An intensive and community-wide focus on the wellbeing of children has helped an isolated rural community in Peru to overcome many challenges and build a solid foundation for the future.
In the Lamay area of Peru, the local indigenous community has long struggled with an extremely harsh climate, widespread poverty, and limited health and education services.
When World Vision commenced an Area Development Program here in 1997, it began by talking to local families about their children and about the impact this new generation would have on the future of the entire community.
Many development initiatives focusing on health, nutrition, agriculture and economic development flowed from these child-focused foundations. Not the least of which has been an awakening of the role that fathers can play in ensuring their children's wellbeing.
Program activities have included:
- educating parents how to keep their children healthy
- training volunteer "mother advisors" to monitor the health and nutritional status of every child and every pregnant woman in the area
- establishing health monitoring centres in each community equipped with scales, health education materials and basic medicines
- encouraging parents to provide their children with physical and mental stimulation, to make toys and play with them
- ensuring older children are involved in designing and evaluating community projects.
A recent evaluation of program activities revealed many positive outcomes. The percentage of children under 3 suffering from chronic malnutrition had fallen from 65.9% to 38.7% and some 90% of women in the area were giving birth in a health clinic or hospital instead of just 30% when the program began.
As one community leader remarked: "We used to think that working the land was the most important thing to do. Now we know it's looking after our kids."
Through the long-term commitments of child sponsors, World Vision can live and work in communities like Lamay for many years and develop the trust needed to foster deep and sustainable changes that put the wellbeing of children first.