Helping Hands and Amor en Acción continue to supply water, meals, clothing and temporary shelter not only in the city of Trujillo but beyond, in the surrounding villages of the La Libertad department of Peru. We are also providing safe areas for the children to play, and counseling support for their mothers.
KCIS 630 radio host, Carrie Abbott, interviewed Shannon Field, Executive Director of Helping Hands, on her “Relationships Insights” program which aired on March 29, 2017. Listen to her describe Helping Hands’ origin, its evolution, the services provided, how we were ready to act immediately when the floods struck, and the on-going needs of the flood victims.
This past couple of weeks has felt like a lifetime to me. I have never felt so deeply inadequate, useless, and personally connected to devastation before. I was driving when my WhatsApp rang. Wendy and I often talk in the evenings, so it wasn’t a surprise when I saw her name on caller ID. The moment I answered the phone I knew things were not OK. My friend was crying and beginning to panic. The rains had started the day before and they had not stopped. Trujillo was flash flooding, and mudslides were destroying everything.
“Amiga, you need to call Coco, it’s very bad out in Victor Raul.”
At this point, I had no idea if we even had a school left standing. After a panicked text to my board and some close friends, I got on the phone. The news was not good. Roads were washed out; homes were washed out in the muds, and dehydration was quickly becoming a problem. Temperatures were still in the 90s.
There was, however, some very good news. Our building was standing. Coco through his own emotion explained to me that because we had made the decision to redo the septic tank, it reinforced the foundation of our west wall. On our south wall, we put a new roof. It also reinforced the wall and prevented the rains from getting in and ruining our sewing machines and classrooms. Our little broken down school was standing, and the community needs our help, and the mayor was calling us for help.
With the roads and bridges being washed out and the rains predicted to last up to a month, we knew the food and water trucks would not be getting in anytime soon. We reached out to our partners at Water Missions, and they provided at cost ($10) to us water storage containers. This meant we could give away our clean well water and leave enough water for a few days.
I honestly could not tell you how many days I have spent crying this week. I have seen videos and gotten voicemails from friends and loved ones who are scared and have lost loved ones due to this disaster. I have also seen something incredible. I watched our organization work exactly as it was designed to: We did not have to organize and prepare as we already were ready. We are lucky to be a community-based organization. After my first conversation with Coco, we prayed, hung up the phone, and we both went to work. I doubt either of us has slept much over the past couple of weeks.
To those of you who have given. THANK YOU! Thank you, does not even come close to how grateful I feel to the love you extended. Every $10 we raised provided a water storage container filled with water. We have also been able to provide about 300 meals a day, and now we are taking silos to areas that have been cut off and have not had water for close to two weeks. You made that happen. You allowed me to say “Go.” It was probably the single biggest word I have ever said. To be honest, I was not at all confident.
Clean water is only the beginning of the problems this community faces. Physical safety is an issue; dehydration, hunger, disease are rapidly on the rise. Rebuilding can begin only when the rains stop. With our rainboots on the ground, we are already addressing these issues and planning for the future. Our goal is $100,000. We know that water is only the first step. We already see the first signs of disease on skin and respiratory issues from stagnant water. I fear for my friends and family. This was more than a catastrophic natural disaster, it is the worst rain Peru has seen in over 50 years and possibly the worst ever in destruction.
I could write volumes about the impacts thus far, but I’ll save those for another day. For now, please help us help the men, women, and children of Trujillo through this disaster. Donate now. It is a few easy clicks either using PayPal or a credit card on our website, or at gofundme.
Thank you for your support,