Zapallal - The work of the refuge
The focal point of our work in Peru is our refuge for children in Zapallal, near Lima. We regularly provide food, shelter and support for about 40 children and young people on a residential basis. We interact with their closest family members and also use our refuge as a base for wider work in the local community. We also distribute a variety of material goods sent from the UK, both to the refuge, to the families of our childen, to the immediate community and from time to time into the interior of Peru.
Our refuge is to the north of Lima (Cono Norte) and is situated within a particularly disadvantaged part of the Lima conurbation.
Our work there and in other parts of Peru continues within the complicated economic and political climate in the country, as described elsewhere.
Peru has experienced difficult times in the past and there has been much displacement and disruption to family life over the past generation, particularly when this project was started. To an extent, though, that problem has eased over recent years. But although some parts of the economy may have improved we try to focus on the parts of society that are still exposed to extreme poverty.
Though initially the project worked entirely on a voluntary basis, we have now created paid employment for our staff [all Peruvian, mostly local]. New children are referred both by word of mouth and through referrals from appropriate services in the vicinity of the refuge, or from further afield. They can be longer-term residents, but others we help on a temporary or transitional basis. The criterion we use is that they have needs that we can address. The children are not specifically "street children" in the current popular understanding of the phrase, though some may be, and some might be if we did not help. Many do have relatives who for different reasons cannot care for them. Some unaccompanied children come for short periods until they can be accepted into other neighbouring refuges or until they can reunite with family members to try to rebuild their normal family lives. Some residents ultimately relocate with family members in Lima; in some cases they return to their original communities in the interior of the country, in other cases they settle in the vicinity of Zapallal, or in other refuges. For those who stay with us till they leave school we do our utmost to help them with their future lives. We are developing new work, especially with some of the family members of the children living in the refuge. We are also developing our new facilities so that they can also be used by members of the local community on a daily, non-resident or casual basis for a number of activities with which we may become involved.
To view more photos of daily life at the refuge click the links below.