Increased poverty and extreme poverty threaten in Peru because of COVID-19. “People will be pushed into poverty, and people in poverty will be pushed into extreme poverty,” one of our partners said when we asked what the future holds.

Communities are struggling to meet current emergency needs and at the same time prepare for life after lockdown.

In San Isidro, a rural community still recovering from the 2017 floods that washed away homes, crops, tools and the community well, people have learned that their best defence against threats like COVID-19 is to pool their resources and skills and plan their future together.

With funds provided by Heart-Links’ donors, our partner Centro Esperanza has worked with the community over the last year to establish a community association, develop sustainable farming practices, ensure a water supply for consumption and irrigation and defend community members’ rights under Peruvian law.

“I’ve always said that if we organize, we can achieve our goals,” says association president José Santamaría. “Now people are beginning to participate more. They see we are serious. They see the benefits. It’s the only way we’ll move forward.”

José Santamaría stands front of a bamboo fence.
San Isidro community association president José Santamaría

With the onset of COVID-19 and disruptions in agriculture and commerce, the association has been forced to redirect some of those project funds to purchasing food for community members. Some, but not all. They decided to put aside monies earmarked for their guinea pig business until COVID-19 has passed. “They asked us to reserve it because it’s the only thing they’ll have to be able to survive afterward,” said project coordinator Ana Mio.

COVID-19 has spread to the countryside, where health care services are inadequate and water is scarce. In a community near San Isidro, seven people have died recently in quick succession. Centro Esperanza is sharing with community leaders guidelines about social distancing and hygiene. And they are working with them to access government emergency benefits.

In the coming months, Heart-Links hopes to reinforce the efforts of families in San Isidro “to move forward.” We, too, want to ensure community members are able to meet their needs now and in the future. Your donations will help the people of San Isidro reach their goals.