In the late 1980s prior to Project Peru’s involvement, the land was settled and used as a refuge for children and families displaced during Peru’s ‘civil war’ and this was the basis from which we started in 1992.
Since then Project Peru has owned this piece of land. We are situated in Zapallal in the district of Puente Piedra, and our children’s refuge has been constructed in stages there. The dimensions of the land are approximately 75m x 56m; the total area is approximately 4,180m²; the total length of the perimeter wall is approximately 261m. The Project Peru 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.
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 bathrooms. 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, storeroom and workshop. Much of the early work, 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.
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. The choza – as it is known locally – stands on a terraced area and is a large, old open-sided shelter with a thatched roof. It was reconstructed to exactly the same design as the old one and is regularly in use, providing a peaceful area for classes, homework, recreation and meetings, and is now surrounded by a flourishing garden.
The main structural work, and both exterior and interior work on the three new buildings, were started in 2005 and completed in 2009-10. In 2005 we had both funds and hard labour from a group of 30 students via the RAF’s UK Universities Air Squadrons who worked mainly on preparing a multi-purpose sports pitch in the NE corner of the land. So, over a short period we were able to provide space for this large outdoor sports area; rooms for educational and practical activities including the library, music room, language teaching room, sewing room, our computer room; accommodation rooms for our visitors, for our Peruvian and foreign volunteers and our older girls; 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, and replaced the roof on the dining room. We comply with all the required health and safety regulations. In addition during this period we gained access to the public drainage and clean water provision.
We now have built a drinking water fountain at our refuge which has given us access to fresh clean drinking water at the press of a button.
Our adventure playground
We have developed this facility stage by stage and it is now fully utilised and enjoyed.
The ‘Duck House’ project
We have established this project and the ducks have been breeding well and providing us regularly with eggs and meat for the dining room.
Our ‘Secret Garden’
During 2011 we acquired this bare piece of land near the refuge [approximately 1,000 square metres] for use as a kitchen garden, and for possible future development of accommodation for some of our older boys, subject to funds being available. We have already developed this site as an environmental project, principally as a kitchen garden, which adds economic, educational and environmental value to our work.
See elsewhere in this website about our ‘secret garden in the shanty towns.’