A state of emergency was declared and a new quarantine ordered this week in the Andean province of Cajamarca. Until recently, the region had been successful in keeping cases of COVID-19 to a minimum, but following the relaxation of lockdown measures throughout the country, cases have surged in this overwhelmingly Indigenous region.

In the town of Cajamarca, a town of about 200,000 people, more than 4,000 cases have been confirmed. The entire province reports 11,550 cases as of July 27 and 294 deaths.

A woman and a girl stand on either side of a wooden figure in a garden.
Isabel Gutiérrez and a pupil of the Alternative Campesino School run by ACIES in Pomabamba, Cajamarca.

“What is happening in Peru is very sad,” says Isabel Gutiérrez, director of Heart-Links’ partner ACIES, based in Cajamarca. “But we resist, armed with hope.” ACIES is working on ways to help stop the spread, including making and distributing masks.

To encourage their fellow Cajamarquinos to follow the public health guidelines that will keep them safe but also to let them know they are not alone, ACIES produced this video. “We need to unite our strands, weave them together and rebuild our community,” says Isabel.

The song in the video, composed and sung by ACIES volunteer Martín Bustamente, tells viewers that now is not the time to give up on safety measures. It is not time “to celebrate a victory that hasn’t yet been won.”

But by pulling together, watching out for each other, they will recover from this pandemic. “Understand that your safety depends on you and everybody else. For you own good and mine, we have to protect ourselves.”

The chorus emphasizes solidarity and community and caring at a time when many people feel afraid and alone: “But look, my brother, your pain is mine. I offer you my hand today and invite you to walk with greater courage.”

Reaching out, taking another person’s hand and walking side by side, shoulder to shoulder, towards a better future and a more just world—that’s what Heart-Links and our partners are all about. Solidarity and community from people like Isabel and Martín, from people like you, will get us there.