Newsletter June 2022
The past two months have been marked by various activities and a family change. Our eldest, Nancy, went to the US for an au pair year. Her dream came true after various tests by the au pair organization and hurdles by the US embassy. There are hardly any young people in the slums who can take advantage of such an opportunity. We are happy for her. For sure this will broaden your horizons a lot.
Victim work is the best protection against offenders
As mentioned in the last newsletter, Daniela Hirt (a specialist in domestic violence and work with offenders in Germany) visited us for a few weeks. The training courses, specialist conferences and various discussions with politicians and government agencies left their mark. We are allowed to hold further talks with the responsible authorities in the districts of Ventanilla and Mi Peru. The situation in the slums is worrying. The traditional role model is firmly anchored in the lower social classes in particular. Men feel superior to women. Violence is forbidden by law, but the reality is different. There is a lot of violence against women and it is accepted or not actively addressed. Women say they prefer not to report their husbands to the police.
She reacts something like this: “What did you do that made your husband beat you like that?” According to first-hand accounts, women who are not bleeding to death are advised by the police not to report it. Despite anti-violence laws, criminal prosecution is inadequate and perpetrators can buy their way out of penalties. In view of this reality, Estación Esperanza would like to do more work for victims and offer low-threshold work with offenders. Work with perpetrators is the best protection for victims. We are glad that Daniela and a specialist consultant from Mannebüro Züri will come to us again for further training in mid-2023. The women who visit Estación Esperanza are motivated to no longer remain silent: «No más silencio!» Women are encouraged to support each other. If you hear from a neighboring hut that there is a threatening conflict there, you shouldn’t want to drown it out with your own television set. An alternative is to knock at the appropriate hut and ask if you can borrow some sugar or oil. Getting more aggressively involved in a conflict could be dangerous. In many situations, even the victims turn themselves in on the side of their men. Because they fear more violence. If you know victims, you should encourage them to talk about the problems.
The children’s afternoons, with which we started in mid-April on the property or on the construction site in Mi Peru, are well attended. The reading promotion program is met with great interest. Something that is special and very pleasing about this new or third Estación Esperanza location: the voluntary support from neighbors. They invite children of their own accord, distribute our flyers and actively help with the program every Saturday. Thanks to these human resources, we can now also run a small program with family-specific topics for the mothers on Saturday afternoons. The Estación Esperanza team (10 people) would otherwise be overwhelmed. It runs programs at all three locations simultaneously on Saturdays.
A nearby parish asked us if they could use our building site for a family event. There are simply no safe places or premises for such occasions in the area. It’s nice that this place can serve the neighborhood long before completion.
“Never be broke again”
Last year we conducted the basic course “Never be broke again” on the topic of handling money. Now we have started the sequel. The offer applies to everyone who has completed the first course. Participation is obligatory for parents whose children receive scholarships from us or are otherwise supported in school. We meet once a month for six months. The long time frame allows participants to achieve personal financial goals: save money for a specific purchase, pay off debts, etc. Those who reach their goal receive a medal.
Even more valuable, however, is the experience that with a financial plan and a defined monthly budget, you no longer have to be constantly broke. Purchases can be made without always having to take out loans. The associated interest (often up to 50% in Peru) is money that can be invested in other ways. According to estimates, up to 80% of the people in Lima (approx. 11 million) are in debt. When preparing the monthly budget, the Rodriguez couple were at a loss. They came up with a negative result or came up with more monthly expenses than income. How they organized themselves in the past, they could not explain themselves. With new ideas, such as minimizing expenses (e.g. taking lunch from home and not buying food every day at work) and increasing income (e.g. selling cakes in the neighbourhood), they are now motivated to start the new month.
The Flores family passed particularly difficult months. The man was unemployed and they often didn’t know how to make ends meet financially. It got to the point that they could no longer pay for the electricity and it was shut off for the time being. Now, two weeks ago, the man found a job on a construction site for four months. We asked the couple how they plan to prepare for the future. Construction workers are often unemployed for a while before they find a new job. The answer was: «Now we would have to save, because we have an income at the moment. But whenever we put money aside in an envelope, we spend it. We don’t know what we can do.” The course will show you alternatives. If they implement the new money management ideas, they will no longer be at the mercy of emergencies.
In addition to working with children and young people, working with parents is a major concern for Estación Esperanza. Children learn to learn… and so do their parents. If the family environment at home improves, this means a better quality of life for the minors.
Me, Miriam, and Mael look forward to seeing you again on September 18th. Carlos will stay in Peru this time. The project as well as Angie and Flor need his support.
We wish you all the best and God’s blessings.
Best regards from Lima, Miriam and Carlos Bernales-Kühni
prayer requests (German)
This page is also available in: German