Building health and educational sustainability

| April 2, 2020 | 0 Comments
Students, including Gloria Nicole Perez Shapiama, centre, meet their sponsors at the school registration night at the beginning of the school year in Pucallpa, Peru. (Photo: compliments of Pure art foundation)

Students, including Gloria Nicole Perez Shapiama, centre, meet their sponsors at the school registration night at the beginning of the school year in Pucallpa, Peru. (Photo: compliments of Pure art foundation)

When it rains in the slums of Pucallpa, in central Peru, the streets of red earth become trenches of mud. The Ucayali River swells, flooding the homes on its banks. Many of these are only makeshift and often overcrowded. Roofs of taped garbage bags let rain seep into kitchens, soak beds and turn floors to mud.
It is during the Amazon’s rainy season of March that the Pure Art Foundation (PAF) volunteers typically arrive in the community of Los Jardines and to the Hub of Hope, where the PAF’s programs are centred. Since 2010, the registered Canadian charity, headquartered in Vaudreuil, Que., has been focused on community-building and sustainable development. PAF’s mandate is to help reverse the self-perpetuating cycle of poverty by strengthening public health, housing and education: the three pillars of its programming to foster lasting and systemic change.
All of PAF’s programs in Peru radiate from the Hub of Hope, which serves as a community centre for a sprawling slum of 15,000 people. First-line medical care at the Hub’s dispensary responds to the community’s emergency and chronic health needs. Public health campaigns are periodically set up to treat children for parasites and anemia, both endemic to the region. Left untreated, these conditions can be fatal, yet the solutions are usually as simple and cost-effective as dietary supplements. The dispensary is also committed to women’s maternal health and well-being, and offers screening for cervical cancer.
Being poverty’s most vulnerable demographic, youth and women are at the forefront of much of PAF’s work. An after-school program at the Hub offers children access to healthy meals and tutoring to supplement their primary education. Help with homework is enhanced by cultural activities including dance and music as part of PAF’s Love of Learning Initiative. This initiative has recently expanded outside the classroom to the Hub’s community garden, where garden-based learning increases awareness about nutrition and healthy foods. In 2019, the Hub opened its daycare, where toddlers benefit from early childhood development programs by trained educators, preparing them for elementary school entry.
The Sewing Initiative is another essential component of the Hub. It is a skills-development program that empowers women to become self-sufficient through handiwork. Running daily, it offers young women, often single mothers, the training and craftsmanship needed to find employment. PAF’s Sewing Initiative sparked innovation by supporting a group of seven women who sought to launch their own small business: Creación Arte de los Manos. PAF will continue to play a capacity-building role for these entrepreneurs by assisting them in making their services and products more visible in the commerce sectors of Pucallpa.
The Hub is like a wheel, and each of these programs is one of its spokes. Ultimately, the durability and self-sufficiency of this wheel depend on programs to strengthen it from within.
Education was PAF’s first initiative in Pucallpa, starting with the sponsorship of two young girls, sisters Amelia and Guadeloupe. It has since gained momentum and has grown to fund the education of more than 300 schoolchildren and 34 university students on an annual basis.
A university graduate student in psychology, Guadeloupe has become a mentor to other children of Pucallpa. She meets the children and their parents every Friday at the Hub to offer academic guidance and support. Her sister, Amelia, graduated in culinary arts and is now self-funding her studies in law, as she expressed a “desire to do more for her community.” Amelia and Guadeloupe are shining examples in Los Jardines and potent illustrations of the self-sustaining power of education.
After 10 years of creating infrastructure and capacity-building, PAF continues to be driven by its mission to promote sustainable development in poor and marginalized communities. Looking ahead, PAF’s engagement in Los Jardines will transition from infrastructure to program strengthening, with community stakeholders playing an ever-increasing role.
This year, 68 volunteers of all ages — the youngest is 12 and the oldest is 88 — are preparing to return to the Hub of Hope, where they will assist the local team and collectively contribute their own skills, time and labour to programs that keep lifting this community toward a brighter future. They are engineers, nurses, pharmacists, physicians, teachers and students, just to name a few of their vocations.
The Pure Art Foundation is so named because it was created in tandem with its sister project, the Pure Art boutique, a fair-trade store that sells items made by marginalized artisans. The profits from the Pure Art boutique cover the foundation’s expenses so it can send 100 per cent of all donations directly into its respective programs.

Liam McKinnon manages public relations and communications for the Pure Art Foundation. Visit www.pureartfoundation.org to find out more about its programs.

Be Sociable, Share!

Tags:

Category: Diplomatica

About the Author ()

Liam McKinnon manages public relations and communications for the Pure Art Foundation. Visit www.pureartfoundation.org to find out more about its programs.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *