The land and buildings at the refuge


Project Peru owns the piece of land in Zapallal, District of Puente Piedra, on which the children's refuge has been constructed. The dimensions of the land are approximately 75m x 56m; the total area is approximately 4180m²; the total length of the perimeter wall is approximately 261m. The refuge at Zapallal started from scratch with no buildings at all. Since 1992 Project Peru has supplied funds regularly over the years to make, first temporary, then permanent, basic, functional buildings and secure perimeter walls to suit the needs of the residents.

As well as continuing to refurbish and use our original buildings we have been enjoying the use of new buildings and facilities built between 2005-10, and have been developing and extending the garden. 

We have  been able to focus on improving the general environment at the refuge including paths, grassy areas, particularly in the garden around the 'choza' and in areas around  the new buildings. This includes flowers, shrubs, ornamental and fruit trees and vegetables.

The main final structural work and both exterior and interior work on the three new buildings were completed in 2009-10. This provides space for educational and practical activities including the library, music room, language teaching room, sewing room, our computer room, accommodation for our visitors and for our Peruvian and foreign volunteers, storage for our cargoes before distribution, our office and administration and space for performances and meetings. In addition we have refurbished our original dormitories, kitchen and bathrooms.

During 2011 we acquired a new piece of land near the refuge [approximately 1000 square metres] for future development of accommodation for some of our older boys, and for wider community use subject to funds being available in future. We have already developed part of this site as an environmental project, together with a kitchen garden which adds economic, educational and environmental value. See elsewhere in this website about our 'secret garden in the shanty towns.

Past history

Extensive new building work was carried out between 2005 and 2010 and this eventually allowed us to take in more children, to provide more facilities and help us to prepare the children for more independent living when they leave our care. As well as for more independent living spaces for the children and young people in residence, we hope eventually to open sections of our refuge for wider use, say for literacy / numeracy classes, and education, craft or training provision for adults, and especially for some of the relatives or families of the resident children and young people.

Stage 1: July-August 2005
During this period we had both funds and hard labour from a group of 30 students via the RAF's UK Universities Air Squadrons. They worked mainly on preparing a multi-purpose sports pitch in the NE corner of the land, which has now been completed, and started work on the ground floor of a new dormitory / living accommodation in the SW corner. Click here for photos of Stage 1.

Stage 2: January-March 2006
The work begun on the new dormitory / living accommodation was finished by our architect and his team, with the completion of the walls of the second storey and the roof of this new 2 storey dormitory / living accommodation block. Click here for photos showing the later stages of this work, including views of the multi-purpose sports pitch in use.

Stage 3: December 2006-March 2007 
This called for more funding to complete all internal work on this block, and also for the replacement of the former administration block to provide new administration space, classrooms, workshops, rooms for volunteers, dining room, kitchen etc. Click here for photos of this work.

Stage 4: April-May 2007

The finishing stages of the exterior and interior of the first building (a two-storey dormitory block) were being completed including four bedrooms, each for four people on each floor, with bathrooms, study room, house parents' room and washing area. Click here for photos of this work. Progress was made (including the roofing ceremony) for the second building, which includes, provisionally, a new dining room and kitchen, and administration offices on the ground floor, and meeting rooms, study rooms, volunteer rooms on the first floor. A water storage cistern was build, but this still needed links to the main supply and more significantly to a main drainage system which was soon brought to the Zapallal area. Click here for photos of this work

Stage 5: June 2007

Further work was been completed on the second floor of the second building, on strengthening the exterior wall and removing one of the gates. Click here for photos of this work.

Stage 6: July 2007
This included 'launching' the first pillar of the third 'service' building (to include store room, maintenance workshop, laundry room and machinery / equipment room). During this time external public work has brought a main drainage system near to the refuge and eventually we will be linked in to this. Click here for photos.

Stage 7: April 2008
Progress was made on the third building, on strengthening the outer perimeter walls and repainting some of the old buildings: Click here for photos

Stage 8: 2009-10
The main structural and exterior work on the three new buildings was completed, we were nearing the final stage; some of the rooms were now in use, even though some services were not fully installed. We were also able to focus on improving the general environment at the refuge, particularly the garden. Click here for photos

Earlier history

By summer 2001 we had finished two dormitories (one for boys, one for girls) which we still use; and started on building a dining room and bath rooms. Additionally, in a separate block which has since been replaced, we created a number of other utility rooms serving different needs and varying purposes which were used as an office, computer room, volunteers' room, store room and workshop.Much of the early work, usually under Peruvian supervision, was carried out by volunteers and in most cases they contributed some of the funds. This included two groups of Irish and British young people in the summer of 2001, some of whom came to us via a leading trekking expedition specialist, while in previous years we had welcomed student groups, mainly from Edinburgh University who did a great deal of work on the perimeter walls.

Between December 2001 and February 2002 we did some fairly comprehensive new work, and refurbished much of the buildings existing at the time on the premises, including completing the dining room and bathrooms, plumbing, installing a water-pump and auto-regulator to fill the tank on the roof, cleaning up and reinstating waste outlets; and doing electrical work to ensure that adequate safety requirements were met:

We succeeded in transforming much of it into a more comfortable, safe, hygienic, and therefore congenial place to live.

Most of the first buildings remain in use, but from 2005 we started to raise sufficient funds to implement plans for a series of new buildings in the refuge.

 Click here for photos.

The former outside dining room was transformed into a friendly space for leisure activities, meetings, homework and study, sewing and other activities.

Outside dining area

One of our volunteers from the UK, ably assisted by some of the staff and the children, inspired a radical change in one corner of the refuge during a visit in August 2003 by constructing a garden. More recent photos show how far this garden area has been developed from the early beginnings.

The Land and Gardens at the refuge