THE ORPHANAGE PROJECT – Peru
In 2014, Soroptimist International of Peterborough partnered with the Hogar Belen Orphanage in Moquegua Peru. We provide financial support to assist with their needs.
Nestled in the Peruvian Andes mountains south east of Lima, Peru, lie the many small mountain villages of Peru’s poorest, often referred to as “the forgotten people”. Visitors never visit these regions and the government pays little attention to the needs of the poor people. One city, Moquegua – the epicentre of a very destructive 9.9 earthquake in 2001, is the hub for the purchase of all supplies needed by villagers. Unable to travel (very mountainous and no transportation), or purchase supplies, the villagers depend on the support of missionary priests and religious Sisters to identify, purchase and deliver basic needs including basic medications, tools and educational resources. Father Gio Battaglini, a Peterborough Ontario priest volunteered to work in these areas 1990 – 2001 before his death in Peru after the earthquake.
50 years ago, In Moquegua, Sister Loretta Bonokoski of Winnipeg, Manitoba opened up her home with the religious Sisters, to care for abandoned children of single mothers and child victims of political violence, and extreme poverty. When her home became too small, she was offered accommodation in an abandoned military housing unit. This new home was called “Hogar Belen” meaning “Inn of Bethlehem”. At the time of the 2001 earthquake in Peru, 250 children, infants to university age, were living in this home. Every child received an education – many excelled at college and university and all honed many skills as they contributed to the chores and all responsibilities of family living at home. The home was deemed inhabitable after the earthquake and everyone had to move to a local farm to live in the stables and makeshift quarters. There was no hydro or running water etc.
When Father Gio left his villagers to visit Moquegua to purchase supplies for them and do his banking, he lived with and administered to the children at Hogar Belen. Whenever he visited Peterborough, he shared his experiences in Peru, and received many, many donations of support for his poor in Peru. These funds and others raised by the Sisters of the Missions in Manitoba, were and are still the funds used to support and educate the children. Father Gio was always proud to say that EVERY penny donated went and still goes directly to the children. Separate donors supported his villagers. All donations go to the “Sisters of the Missions” in Manitoba where they are forwarded to Peru and donors are receipted from Canada. Sister Loretta passed away in 2016 and 2 new Sisters, whose Mother house is in Winnipeg, now very capably administer to the children.
Father Gio’s sister, Maria, of Peterborough has continued fundraising projects for the children since his accidental death. A Soroptomist teacher friend of Maria in Peterborough, introduced this project to the Soroptomist group and Hogar Belem is so grateful for their decision to support the Hogar as one of their many excellent projects of compassion.
The “SCHOOL PROJECT” – Colombia:
Recommended by one of our members, this project supports two girls by the name of Maron and Sara. They are in elementary school. This school is situated in a rural area outside Medellin, Colombia. The funds donated by our club are used for the school’s food program, so Maron and Sara are able to eat breakfast and lunch every day. Any additional funds are used for their uniforms & other much-needed supplies.
Recently, on the occasion of her 50th birthday, our member requested funds in lieu of gifts from family and friends that were attending her birthday party in Bogota, Colombia. She immediately put the donated funds (some of which were from our club members in Peterborough) toward the purchase of two new computers, printers, software and peripherals for the students to use.
Past President Catalina presenting computer equipment to the girls’ school in Medellin, Colombia