Mary MacKillop International is the organisation that supports the relief and development work of the Sisters of St Joseph.
The Sisters of St Joseph have been living and working in Perú since 1981. During that time they have worked in both rural and urban communities. The Sisters have always sought out those in the community who are most marginalised and vulnerable. In the past they have been both a supportive and pastoral presence but also provided practical assistance and leadership.
In 2011, the Sisters continue to live out the legacy of Mary MacKillop by supporting the poor, and like Mary, helping them to break free from the poverty that prevents them from accessing all of their human rights. For many people it is the basic rights such as the right to water, health, education, food that are the hardest to access.
Sadly, the face of poverty is a feminine face. Women are the most vulnerable in many communities and those with the least opportunity to access the inalienable human rights that we all share. The Sisters and MMI work hard to strengthen communities by supporting and empowering both men and women. However, it is the women who have the least amount of access to income and educational opportunities.
The Sisters with the support of donations given to MMI are able to work with the women to organise income generating activities, skill building workshops and support groups. The Sisters also work with local professional people to organise health programs that are accessible to the poor. One of the cornerstones of Mary MacKillop’s legacy is education, so the sisters work in both formal and informal educational settings to ensure children and adults get access to the right to education.
Mary MacKillop International (MMI) is committed to working with those most marginalised to break from poverty. Donations to MMI support life giving development programs in both Peru and East Timor.
Mary MacKillop International
Click here to visit the Peru Region Spanish Site:
This program focuses on on educating parents and children about dental hygiene, diet/ nutrition, and the impact that poor dental hygiene has on general health. The dentist (Christian) who runs this program received a scholarship from Mary MacKillop International to complete his study and now gives one day of the week to educating the families and fixing the cavities in their teeth. In the 2-5 years age group the Christian saw 92 children, 90%of these children had cavities that needed repair. Christian is now focusing on the 6 -12 years age group. He will run education sessions for the parents and the children and then he will organise appointments for all the children to have their teeth checked and fixed. Better dental hygiene means all round better health.
This is a special needs and disability project. The participants meet together each week and take part in planned activities. These activities offer opportunities for socialising with peers. There is no other outlet for these young people. The program is essentially run by young people from the parish who volunteer their time and energy.
Whilst the participants are occupied their mothers and carers have an opportunity for a much needed break from their role as carer. During these few hours each week the women /carers gather together to make beaded jewellery and to discuss with each other the challenges they face. They see this time as a time for themselves and they find it therapeutic. They are also able to make some income from the jewellery that they sell. This small income helps with the cost of getting treatment for their children.
MMI is supporting women’s artisans groups. The women are trained to sew, knit and make jewellery. They are trained by local women who assist with the skill building and quality control. Once the products are of a commercial standard they are exported to Australia and sold through Ethica Accessories. This provides a helpful income stream for the women. Some of the newer groups that are just starting out and building their skills take every opportunity to sell their products locally. Approximately 100-150 women participate in these workshops.
There are four components to this program:
a) Income generation
b) Training the trainer
c) Capacity building
d) Self esteem building
The issue of violence mixed with poverty causes great stress on individuals and families. MMI works with two psychologists and a physiotherapist to assist people with the stressors of living in poverty and struggling to eke out an existence.
There is a high rate of domestic violence in some of the poorer areas of Peru. MMI is now supporting a Non Violence Program run by one of the psychologists –Willy. Willy runs workshops for men and women in the poorer areas of Motupe and Jicamarca. The workshops contain sessions on communications skills, problem solving and conflict resolution. When people gain the skills to deal with conflict then families and communities become more peaceful.
This ten week program focuses on reconciliation and forgiveness as the foundation to the transformation of conflict and violence at both a community and individual level. The course will be run by the Sisters in several different communities throughout Peru.
The Fe y Alegria School in Tarma is located on the side of a mountain high above the town of Tarma. The school caters for local children many of whom are living below the poverty line. It is difficult for parents to pay fees to the school or provide resources for their children. The school receives no government funding and will not receive any government support until it reaches a certain size which is still some years away.
MMI has been assisting the school by supplying funds for water and sanitation projects, learning support and staffing.
In 2011 MMI will be supporting an integrated environmental program at the school which will further enhance the communities’ understanding of their environment but also create income generating opportunities. Stay tuned for the news about this program.
The Sisters of St Joseph together with local parishes they are supporting groups of older Peruvians who have lost touch with family and community (many of them have come from the mountains) and who do not receive government assistance.
Every week the five different groups gather around the Motupe area. Each group gathers in the area close to their homes. They participate in social activities and outings, handicraft workshops and networking with each other. One of the groups has even decided to start their own community vegetable garden! Coming together to make friends and socialise and share their life experiences has made a difference in the lives of these men and women. At the very least it has helped restore their dignity and self esteem.
Some of the less obvious benefits of these groups are that there are now a group of people who keep and eye on each other’s welfare. The coordinators of each group are able to identify people’s needs and help connect them to health clinics and other health professionals when needed.
MMI is committed to ensuring dignity and justice for these people of the ‘Third age’.
This area of Jicamarca is a newly developing and poor area on the outskirts of Lima. There is no running water and electricity is sporadic. Many resources are needed in the area.
MMI is funding learning centres that are set up to assist children with their homework and also to provide some extra learning support. Literacy levels are low. Many families have come from the jungle regions and are living in poor conditions.
Many children with special needs cannot afford extra learning support outside of a school setting.
This project assists small groups of children with special needs with their literacy and numeracy development. Education is the key to breaking the poverty cycle so it is programs such as these that make sure children are given the best opportunities at learning.