Zapallal – the work of the refuge

Very early days at our 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 50 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, to the refuge, to the families of our children, 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.

Peru has experienced much displacement and disruption to family life over the past generation, particularly when this project was started. We try to focus on the parts of society that are still exposed to extreme poverty.

Though initially the project worked in Peru entirely on a voluntary basis, we have now created paid employment for our staff (all Peruvian, mostly local, predominantly female). New children are referred by word of mouth or 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 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. 

Education is a critical issue. For all our children, and especially for those who stay with us till they leave school, we do our utmost to help them with their future lives. We continue to develop new work, especially with some of the family members of the children living in the refuge, and to support some of our older children, when they leave school, with their further education and training.

We also try to maintain a healthy and nutritious diet with help from our own kitchen garden.

To view more photos of daily life at the refuge click the links below.

Refuge 2007 and earlierRefuge 2008 to 2013Refuge 2014

Refuge 2015 Refuge 2016Refuge 2017 Refuge 2018

Refuge 2019Refuge 2020Refuge 2021Refuge 2022

Refuge 2023