News from Bev Cooney in Satipo, Peru, August 2015

Email from Bev Cooney, 2015-08-18    Published: Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Hi from Satipo. Here it is 2 weeks since we arrived in the jungle. It is great to be busy again.

Week 1.

So far I have organized for the disabled kids from 2 other towns to travel to my school everyday. My bus will pick them up and deliver them home every day. The mothers will be working in the factory with the disabled adults so that means their business will grow heaps. That is good for them. There will be about 100 kids in the school each day. That makes me very happy. Week one over.

Week two.

The second week has been much more interesting. I am sure you have all heard of the Shining Path. They are a rebel group of terrorists who over the last 30 years have killed many thousands of people here in Peru. 30 years ago they kidnapped many women and used them as baby making machines. A couple of weeks ago these women and many children were rescued by the military from the deep jungle and have been taken to a camp in Mazamari which is a town 45 minutes away from here. They need an incredible amount of help and they are being kept safe for now in a huge police base.

Because of my previous work in the town I was able to go there the other day to see what I could do to help. With an interpreter I was able to communicate with them and ask what they want and what they need. There has been a telethon here in Satipo to raise money and for people to donate other things like blankets and clothes. The food that was donated was food that the people in town eat and its not what they are used to. A diet of yucca water and raw meat is all they have had for 30 years. They suffer badly from malnutrition and have the bloated bellies that go with it. They are full of parasites and have lots of nits. Also lots of skin conditions. They are not used to wearing clothes and the clothes from the people from town are uncomfortable and hot for them.

So I stepped in and have organized for enough material to make 2 kushmas for each of them. That is about 200 meters of cotton and at their request they want needles and thread to sew them by hand. Attached is a photo of a kushma. These people are of Ashaninka tribe and have been used as slaves where if they spoke they were shot. So the kids did not speak and the mums really don't know which children are theirs. Attached are a few of the women that I am helping. Some of the skin diseases are also attached.

The most important thing they want is homes and not to sleep in the beds that the police have provided. So I have organized for them to have a new village with 8 houses and a big building with no sides and a thatched roof for the whole community. The timber will be delivered tomorrow. The poles will be put in and then the women will attach the roof and sides, all of which are woven from palm fronds. it is amazing how quickly they work and learn.

Slowly the kids are learning to be kids. The police gave them soccer balls and it took only 1 day to learn how to use them. The police women are out of uniform and are caring for everyone. It is lovely to see how quickly they are responding. The kids will be going to school when the village is finished.

I have attached an article from the internet that gives you a brief overview of the rescue. (ED: see this link) I am working with the police to help them. The photos are compliments of the police.

Not too sure what I will be doing in week 3 but I'm sure it wont be that interesting. Nothing I do in the future will match the looks on the women's faces when I asked them what they wanted. It has been slavery of the worst type. I truly believe that no one has ever asked them what they would like to have and not be told what they will do.

The police are doing all they can to help me and I have free range of the police base. All of the stuff I buy in Lima will be flown out here by helicopter, police of course, for free. That will be lots of exercise books and pencils and coloured pencils and the material.

Thanks to the Rotary Club of Bathurst, I am able to build the village for them. 50 lives will be changed forever thanks to them. Sadly there are still about 100 children still in the clutches of the shining path and I can do nothing for them at the moment. Hopefully in the future I will be able to help them.

I will write again in a couple of weeks with an update on this.

Regards to all of you