Covid in Peru
Last update: 9.15.20
On top of becoming the 2nd epicenter in South America and ranking 5th in the world for most Covid cases, Peru has over 735,000 people infected and 31,000 have died. These numbers are based on limited testing and actual projections are said to be at least double. Peru's medical system has also been declared "collapsed" and strict quarantine rules have led to country wide starvation.
In the beginning of March 2020, Peru closed off all its boarders and imposed strict quarantine rules. Peru is a 3rd world country with very limited medical resources. They only had 200 ventilators in the entire country when Covid started, leaving their hospitals completely unequipped to handle the breakout. In May, Peru's medical system was declared "collapsed". The sick are now being turned away at hospitals and clinics, told to go home and isolate themselves. Families are being told that if someone dies in your house, to wrap them in cloth and cardboard and place them in the street the following morning for a truck to pick them up. Mass graves are being dug for the dead throughout South America. Families cannot have funerals for their loved ones because it goes against gathering guidelines.
Peru also has millions of people living in slum-type extreme poverty throughout the country. These people do not have access to clean water or daily food, leaving them the most susceptible to the virus and starvation. Covid is spreading fast in the slums because these people live in nothing more than cardboard shacks. Impoverished neighborhoods are being closed off by the military in order to limit infection. But this also restricts the poorest people from access to their local city markets and stores for food. So if you are not sick, you are most likely starving. For thousands in Pucusana and millions in Peru, starvation has become an even greater fear than Covid 19.
Peru was in quarantine from March to the end of June and then opened up because their economy was crashing. Since then, Covid cases have spiked. The latest news is that 1 in every 3 Peruvians tested for Covid are infected. Because of this, lock-down has been reimplemented in August and no one knows when it will end.
What are we doing to help?
There were 10,700 people living in devastating poverty in Pucusana Peru before the pandemic happened. These people do not have clean water, many do not have electricity and they all live in shack type homes. With no work, money and very limited ways of getting food, thousands of Pucusanian people began to starve in April 2020.
The government has tried to feed the people and even provided food vouchers toward the end of March. But these rations were distributed based on a 2017 census which did not include the hundreds of thousands of Venezuelan refugees that have flooded Peru in recent years. When all was said and done, only 43% of the Pucusana slums received food, leaving 6,000 people starving.
Feeding the Starving
The Pucusana Project has been providing the funds needed to feed specific slum neighborhoods in Pucusana. We are working alongside residents from one of the wealthier beach front neighborhoods, local authorities and our local team to provide food to the thousands of starving people in Pucusana. The Pucusana Project has specifically provided food bags to two impoverished neighborhoods, totaling around 1,000 people, continually for the last few months.
Food bags: 1 of our food bags feeds a family of five for 2-3 weeks containing long self-life items like rice, eggs, canned goods and potatoes.
1 food bag costs around $40 USD.
In Peru, the typical school year starts in March and ends in early December. With winter setting in and the normal flu season starting in addition to Covid-19 quarantine; the school year never began and it doesn't seem likely too start back this year. Having school online is extremely difficult because very few families can afford a home computer and it is almost impossible to distribute class materials on foot. It is very likely that all students will miss an entire year of their education.
So The Pucusana Project has been distribution short-stories, puzzles, math equations, crayons and notebooks to the children in our neighborhoods as a way to continue what education we can and encourage learning at home.
The need for personal protective gear became very clear after three of the four doctors in Pucusana were infected by Covid. Sadly, in the beginning of May, one of the four Doctors we had died. Since then, The Pucusana Project has worked with other nonprofits and donors to buy what PPE is available from Lima City for the local Pucusana clinic and hospital. Prices are inflated and items are very difficult to obtain but with some luck, we were able to equip the medical staff as best as we could in late May, 2020. Unfortunately, they are still in need of many items and equipment.
On the ground
Elena Prado (pictured far left) and her son Isaac (pictured 2nd left) have been the local face of The Pucusana Project during the pandemic.
From their home they make phone calls to organize food distribution with the local authorities and prepare food boxes with local mini markets. Isaac even made breakfast meals every morning from 5am-10am during the month of May to feed the impoverished neighborhoods we are responsible for. They work with a hand full of neighborhood leaders like, Miriam (pictured right), to make sure the right starving households receive food during quarantine.