During 2016, children across Canada have been learning about children living in the Amazonian region of Peru, through the free educational materials provided by the Holy Childhood Association.
This Christmas we need your generous gifts to support the work of missionaries like the Sisters of St. Joseph who established an educational service for girls with the support of Catholics worldwide. The school 'Misión Chiriaco' is located in the north-eastern region of Peru, in the province of Bagua, Imaza district. In 1968, the sisters crossed the river answering the call of God and that of local leaders from the Awajun, the second most numerous tribe in the Peruvian Amazon.
Most of the children at Misión Chiriaco come from families living in conditions of extreme poverty. Their livelihood depends on their natural resources, fishing from the Marañón river, hunting or the meager production from small scale farming. The children travel long distances to the closest centers of education, with some walking 2 to 3 days to get to the school. Consequently, the school offers them holistic educational services that include lodging, food and a healthy loving community in which to live.
The school opened with only 9 girls nearly 50 years ago. Today, 400 girls are enrolled every year into Secondary School and due to the limited capacity of the nearest Primary School an additional 100 boys receive primary education.
The values observed in the school are many: austerity, creativity and utilizing all available resources for improving living and learning conditions. Cultural practices are a focus for the school in their efforts to keep alive the autonomous nature of the Awajun . The children have their tasks and complete them independently. Equality is a key in their educational process, developing an awareness of the limitations that gender biased societies impose in girls. Most importantly a joyful and faith-filled spirit.
On the other side of the river, where the school is located is a native community called Wachapea, which has allowed the sisters to settle in their territory. The sisters have been integrated into their community, the women and leaders have invited the sisters to sit at the main table at the assemblies and they are consulted on important decisions for the Wachapean people. The learning has been mutual, for both the sisters and the community. The sisters say, 'This town has called us. When you are part of a community's life, you give your whole self in the good times and in the bad times.'
Your support from Canada not only helps the sisters to provide lodging and food to the young girls and children of the Awajun, but also ensures they can respond with medical assistance for the children, provide uniforms, books and school materials as well as teacher support.
Your support will reach children not only in Peru but many other children living in rural areas and in great need of a faith-filled education.