Social Programs & Family Development
Our mission’s social programs provide the basic needs most of us take for granted. Far too many children and adults living within the barrios we serve experience the raw ache of hunger day after day, the fear that comes during the darkness of night due to no electricity, and illness related to inadequate shelter from the elements. The focus of our social programs is to help the poor of Chimbote get access to the most basic needs of human life ….food, water, shelter, clothing and a safe place to sleep. Only when these needs are met is the next step out of poverty possible.
Family Development & Advocacy
Poverty frequently results in psychological problems, parenting challenges, legal concerns and abusive behaviors. Often it is the children and women who suffer the most. The mission’s social workers spend hours walking the dirt roads of Chimbote knocking on doors and performing in-home assessments to determine the needs of individual families. They are then directed to the appropriate resource or program that we offer. This may include counseling from a mission psychologist, referral to a soup kitchen, assistance with housing, educational support for the children, encouragement to apply for a micro-loan or an invitation to attend a variety of seminars offered by mission staff promoting healthy families and homes.
Injustice is also a frequent partner of poverty – it’s more difficult for the poor to fight for their rights when they can’t pay for legal services. We partner with the municipality of Chimbote to provide legal advocacy services, making it possible for victims of domestic abuse, housing discrimination, lack of parental support, wrongful arrest and other issues to get legal advice and representation.
When was the last time you were hungry … really hungry? Fortunately, for those of us living in the land of plenty, most have never experienced the feelings that come with chronic malnutrition, the kind that leaves one lethargic, unable to concentrate, study, work or even sleep.
More than 1700 times per week, a man, woman or child in Chimbote reaches the front of the line in a soup kitchen and receives a bowl of soup, a plate of rice and a glass of juice. The cost—about 44 cents per meal—is primarily covered by Friends of Chimbote funds with some assistance from the Peruvian government. Women living in the barrios proudly work as cooks and servers and in return they receive food for their families, instruction on nutritious meal preparation and recognition for their community service.
Imagine living on land you do not own in a cramped space with dirt floors and walls made of woven reed (called estera) so thin that you can hear and see all that is going on at your neighbors. And at night lying in the dark – often in one bed shared by the whole family – hearing insects and rats running across your cardboard roof. This is all too common for thousands of people living in the barrios that we serve. Many families migrated to Chimbote seeking jobs and a better future for their families only to be faced with the reality of high unemployment and inadequate housing.
Thanks to the support provided by Friends of Chimbote, people’s lives are being changed through the mission’s housing support program. Cardboard, plastic and estera roofs are being replaced with durable material called eternit that provides years of protection from the elements, as well as from rodents and insects. We’re working hard to replace dirt floors with concrete and estera walls with sturdy wood structures. Additional housing support comes from mission volunteers who work side-by-side with local residents to remodel homes and provide needed furnishings and household goods. The mission’s legal department helps people secure title to their property. Learn more about volunteering in Chimbote.
Each and every day, unexpected needs arise among the poor of Chimbote: transportation to get a sick family member to the hospital or purchase medication, an unexpected school expense, paying a utility bill so power will not be shut off, or replenishing daily potable water supplies. Most families do not have a safety net for such expenses. Thankfully, we maintain an emergency fund to assist those who have urgent needs to survive. Mission social workers assess and screen families in these situations and provide necessary assistance.
For the past several years, dedicated supporters from St. Michael’s sister parish in Prior Lake, MN have collected and shipped hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of medical, educational, personal, and various other goods to the mission. Over the years, the goods have been shared with thousands of the mission’s poor, as well as the medical and dental post, hospice, educational programs, and other mission programs. These shipments have provided items that funds would never have been available to purchase in Chimbote. Learn more about our container shipments.