Protecting dignity and promoting justice in Peru


Project Compassion 2012
With the support of Caritas Australia and the Mercy Family Health Services, Cerro Candela is now a far healthier community. Over 40,000 gynaecology, paediatrics, dermatology and tuberculosis screening consultations have been provided at little or no cost – services the community could not otherwise access or afford – and infant malnutrition is on the decline.
Photo: Caritas Australia

Judy, 39, lives in Cerro Candela with her husband and eight children. Although her community may lie within Lima’s city limits, life in this small shanty village is a world away from Peru’s lively tourist haunts. There is no running water, no sewage, no paved roads, and little employment – for Judy and her family, it bears little resemblance to God’s vision of a just world.

Judy’s village is home to one of the world’s highest rates of tuberculosis and more than one in three young children are malnourished, yet access to health care and social services goes wanting.

“It’s a very polluted environment…we get frequent sicknesses, infections and skin complaints,” Judy said.

“Lack of money causes a lot of stress. It’s a very ‘macho’ society with high levels of domestic violence. Some kids end up in gangs.”

Since 2004, Caritas Australia has supported Mercy Family Health Service’s (MFHS) Maternal and Infant Health Program in Cerro Candela.

The program, focused on at-risk mothers and children under five, is guided by the philosophy that health is a right, not a privilege. In protecting the dignity of women and children through healthcare, MFHS is working to promote justice and a spirit of peace in Judy’s community.

“I was attending health talks and the health promoter suggested we take our children for a check-up at MFHS,” Judy said.

They then referred my daughter Vania, 3, who was anaemic and with parasites, to the childcare centre.”

“Many people have hope now that change is possible”

Project Compassion 2012 News Story
Judy believes there is now hope for a brighter future for both her family and community. Photo: Caritas Australia
MFHS’ childcare centre engages children in stimulating activities, and provides meals and healthcare.

Parents are linked with local services, encouraged to attend preventative health talks and to visit MFHS’ health professionals.

“Vania has become more alert and stimulated. Her behaviour has improved a lot,” Judy said.

MFHS has trained 25 community health promoters to identify children at risk, conduct home visits, and run health talks.

Last year, more than 2,500 people attended these talks.

“Thanks to the health promoters we’ve learnt a lot about preventing and minimising illness; I’ve learnt how to care better for my children. Many people have hope now that change is possible and realise they have to do their part to make it happen,” Judy said.

Today, Cerro Candela is a healthier community and Judy imagines a brighter future.

“I had problems with my oldest son. He eventually went back to school and I decided I’d go with him. Now I’m starting secondary! A million thanks to people in Australia. Your help is a blessing from God for us.”

To donate, support or fundraise for Project Compassion 2012, please visit our website at or Ph: 1800 024 423


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