NUEVA CAYMA – AREQUIPA - PERU
“Nueva Cayma” is what was known until last year as “Alto Cayma”. Nueva Cayma, meaning New Cayma, came about because Alto Cayma has grown so much that it is difficult to know where one is referring to unless the area is given another name. Nueva Cayma is the continuation of Alto Cayma towards the “Chachani” volcano desert mountain. Nueva Cayma starts at an elevation of 8,000 feet and the present last settlement is over 10,000 feet. It is presently made of 29 settlements and has an approximate population of 20,000 people.
The vast majority of the people are migrants coming from all over Peru, and predominantly from the villages on the Andes mountains. As with all migrants they come to improve on their living conditions, basically to have access for work, health care, education, etc. In most cases when they come to the area, they are not prepared to have proper jobs because of lack of education or skill training back in their village of origin. This means that they are daily workers ready to do whatever odd job is available, for very little pay, as long as they can earn the daily bread. Getting a day’s work is not always guaranteed.
Nueva Cayma still lacks basic needs like the access to water, sewer, electricity, proper transportation, paved roads, schools, medical stations, etc. Access to water is very limited as the people in the different settlements build provisional reservoirs, dig trenches, put pipes, faucets, and buy water that is brought in with water cisterns. Usually a family is permitted to collect 4 to 5 buckets of water per day for all the needs (personal hygiene, laundry, cleaning, cooking…). Toilets are just a hole covered by whatever material for privacy, in the little land the people own, rent or look after. The houses themselves are not exactly houses. They are usually a small room, exceptionally two, made of “sillar,” (local volcanic ash stone), covered by a corrugated steel sheets for a roof. Electricity reaches a number of settlements but not all. In most cases it is a provisional connection and one is only permitted to use a bulb or two and some appliance that does not consume too much energy. If all were to plug whatever, it would burn out the whole system. Transportation also reaches some but not all settlements. Small vans transport people and at certain hours they are not easily available. It gets very busy in the mornings and at the end of the day transporting many people to get to work or to school. Access to medical care is very critical. There are no medical posts in the area and as mentioned above transportation is difficult.
The Missionary Society of St. Paul is now 50 years in Peru. It is a very small congregation of missionaries numbering 100 missionaries the world over. It is present in Australia, Canada, Peru, Pakistan, the Philippines, Cuba, soon in Vietnam, and has its base in Malta where it originated. The charism of the missionary society is that of being always at the service of the poor. This means that we do not operate in the same way in all the places we are. We get organized according to the needs of the people of the area in order to be of more service to the needy around. In all of the Cayma district, which includes Alto Cayma and Nueva Cayma, we are 7 missionaries serving around 150,000 people.
In the Nueva Cayma area, besides the mission of evangelization, we run a small health clinic, support 4 pre-schools, have a 180 student high school, a children’s home for neglected boys (presently 29 boys), a kitchen that prepares 250 meals a day Monday through Friday all year round, another food program through which we help with the distribution of raw foodstuffs, a program for the elderly, two skill training workshops (knitting products and card making). We also run a “Family to Family support program”. Through this program we find families from outside Peru that are willing to support a needy family in Nueva Cayma. The supporting family helps the Peruvian family with a US$ 50.00 contribution per month. The two families usually write letters, exchange photos and even visit the benefitting family in Peru. People can support a family through our web-page www.vidaycompasion.orgor get in contact with us at email@example.com guidance. Another important project that we run is called the “Compassion Fund”. This is a very effective and important fund to help people in the most basic of needs that do not fit in any of our formal organized services. This fund is of utmost importance as it literally frees, gives and saves lives. At times poor people need operations that they cannot afford, and though at times they may not be life thretening, at times they are. This means that the life of the person in front of us literally depends on our yes or no to help. The fund is also very helpful protecting single mothers and their children when their husbands abandon them. In many cases the husbands try to take away the little house away from their wife and children. The fund helps the women and children get their rights and protection. Through the fund we also helped poor people who for different reasons got into debts with banks and cannot pay the loans. This means that if we do not somehow help, people may end up being thrown on the road losing all their belongings including land and house. The fund also helps poor people especially the elderly to access the daily bread, medicine, pay bills, etc. There is no such thing as social security or pensions for people who never contributed through formal jobs. This fund was started three years ago and is now in need of re-filling. We really encourage generous people to contribute with a one-time generous contribution towards this fund as it is of great benefit to the poorest of the poor and it can only last until funds are available. Again, one can contribute through the web-page or get in touch through the e-mail address mentioned above.
A very urgent need is now the building of a new health center. As mentioned above health services are very critical for the Alto Cayma and Nueva Cayma population. Population numbers keep on growing by the day and health services are always more difficult to get. We have been talking to the Health Ministry and other health authorities in Peru and were told that there is no way a health center can be built by the Health Ministry in the next 15 to 20 years. This is because there are many such realities like that of Nueva Cayma all around Arequipa and all over Peru, and the Health Ministry in Peru is in no position to build, equip and provide the medical staff to start new clinics. This is what made us decide to build a new bigger clinic ourselves as Missionary Society of St. Paul. In our existing clinic we are giving care to an average of 30,000 patients per year and that is already too much for the space in the existing clinic. At the same time as mentioned above the population of the area is ever growing. We have the land for the construction of the clinic, he plans and the cost of the new clinic. We are presently looking for generous people to help us build the clinic and provide the very needed care. The cost of building the clinic is 1.8 million US dollars. One should mention here that the high cost of the building is that there are special building requirements for public buildings, health centers which require different types of building materials and Peru being a very earthquake prone country requiring different planning and a stronger structure.
All donations towards our projects can be done through the information given above. They are processed through “Health Bridges International” which is a 501C3 non-profit U.S. based organization.
Fr. Alex Busuttil mssp
Missionary Society of St. Paul charity programs director