18 – they are never put back to a life on the streets.

"To be on the streets at only four or five is terrible. Children that young are lucky to survive it."

Each of the charity’s eight centres – some of them still under construction – provides accommodation for up to 40 boys with house parents who look after them.

The charity, launched in 1985 in Bo’ness by local churches concerned by the Ethiopian famine, eventually hopes to open a further seven homes for boys in Peru over the next five years.

In addition to their Amazon Hope medical ships and street boys centres, the charity also runs a clinic in Puerto Belen shanty town, which treats up to 100,000 people every year.

Being part of the organisation and helping change so many lives is, says Calum, 25, a humbling experience for all
involved – especially the 300 ordinary people, mostly Scots, who give up their time to volunteer.

"It is fantastic to see at first hand the work that has been done on constructing the centres," says Calum, who first became involved in the charity on a working holiday to one of its sites.

"You can read about it but it doesn’t compare with experiencing it," he adds.

"There is such a sense of hope which these children would never have had before."

The next series of Amazon Heartbeat starts on STV on May 6 at 11pm. The first series is currently being repeated on STV on Sunday mornings.

ROOTS GO BACK TO ETHIOPIAN FAMINE
The Vine Trust has its roots at the height of the Ethiopian famine of the Eighties, when churches in Bo’ness initially joined forces to raise funds for aid through a second hand goods shop, Branches.

It evolved into a Peruvian aid organisation after preacher Willie McPherson visited the country and was touched by the plight of its people. He raised hundreds of thousands of pounds to provide help for street children and medical facilities.

Later the former assistant minister at Barclay Church of Scotland in Tollcross and one time minister at Bo’ness Old Parish Church, embarked on an ambitious plan to buy and refurbish an old Royal Navy boat and sail it to Peru.

The initial hope was to use it to generate income for locals through a ferry service. However a donation of vital medical equipment led to it being used as a floating doctors’ surgery. In 2006 it was joined by a second vessel, Hope 2.

www.vinetrust.org

Volunteers go extra mile for Peruvian street children

By Calum Macleod
Published:  23 November, 2007

FOR many, the experience of voluntary work in one of the world’s poorer nations can be a life changing experience. For Calum Munro, originally from the Drakies area of Inverness, it also proved to be career changing.

In 2005 he joined volunteers from the city’s Hilton Church on a work party at two boys’ homes in Peru, Puerto Alegria in the Amazonian rain forest and Kusi high up in the Andes. Two years later, he now works full time for the small Scottish charity which organised that trip, The Vine Trust.

"One of my friends and I did a bit of travelling in South America and as part of that we just went along for a couple of weeks," he explained.

"I got back home and got an IT job, but didn’t especially like it, so I phoned Willy MacPherson, my current boss, and asked if there were any opportunities and here I am today."

Calum spends around two or three months of each year in Peru, but also has a lot to do back home in the trust’s Scottish headquarters — previously the director’s garage in Port Seaton near Edinburgh.

"We work very closely with an organisation in Peru, Scripture Union Peru. In this country it’s just four of us, but because of that it is quite varied," Calum said.

"I’ll go into schools and speak about the work, organise trips for people — this year we have had over 300 go over to Peru — I’ll organise training for groups going to Peru, itineraries while they are there, I do some stuff with the website and I do things with the media."

He was also in Peru recently to co-ordinate filming on the follow up to STV’s documentary series about The Vine Trust screened earlier this year. The second series will be broadcast in February.

"The other week we were going over the Andes with a little medical ship," he added, pointing out that it took five days to drive the boat on the back of a lorry to the edge of the rainforest before it began its five-day voyage to Iquitos, the capital of Peruvian Amazonia.

There it will join the two existing ships and a medical clinic funded by the charity which already treats around 52,000 patients a year.

Medical volunteers from the UK will help out with these clinics, but work teams like the Hilton group, medical teams and even school groups, which combine work with education to examine issues of poverty and globalisation, will also get involved in helping the Trust’s street children projects. By the end of next year there will be eight residential homes hosting around 40 boys, as well as a number of day centres and night centres offering refuge for Peru’s street children.

"The hope is the whole project will eventually become self-sustainable," he explained.

"We are setting up micro enterprise projects, for example a bakery, a taxi business, a rickshaw business and a car park business. They can help some of the former street boys, which is very important because there is a lot of social stigma against them which means it’s hard for them to get training or employment in the future. That also raises revenue so the project will become fully self-sustaining."

A party of 35 Highland volunteers led by members of Hilton Church and their friends recently paid a return visit to Puerto Alegria and Kusi, further strengthening the links they established in 2005. They included Raigmore eye surgeon Iain Whyte, who performed several operations, builders from city construction company Tulloch and a range of other occupations from plumbers to hoteliers.

"There are a number of groups that go out more than once," Calum added.

"There are very strong links with Inverness through Hilton Church and other groups and we’re very grateful for what they have done. They have also done a lot of fundraising as well. The team has raised £30,000 for the work. That will fund a home centre for a year."

The Inverness party included a number of family groups, such as Highland Hospice medical director Stephen Hutchison, his wife Ingrid and daughter Fiona (16).

It was actually the second time members of the Henderson family had visited Peru. Two years ago Stephen had visited with his son Iain and older daughter Karen.

Stephen, who has one other daughter Ruth who is yet to make the trip, commented: "It was certainly nice to do something as a family on each occasion and nice to have each other’s support while we were there, but it wasn’t, in a sense, as important as being part of a larger group because the group bonded together well.

"The homes are fairly remote. One of them is almost an hour’s journey in a banana boat from Iquitos, which is itself fairly remote. You can only get to it by boat or plane and Puerto Alegria is up river from there."

He continued: "There were a whole variety of jobs, from bricklaying and various electrical and plumbing things that the various workmen did, but as a far as my family were concerned, we were just being labourers, I suppose."

Stephen had another function as team doctor, though fortunately had only a few minor ailments to deal with despite the arduous conditions faced by the Highland workers.

"Puerto Alegria, is extremely hot and humid. You get really, really sweaty and dirty — it’s incredible. It’s the dirtiest I have ever been in my life," Stephen remembered.

The local children’s football team enjoy their ICT strips. Right: Calum Munro

"In Kusi, you don’t get quite so hot because you’re up in the mountains. It’s a much drier heat, so it’s not quite so unpleasant in that respect."

Fiona also had another job, along with the other youngsters of the party, in making friends with the boys at the two homes, despite the visitors’ difficulties with the language.

"It turned into a little bit of a joke with them, trying to say things and them not understanding," she said.

"The younger ones would be quite cuddly and generally wanting to come up and listen to things like iPods. The older ones would play table football and proper football. So there was plenty to do."

Friendships have been formed with the boys, but Fiona will also take some important lessons away from her Peruvian experience.

"To see how poor things can get has been quite shocking really and just to see how nice and lovely people can be.

"The culture there is to treat the street boys like dirt, but this lets you see what fantastically lovely people they are," she said. "I definitely want to go back. I’m already planning my next trip there."

Scott MacRoberts of Milton of Leys, Highlands and Islands regional worker for Scripture Union, also believes his visit will have a lasting impact.

"The boys had obviously been through hell, but in many ways they were the fortunate ones and it was a happy thing to see them having a second chance in life," he said.

"It would be fair to say we felt we gained more in many ways than we were able to contribute. Having said that, we did get a lot of physical work done. We’ve had our horizons broadened and we’ve learned a lot about what goes on in the world."

Angus MacLeod, a Gaelic development officer, said the Hilton visitors had suc
ceeded in introducing some Highland culture to Peru.

The boys were presented with some penny whistles, donated by Highland music tuition organisation Feisan nan Gaidheal, while Caley Thistle may also have picked up some new fans with the donation of a number of strips.

"Some of them were very keen on dance and choreography and we ended up doing the Gay Gordons with them," Angus said with a laugh.

As well as helping construct new buildings in Puerto Alegria and learning to make bricks the old fashioned way from bricks and straw in Kusi, Angus also had some very close encounters with Peruvian wildlife.

"I went to the bathroom in the morning and there was this big-eyed frog looking up at me," he laughed.

"Then where we were eating, some of the boys turned over one of the benches and found a tarantula having a kip!"

More seriously, he added: "Before we went over we didn’t know what difference we could make, but I think just the fact that we are willing to help and are doing something to raise the profile of issues over there is important.

"It certainly makes me appreciate what I’ve got."

Help ex street children in Lima, Peru with The Colour of Hope Charity

Help ex street children in Lima, Peru with The Colour of Hope Charity
The Colour of Hope is a British Charity aiming to reduce poverty, promote employment and advance education amongst disadvantaged people in Peru. Together with Peruvian Charity, CEAAPRIS, we are currently helping underprivileged young people leaving care homes in Lima, Peru’s capital city. The majority of these young people have previously lived on the street and suffered abuse, extreme poverty and drug addiction. Once they turn 18 they have to leave their homes, and the problems of their past, lack of support from their families and insufficient funds make finding work and supporting themselves almost impossible. Many end up exactly where they started – on the streets. Our aim is to help them become part of their community and find dignified work, thereby preventing the downward spiral into poverty, crime and drug abuse. Please get in contact if you’d like more information about The Colour of Hope or if you can give us a hand – the most effective ways to help include sponsoring a young adult, organising a fundraiser, making a donation or volunteering in Peru. Please help these young adults to become the independent and successful people they deserve to be. Please give them a chance for change. President –
a.new_ceaapris@yahoo.com
http://thecolourofhope.easysearch.org.uk/

http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docId=8503751031955080569&hl=en-CA

Retired GP leads relief trip to Peru

Retired GP leads relief trip to Peru

A RETIRED GP from Dalkeith is to lead Rotarians on a fact-finding mission to Peru next year to find out how to help street-children living in poverty.

Hilary Watkinson, Dalkeith Rotary Club’s international convener, will lead the mission to the South American country where she served as a volunteer with humanitarian aid charity The Vine Trust last year.

Dr Watkinson spent three months on mercy ship Amazon Hope after retiring from her medical practice in Bonnyrigg. During her time on the ship, she was featured on STV’s Amazon Heartbeat series about how care is provided for street children in Lima.

The Rotarian mission will find out how medical aid can be brought to poverty-stricken families in shanty towns across the Amazon basin.

Dr Watkinson said: "Much detailed planning has still to be done, but the trip will be an outstanding opportunity to see how money donated in Scotland brings relief to some of the poorest people on Earth."

The party will consist mainly of members of Dalkeith Rotary Club and their partners.

However, a limited number of places are also on offer to people keen to learn more about alleviation of suffering in developing countries.

Sailing the Amazon with cargo of hope

ADVENTURER: Christine Hodge, 53, from Trinity...

ADVENTURER: Christine Hodge, 53, from Trinity travelled to Peru, with her husband John, to see the work of The Vine Trust. Picture: GARETH EASTON

Sailing the Amazon with cargo of hope

SCORES of children trailing bin bags crawled over the mountain of rubbish, scavenging for bits of wood, plastic or other items to sell. Overhead, vultures hovered menacingly waiting for their turn to rummage amongst the food scraps and dead cats on the pile. The atmosphere was rank with the smell of rotten food but the children, many of whom were barefoot or in flipflops, carried on regardless, accustomed to the overpowering stench.

Looking on in horror was former nurse Christine Hodge, 53, from Trinity in Edinburgh who had travelled to the shantytown of Belen, near Iquitos in northern Peru, with her solicitor husband John, to see the work of The Vine Trust. John, 56, was doing some legal work for the Scottish charity and Christine had accompanied him and a group of church leaders to see first-hand the extent of the deprivation there.

She says sadly: "The poverty is quite amazing. Belen is built on the main sewer from Iquitos so you can imagine the smell."

Around 150 of those who live next to the rubbish tip are registered to scavenge six days a week, while on the seventh day, anyone is allowed in. "It’s seen as a privilege and they scavenge for anything. We went late one morning and saw children on it – happy looking children – but the smell was horrendous," says Christine. She and John wore stout shoes to visit the tip but many of the children were barefoot. "My gut reaction was shock and horror. You couldn’t go away being the same person," adds Christine.

Inspired to act by what she had witnessed, the mum of three grown-up daughters – a volunteer youth worker, who is also a trained nurse – pledged she would go back to help the charity the following year. So in August last year Christine embarked on a two-week trip down the Amazon where she worked as a dental nurse aboard Amazon Hope 1, a boat providing medical and dental treatment to villagers on the river’s banks.

The Amazon Hope Medical Project, which serves around 100,000 Peruvians, was set up by preacher Willie McPherson, of Port Seton in East Lothian, in 2001. The intrepid clergyman, who was formerly assistant minister at Barclay Church of Scotland in Tollcross, wanted to assist the work of Scripture Union Peru with street children in the Latin American country.

He raised funds to set up projects which included a carpentry workshop and a water bottling plant to employ street children. He then bought and refurbished an old Royal Navy boat, initially to use as an income-generating ferry, but which some US medical volunteers asked to use for healthcare. Amazon Hope 1 first crossed the Atlantic from Scotland in 2001 and since then has seen constantly changing UK and US medical teams treating up to 250 patients daily.

Willie says proudly: "One of the teams saw 2000 people in a ten-day period."

Now the Vine Trust – founded in Willie’s former Bo’ness parish – sends 300 volunteers to Peru annually, to work on the medical project or with street children. A second medical boat, Amazon Hope 2, was launched in 2006 and Willie says the vessels’ work is vital to keep people from migrating to the cities, where most end up in squalid shantytowns.

"The ships go out from Iquitos, deep into the jungle and serve over 120 jungle communities."

Each medical team goes to Peru for a fortnight, to work with 17 Peruvian staff, including a cook and translators.

Christine says: "Everyone worked together, it was an amazing feeling."

The boat tied-up along side a riverbank and waited for crowds to gather or, if it couldn’t get close to the bank, villagers would canoe the short distance out. There were two dentists, two nurses and two patients in the tiny surgery, but only one dentist’s chair. The villagers didn’t seem to mind the lack of privacy and would be smiling and laughing, excited at the novelty of the experience. "Some of them had some dental care before in Iquitos, but the wee tots had bad teeth because they didn’t take care of them. The teenagers were better but the old people had awful teeth," Christine adds. Her main task was to sterilise the instruments. "I just prayed the steriliser wouldn’t break down because there was nowhere to repair it."

Things don’t always go according to plan though, and while the steriliser didn’t break down, the staff discovered to their dismay that the trays for the sterilisers had been left behind when the boat set off from Iquitos. In an example of how everyone pulled together, a metal tumbler was found in the kitchen and one of the engineers halved it to fashion a new tray.

Amazon Hope 1 would stop at one village in the morning and another in the afternoon. Over eight days, the two dentists treated 800 people. "Lack of care was the most common problem with people’s teeth, sometimes abscesses and a lot of cavities," says Christine.

Most striking was the attitude of the children who came for treatment. Unlike children here who often clamp their mouths firmly shut at mere mention of a dentist, on Christine’s boat only one little girl couldn’t be treated because she wouldn’t open her mouth. Another who was very frightened was persuaded when they offered her bouncy balls and hair clasps. "The children were amazing. They sat there and took their injections. They were used to a rougher standard of life – you’d never see it here."

Once a light fused while a patient was having a filling. But such was the villagers’ grateful attitude that he did not complain. "Luckily we found an extra bulb. People were very trusting and just so pleased to be treated. Some were in awe of you, though in bigger villages people were more confident and came up and shook your hand."

Without the visits from the medical boat, which passes through each route quarterly, many villagers on the banks of the River Tigre, a tributary of the Amazon, would have great difficulty in accessing health care. Just one doctor is responsible for the whole river – around 6000 people spread over 42 communities. He has a medical centre in one of the villages but it is often a long trek by river to reach him.

Since she got back to the family home in Trinity, Christine has given talks about her experience in churches and to Telford College’s dental nurses, whose skills would be so useful there. But you can sense she is itching to return.

FLOATING HEALTH SERVICE

WILLIE McPHERSON and Christine Hodge from the Lothians feature in a new eight-part television series.

Amazon Heartbeat follows medical ships Amazon Hope 1 and 2 as they provide health care in some of the most remote and inaccessible locations on the planet.

Led by charismatic preacher Willie McPherson, the group sets out to create a floating health service for more than 100,000 people in Peru.

Their work is part of charity, The Vine Trust’s, Amazon Hope Medical Project.

The first episode of Amazon Heartbeat goes out tonight at 8pm on STV.

For more information on the charity, or to donate or volunteer on a trip, see the web site on: www.vinetrust.org.

Casa De Milagros

Casa De Milagros
Over 3,500 children live on the streets of Cusco many abandoned by families that could not feed them. Malnutrition, infrequent bathing, and … all » inadequate care cause widespread health problems including skin infections, bronchitis, tuberculosis, rickets, and chronic intestinal infections. But the loneliness and fear experienced by these children forced to live on the street alone are the most painful afflictions of all.

An eight year-old Peruvian boy spends afternoons in the parks of Cusco with other children playing soccer and shining the shoes of tourists. Laughing and running, he appears happy just like any other boy. But at night the boy is often found in the street gutter. With blue lips, body shivering and eyes blank, he does not respond to his name. Thousands of children just like Sergio exist in a world of poverty and misery foreign to many of us. But fortunately there is a way we can help.

Description of the project / solution:

Casa de Milagros provides shelter, food, clothing, basic medical care, and education and arts programs that promote self-confidence and self-worth for children in need. This is done in a truly unique environment in which progressive programs are used to foster a healthy and positive consciousness. Based on the philosophy that we must start at the root of the problem, healing and educating children so that they can give back to their community, The Chandler Sky Foundation aims to provide positive long-term benefits to the region’s social and environmental problems.

Casa de Milagros will act as a model for children’s shelters in the future to be established in all parts of the world, providing a special environment in which children will prosper through education, cultural and performing arts, permaculture, spiritual development, and social and vocational programs, and most importantly, love. With its progressive methods of healing and teaching, the shelter is a model for self-sufficient children’s shelters around the world.

The Chandler Sky Foundation aims not only to heal the street children, but to educate them so that they may be able to return to their communities equipped with the skills and the spirit to heal the area’s economy. In addition to saving the lives of many needy children, the Chandler Sky Foundation helps to conserve one of the world’s most biodiverse rainforests. Through teaching children methods of farming that allow the land to be used over and over again, there will be a decreased need for migration into the precious rainforest reserves that we, as a planet, need for survival. These programs, developed from a progressive global consciousness, place the Casa de Milagros in a category of its own.

http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docId=-729053695728454176&hl=en-CA

Bruce Peru 2006

Bruce Peru 2006
Here in Peru, 26% of school age children are not in school. We and our volunteers have found a way to recruit these children, educate them to make up for all the years they have missed. Prepare them to pass the entrance examinations for the grades they belong in. We help pay their registration fees, uniforms, class materials. Then we support them in school for two years: until they are well launched as young people becoming educated. It works. Visit the BrucePeru website to find out more about how you can participate: http://www.bruceperu.org/

Peruvian street boys work through micro-enterprise programs

Lima’s street boys learn to work:

Pablo Lavado is director of Centro Girasoles (Sunflower Center) for street boys in Lima, Peru. He shares that since the 1950s whenever Scripture Union Peru initiates a new program their policy is to make it self-sustainable through some form of income-generation project. A variety of such micro-enterprises has been used; sometimes totally unrelated to the ministry activity.

For example they have a car park on the first floor of their center for street children in Lima, a bakery and a building with offices and storefronts that are rented out. There is also a campsite whose facilities are rented to outside groups. A taxi company is now planned. The income from this would sustain a house for the younger children in their program. An added benefit of these programs is that they actively involve the street kids. For example, the boys of Girasoles wash the vehicles parked in the car park, thereby earning a small extra income.

Scripture Union’s policy has proven successful. Today the majority of the income for their programs comes from these micro-enterprises and only a minimum percentage is made up by donations. The most lucrative programs are the car park, the campsite and the office/storefront rental. The viability of these plans means each ministry program can be planned into the future without fear of unexpected closure. The security this gives the program is important because consistency is crucial for the full rehabilitation of street boys. It is disastrous when they are left mid-way through the process."