Thursday, October 04, 2007

Martincitos and Earthquake Help

From Jacci:

Turibio was very sick - in the hospital and even in intensive care - but he is better now. He left the hospital but went to stay with a daughter in Chosica (or near there) where there is sun. The doctor did not want him to come directly to VES so he will be there for a few weeks.

Wensalaus (spelling?) Tamariz is not doing well. He is being given radiation treatments for cancer of the throat but this is only to make him more comfortable. The cancer has already spread to other organs.

I think the rest are "normal".

There is another group - composed of people from Los Martincitos and Solidez - going to Pisco again this weekend. They will help to clean out several lots of elderly people (The rubble of what were their homes). The women will also work with the women in the newly started comedores.

I spoke with Tonny and he said the bulk of the money your group has thankfully donated, will be used to buy food for the area that we promised to support with food every two weeks. I will see what I can do about getting you some photos to send out.

That was a big amount that you were able to collect. Thank you.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Fifth Installment from Jacci

Jacci writes again about what what she has seen, heard and done for earthquake relief. If you would like to donate, you can contact La Cruz Roja Peruana or Caritas Peru (you can Google them), OR YOU CAN READ DOWN TO THE SECOND ENTRY WHERE JACCI INCLUDED THE ADDRESS FOR DONATIONS HERE IN THE STATES.
September 18, 2007

Dear Family and Friends,

This is my third attempt at writing this reflection. Hopefully you will receive this version.

I did not write before this because last week was an especially busy week but also I needed time to "process" some of my experiences of the previous week.

As most of you know, I went again to the devastated area. This time to the city of Chincha to spend a week there in the company of five other sisters. We were responding to a call from Confer (The Conference of Religious) to give a week of service in the affected area.The others are Peruvians and all are nurses. We all found more than enough to which our preparation could respond.

We were assigned to Cristo Rey Parish, a very large parish in the center of Chincha. It is the center of distribution of all the donations that come through the Catholic Church and in particular Caritas Peru.

So a grand part of our time was spent in receiving the donations as they arrived on trucks , sorting them and then loading them again on trucks - this time to the seven parishes of the city and, of course, to the Cristo Rey Parish which is quite extensive.

The other grand part of our time was spent visiting the "ollas comunes" (common pots). Because the parish could not possibly begin to respond to the nutritional needs of the people, these "ollas" were established - one every two blocks. This means that the families in the area could organize themselves, pool their resources, little as they may be, and ask to be recognized by the parish so that they could begin to receive supplies from the parishes. The aid they are now receiving is not sufficient but, at least, it is something and it is teaching the people how to organize and help themselves. It is a sign of hope for them as well as a means of taking the first step out of the terrible situation in which they find themselves.

Many speak of their experience: "I never thought that I would be doing something like this." "We never had to keep records before and so we are having difficulty with this. (The records are the donations they receive, the amounts of food from these donations that are used each day, menus of the food prepared and distributed, amounts charged for each portion, money used to buy "extras" that are needed for the preparation of the food, amount of food that they still have, etc.). This is a first step in learning how to organize and run a small business. For many of these simple housewifes it is a real learning experience.

Others speak of the benefits of solidarity. "I never really knew my neighbors. Now we are working together and helping each other, and not just in the preparation of food." "I know see that I can do something to help others." "Together we are going to start again and come out of all this."

All speak with gratitude for what they are receiving or for what the parish is trying to do to help them.

Each day the six of us would go two by two to the different sectors of the parish. There I would concentrate on the "ollas" while the other sister, being a nurse, would seek out the sick. I almost said "in their homes" but since so many of them no longer have homes or those that do many are not safe to be living in, this would not be the correct term.

Most are living in donated tents (and many of these tents were intended for the beach or for camping in the summertime - not for the large families nor the cold nights for which they are being used.). Many are living in estereas (Esteras are woven mats - meant more for the tropics.) or in makeshift structures of any materials that happened to be around.

Because the sites where their homes were are now heaps of rubble, many of these "living quarters" are now in the middle of the streets or the sidewalks. It is , therefore, very difficult to walk down some of the streets and impossible to go in a car or a truck down other streets. Some times we had to carry donations from the corners because the truck could not get any closer to the "olla" where it wanted to go.

These living conditions are causing problems. It is never easy to live in crowded conditioins- more so now when some are still experiencing shock and trauma. Another problem is that of hygiene; cleanliness and resulting illnesses. There are many children who are sick with respiratory problems, colds, diarrhea(the water is not clean because of many broken water and sewer pipes.), skin allergies and infections because of the dirt. Adults who suffer from diabetes, high blood pressure, etc. are no longer receiving their proper medications. Those who have broken limbs because of walls falling on them need crutches to help them navigate the piles of rubble.

Some buildings are still standing but they are dangerous to be near because of the continuing after shocks which are causing more walls to fall. I skirted city hall which is on the corner of the street where the church is. The cracks seemed to get bigger and one day a huge chunk did fall. The tower of the church has cracks also (They tell me they can be repaired but ...) and one piece of the tower lays on the sidewalk in front of the church. The sacristy of the church was completely destroyed.

The church itself isn't being used for religious services at this point. It is the storage room for the donations waiting to be distributed. But this too is religious service!

Just one more sentence to sum up some of the physical conditions of the area: Someone said, "It looks like one of the European bombed out cities after World War II."

Now for some of my personal experiences with the people:

*** Several times I passed a lot where an elderly man, alone with his wheelbarrow, was cleaning up his house. I never spoke to him because he seemed so intent on his work. I wondered though what it is like to clean up one's house in this manner. Clean up now has a new meaning for me.

*** I remember the little girl of four or five years of age who was crying because her mother had gone out (Actually the mother had only gone to the corner) and the little girl was frightened "because my sister is in bed and does not talk and the earth might move again." When the mother returned, we learned that the sister had been born handicapped from birth. In the beginning the mother brought the child to Lima to John of God Hospital for the Handicapped(a three hour bus ride followed by another ride on city buses) but had to stop because of lack of money. So the child who is probably about 12 now does not receive any therapy. I have a picture of her. If I ever learn how to download the pictures from a digital camera, you will get to see her - so beautiful and always with a smile.

*** I stopped one day to visit a handicapped boy, Walter, sitting in front of what was his home. His mother and grandmother soon joined us. The grandmother had experienced the loss of her home in the mountain area during the earthquake and had come to Chincha to live with her daughter, not knowing that that home too had been destroyed.

*** Another mother of two handicapped adult children told me of her experience in the earthquake. She knew that she could not carry her two handicapped sons out of the house in time so she enfolded them in her embrace, prayed and the walls of that room did not fall!

***Another women told me a similar story. She was with her elderly mother who had Alzheimer's and can not walk. She too knew that she could not get out of the house in time carrying her mother so she stayed with her. The walls of that room cracked but did not fall either!

***Other families were not as fortunate. One mother spoke of her six year old daughter, Joanna, a student in the first grade at Fe y Alegria. The mother was working in the market at the time of the earthquake but the father was at home with Joanna. He was sleeping though before leaving for a night job and awoke when the shaking began. He tried to find Joanna but could not. He escaped but Joanna´s body was not found until several hours later.

*** I did not meet another mother but I was told her story. She is a single mother with two small boys. Since she is alone, she has to work so she would lock the boys in the house when she went to work. She was working when the quake occurred. The boys were buried in the same coffin because there were not enough coffins available at that time because of the huge number of deaths in the area. Seven children died who were in Fe y Alegria, the school I mentioned.

***I recall the man I met who was trying to hammer (with a rock since he had lost all his tools buried in the rubble) a small pot into a usable shape. It had been smashed under a wall. Pots and other cooking utensils are some of the donations which are arriving slowly but are greatly needed. Among the other donations are: stoves, medicines, blankets, sleeping bags, diapers, clothing.

I could go on much longer but I think you can see the picture. The first step of just being alive has passed. Shelter and food - poor and limited as they are - have been found. Now it is the clean up stage. I only saw a bulldozer twice during the week I was there and this was in the center of the city. What are they doing on the outskirts?.

After that it is the future. Where and how can the people "resurrect" from all this. They have a wonderful spirit - I was so impressed by their determination, optimism and energy - which, hopefully will be sustained by their mutual support and solidarity as well as that of people like yourselves.

Let me conclude with a story that I heard yesterday. Saturday was the one month anniversary of the earthquake. I was not there but I was told that the "ollas" in Pisco decided to celebrate the event in this manner: Half of the "ollas" were to cook one part of the meal. The other half were to cook the other part of the meal. Then they all would come together in the main plaza of Pisco and put the two halves together and thus share the meal - a symbol of their unity in the midst of this destruction and suffering.

Beautiful, no?


Con cariño,

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Jacci's Fourth Earthquake Entry

(What amazes me about Jacci's observations is the amount of help coming from Los Martincitos. They have nothing themselves, but they can always find a blouse or a pair of shoes or a kitchen spoon to help those who have less than nothing. Anything we can send to Los Martincitos will help them sustain their effort to help those even worse off than they are! - editor)

As most of you already know I spent two days this past week in Pisco, one of the major areas devastated by the earthquake of August 15th. As in the other reflections, there will be no special order just a series of thoughts, reflections on what the experience was for me.

We - a group of ten - left Villa El Salvador at 6am Wednesday morning. We had been scheduled to leave at 5am but that´s Peruvian time! The group consisted of representatives from three organizations: Los Martincitos (our program for the elderly poor), Solides (a NGO in the area) (Non-Governmental Organization) and CIFO (a school in San Isidro, an affluent area of Lima).

We traveled in what is generally used as city public transportation. We needed the space as we were carrying: two stoves, four giant sized pots, other kitchen equipment, about twenty sacks of clothing, food to feed 100 families for two weeks, plus our personal supplies, such as ten sleeping bags since we did not know where we would be sleeping.

We did not arrive in Pisco until 1pm because we stopped for food (We were not certain if we would be eating for those two days or not ( The group that had gone over the weekend to search a place for us where help was most needed did not have a full meal while they were there.) and also because in some areas the Pan American Highway are in very bad condition causing the traffic to go very slowly.

We did not go to the center of Pisco because help has been arriving there but stayed in an area called Vista al Valle (Valleyview) which is more on the outskirts of the city.

The area has two parts, divided by a hill. The one side of the hill consists of a group of one hundred families that arrived there in March of this year. They are living in "esteras" (huts of woven mats), without water and electricity in an area of sand. The weather is hot during the day, very cold at night and has little rainfall.

The other side of the hill consists (I need to say consisted) of homes made mostly of adobe bricks and probably were there (in some state of building) for 30 or 40years. There was light, water and sewerage there.

Now the area is almost completely leveled and many of these families are now living with their children or grandchildren on the other side of the hill in the "new" area. This means that two, three and even four families are crowded into a very small living space.

I said the area was almost completely leveled. The few houses that were still standing will probably have to be leveled also since they are not safe. It is dificult to walk through the streets because of the rubble. Families have begun to "clean out" their lots - doing it by hand. What must it be like to take your home brick by brick and throw it out into the street?

It is strange how the damage went. One house was leveled except for the bathroom which was a separate structure located in what was probably the back yard.

In two houses, a wall was still standing and the portraits of the parents was still hanging on the wall!

In another lot, I saw a man lifting what was probably the frame of the front window. Some panes were naturally broken, others were still perfectly intact.

No machinery has come into the area to help clear the area. So the people are there working alone, trying to find some articles of use or trying to clear out some of the rubble.

Let me share some other painful images that come to my mind:

People waiting on lines for cooked food, with their plates in their hands, their children at their sides. This food has been donated or bought by the group and then cooked in a "common pot" to try to extend the food. The portions were not even half of what our people receive in the Martincitos' program. (One of the objects of our going there was to encourage the people to organize, form "common kitchens" so that they can help each other in a more formal way, be recognized by the government , and begin to receive supplies of rice, beans and cooking oil monthly from the government. It is the system that we use in Villa El Salvador.)

Food is the biggest need at this point. Water and food is just not arriving into these areas.

The fact that there is little water is a concern - without water, how can one cook, wash, prevent diseases, etc.?

When I spoke of the people working cleaning out the rubble, I was referring to mostly the elderly, children and women. The men were for the most part out looking for aid or work. The area is an agricultural area and this is the time of the asparagus harvest so that ,at least, is a help for the people. But it was so dificult to see the elderly doing the clean up work. (In reference to the agricultural work: the men get up at 3am, leave around 4am, arrive in the fields around 5am to begin work and probably return around 4pm. And this is not just the schedule for "earthquake time".)

We were there on the Feast of Santa Rosa de Lima, a national holiday but there was no holiday for the field workers.

There was dust, dirt everywhere. And little water to clean one´s hands with.

One of the most painful sights was on the road where we had to take a detour because of the collapse of a bridge. There was a strong smell in the area - decay? stagnant water? (One of the men who had gone into the area on the weekend said that they had gone further into the city and this smell was quite prevelant there.) Because the traffic must go very slowly through this area, the elderly, children, women with small babies have gathered there pleading for help from the passing cars and buses. It will be a long time before I forget the expressions on their faces.

Now for some of the promising signs, the signs of hope.

In our area, there are signs all over saying that donations are accepted here or remember our brothers and sisters in the South, pray for them, be in solidarity with them. There are monetary collections in many institutions and in all the churches. Even Los Martincitos added to the collection. We had planned a fund raiser for last Sunday but it was cancelled and the supplies that we had collected for the activity were sent to "the south".

In the Pisco area, some of the signs that gave me hope were:

Sembrando Esperanza, (Planting seeds of Hope) - This sign caught my attention as we walked down the street. A mother with her two adult daughters were using the money that they had received from two daughters living in Europe to cook everyday for their neighbors. They were receiving nothing in return except the satisfaction that they were doing their small part.

The laughter of the children - It was so good to see them laughing and playing in the midst of so much suffering.

The laughter of the adults - We had a meeting with the community - in the dark - and before the meeting actually began, I could hear the chatter and laughter that was coming from the groups as they gathered.

The eagerness of the women to learn how to organize their "common kitchens" and their joy in the moment of the inauguration of the kitchen and the distribution of the meal (spaghetti with tomato sauce - which we had brought with us).

Their openess to receiving us into their community and giving us space in their already overcrowded homes. We slept on the ground alongside of them. (But we had our sleeping bags while they were sharing thin blankets.)

Their spirit - I did not hear anything of "Poor me" nor "what are we going to do?". But rather how can we begin? What can we do to hep each other?

It is this spirit that is going to help in the long haul that they have before them. I know the shock will wear off, the reality will set in and it is then that they will really need our help and support. That is why our group is going to continue to go into that area to try to see their needs and hopefully respond to them. It is not a work of a few weeks but rather of months and perhaps longer.

Your continued support in prayer and concern is a blessing for all of us. Thank you for this!

May God reward you as only God can!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

More from Jacci

Dear Family and Friends,

I have been wanting to get this off to you before now but it has been a busy week. I actually did try to compose something one evening but it was just too difficult. How does one express the experience of the country that is so painful and so long drawn out?!

I am not going to try to put these thoughts in any special order. They will be written as they come to mind.

This past week the question that one was greeted with was, "Where were you?" One did not have to ask "Where was I when what happened?" Everyone new what the other was asking. Those who were in buses were the lucky ones. The earth's movement is not felt if one is in a moving vehicle.

The schools were closed for several days and some are still closed because of structural damage even here in the Lima area. Of course in the area of the center, it will be a long time before schools are able to begin again.

The flags are at half mast and many events have been cancelled. Los Martincitos was going to have a "fun day" of games, dances, prizes, food, etc this Sunday but it was cancelled because we said that we could not celebrate when the country is in mourning.

People slept in the streets for many days out of fear. The many after shocks did not help the situation. Many are sleeping in tents in the streets now because their houses no longer exist. Some figures: the official count of the dead is 513, injured 1042, (over 700 of whom have been airlifted to Lima hospitals),4 out of 5 hospitals in Pisco were destroyed, in the center of Pisco (a city) not one building was left standing, not one church in the city was left standing. two Daughters of Charity died in the collapse of one of the churches.16,670 buildings were completely collapsed and 80 to 90,000 partially destroyed.

Some bright notes: two babies were born in the middle of the tragedy and their cries brought hope to the people. The tsunami that was threatened did not occur. The response of the international community has been overwhelming. We - the SSNDs have received donations and letters of support and encouragement from so many, many persons. A baby was saved by his Father protecting him with his own body (The baby was rescued from under the dead body of his father.). One of our parishioners lost two of her relatives but their 5 year old grandson who was in church with them obeyed their command to run quickly and so was saved.

In the days after the earthquake, we began to hear sad stories as the news filtered through. Not just one of our Martincitos lost their hoome (or part of it) but three did . Next week there will be a new group of volunteers coming and since there are several young people in the group they will be rebuilding these homes.

Some of you know Meche who worked for many years with our Sisters in Comas. She came last Sunday to tell me that her Father was in an area where no help had arrived - meaning the area was without water, blankets, food, tents, etc. This was four days after the earthquake. I have heard other similar stories.

Some of you know Irene Pullido (one of the Martincitos). She came in Monday telling a similar story rega rding her son and his family.

Today one of our Martincitos, Celinda, said that she has not heard yet from her sister and brother nor her daughter and her family. I doubt that she will hear if she has not heard yet. (The telephone company put free phone service in many of the areas within two days of the quake.)

The cities have already begun to rebuild. This past week a group of 1000 men and women dressed in red hard hats moved into many areas to begin the clean up. These men and women were some of the survivors themselves willing to rebuild their cities again.

I have been waiting to see how I can personally get involved and I received the answer today.

This morning we received a letter from Confer (The Conference of Relilgious) asking us to consider visiting the over 700 victims and their families who are presently in hospitals in the Lima area. I spoke with the chaplain of a big hospital in Lima today so tomorrow at 9am I will begin my visits. Please pray for me that I can bring some peace and hope to these suffering people.

I also heard this morning that I will be able to go with a group into the devastated area from Wednesday to Saturday of this coming week. The group is composed of representatives from Los Martincitos, Solydes (a NGO in the area) and CIFO (a school in a rich area of Lima). Their plan is to go to a small town in the outlying area (which has not received much aid yet) and begin to help there. Groups will be sent each week for as long as we can. One of the first jobs will be organizing the comedores there (common kitchens) and then working on a house for each family. These modulos will cost $800 each. Since we will be bringing food into the area each week, this will be another big expense.

Hopefully I will be able to share this experience with you all next week.

In the meantime, please pray for all the people who are reaching out in so many w ays.

The night of the earthquake, I said to all the people I met, "We are alive! Thank God!" NOw may we continue to bring this message to those who might not be certain that it is a blessing to be alive at this moment because of the suffering they are still undergoing.



Thursday, August 23, 2007

Another View of the Earthquake

Thought you wou ld be interestesd in hearing what Marcella has to say. Marcella is a Canadian SSND living in Canto but has been in Peru and Bolivia for many, many years.

The following letter is from Sister Marcella Reitzel in Peru to one of our sisters here in Canada:

I want to tell you about the earthquake - mostly simple facts since there is so, so much that could be told. Feast of the Assumption - 6:40 p.m. - August 15th; - worst in about 40 years, not in number of deaths, but in intensity; 7.9 (in Lima area 7.5); and in length, 2 minutes and a few seconds. Epicenter -almost 5 hours from Lima in bus; there also have been about 400 aftermaths, tremors and quakes. Numbers change every day but reports are around.

510 deaths and still digging out the buried -(at least 1 death in Villa el Salvador from fallen wall, and 28 in Callao, our sea-port just an hour from us); about 1000 wounded and receiving free medical help; about 16,670 buildings entirely collapsed and 80 to 90 thousand not safe anymore. Some of these are in our areas too, and many schools are closed because of danger; our library will definitely need the new roof now. We have been wanting to put a new one on ever since those 2 children fell through and one died; but because of the expense we just never were able to do it Now with continuing tremors, all are afraid to be there. Some churches and hospitals collapsed burying many and other such structures can no longer be used. Help is being sent from all countries but is difficult to organize and control. There is so much looting of the trucks; and, in the disaster area; when the trucks arrive, the people fight over the things - they are so very desperate for water, food, warm clothing (it's winter here) and just about everything. They have the armed forces helping now. Our seaport , Callao was hit with a gigantic wave that flooded much of the city and caused so much destruction and debris. They were warned that a Tsunami could be on the way and many evacuated their homes. In the epicenter, the fishing boats were washed up onto the streets. Thank God the Tsunami never arrived !!

Our experience in our people's chapel: we had, attached to a 3 meter high heavy wooden cross, another wooden cross over a meter in length with a plaster-cast image of Jesus. This fell to the terrazzo floor during the quake. The 2 crosses broke into a dozen pieces and the plaster image of Jesus doesn't even have a chip!!!! It is so entirely incredible that we feel it is a miracle. Only a framed picture fell and broke in our house. When we ran out to the street, the asphalt road was heaving so much, in wave-like sensation, that we thought it was going to open up under us. No one ever had such a frightening experience. We are all very fine but sure were shaken up.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Jacci's Earthquake Experience

Dear Family and Friends,

I wrote a long letter last night and lost it. Hope I have better luck with this try.

Some of you have already received a short message from me - either directly or forwarded - saying that the SSNDs and all our houses are in good shape. I wrote that from an internet cafe in another area because we did not have electricity in our area for more than 28 hours.

Probably you have learned much through the news reports and some of this might be repeated but...

On Wednesday evening at 6:40 pm there was an earthquake of 8.0 on the Richter scale with its epicenter in Ica, a city about 125 miles south of Lima. Because of the strength of this movement there was terrible loss of life and property in Ica (at this point more than 500 dead and thousands injured). The shock was felt strongly in Lima and even as far away as hile (south) and Ecuador (north).

Hospitals, churches, schools, homes, roads were destroyed. The rescue effort is hampered by the fact that the Pan American highway, the main road into the city, is in shambles in many areas. Supplies are being sent in by air and the seriously injured are being flown to hospitals in Lima. (I had a personal experience of this when I went on Thursday to see one of our Senior citizens in a hospital in Lima . I could not get in because the hospital was overwhelmed with the victims that had been brought in from Ica.)

Perhaps my personal experience of the earthquake will be of interest to you.

On Wednesday I left our house en route to our church for evening Mass (We only have Mass on Wednesday evening.) I was just about a block or so from our house when the dogs began to howl (They sense it before we do) and the earth began to move. I have experienced many tremors since I have been here but none like this. It is a strange experience to see the ground moving beneath one´s feet.

There were several bursts of what looked like lightning . It was the explosion of the electric transformers. When the sky lit up, it had an eerie color because of all the dust (Remember our roads are not paved in many places.). I must admit that it did cross my mind that this might just be the "end time".

I had just began to greet Tony´s mother (Tony is the director of Los Martincitos´program) before the shake began. We were hugging each other when suddenly she screamed, "¡Los Niños!" (The children!). With that she began to run to her home with me in tow. I told her I could not run in the dark as quickly as she could but that did not matter to her. At one point, I was aware that we were under trees that were swaying back and forth. I was glad to be moving quickly at that point.

After we were reassured that her grandchildren were safe, I went back to our house because I had left two Canadian volunteers there. There were leaving for church after I so I expected to find them in the house. But they were not there. I decided to continue on again to the church.

By this time it was very dark and walking on unpaved streets is not easy. The walk to church usually takes less than five minutes. That night it was over a half hour before I arrived there. The reason was that there were so many people on the street, crying, talking, praying, looking for family members and since I am well known here,(Even in the dark the "gringa" stands out.) many stopped me to hug me, to ask if I were okay, to cry on my shoulder, etc.)

At one point, I found one of our rather feeble Senior citizens from Los Martincitos. I helped her find her home. She now refers to me as her Guardian Angel.

When I arrived at the chapel, I expected it to be full. But it was just the opposite. The priest who was still there said that the people who were there when the earthquake began all ran out to go to their homes to see if their families were safe.

I found my way home and the Canadians were still not th ere. So I went looking for them. I returned home worried since I had not found them only to discover that they were there safe and sound. They had used their heads when the earthquake began and went to an open area (It is loosely referred to as a park) in front of our house.

We spent the rest of the evening sitting in candlelight listening to reports on a portable radio. There was not that much information available at that point because all communication had been cut off with the area most affected.

Many of our neighbors spent the night sleeping in the streets for fear of another strong movement. Today, Saturday, we are still experiencing after shocks and so many people are still very upset and worried. Several of our "Martincitos" were still very nervous when they arrived at the program on Friday.

We slept in our beds that night but I did sleep in my clothes for fear that we would have to go running.

The next day, I spent most of the day visiting the homes of our "Martincitos" to see how they fared and in what condition their homes were. One of the homes - that of Nicolas and Angélica - suffered much damage. Angélica´s bedroom had completely collapsed. Luckily she was in the next room when it happened. Also another wall had fallen. Several of us spent Friday afternoon cleaning out the area and then today, Saturday, several were going to rebuild the room.

If I can (I am not expert in the matter), I will send some pictures of their home to you.

There was a beautiful but sad picture on the front page of our newspaper yesterday. It was that of a young boy holding his mother in his lap. She was severely injured. It made one think of the Pieta because of the way the figures were presented.

There have been many touching,painful stories: that of the 200 people buried in a church where they were attending the Mass for the Feast of the Assumption. It was in this same church where everything fell except for the image of the Crucified Lord over the main altar. It reminded us of the Señor de Los Milagros image.

In another church, the people were not harmed because they were outside the church in the middle of a procession in homor of Mary.

The picture of bodies laid out in the main plaza of Ica was the most difficult for me. I could not imagine what it would be like to walk through that plaza looking for your loved ones among the bodies.

The uncle of one of our neighbors was one of the victims. The family could not go to the funeral because the roads are so blocked.

There are so many other stories....

The suffering of the people will continue for many more weeks and months as more bodies are found amid the wreckage, as people try to rebuild their lives and their homes. Please co ntinue to remember them in prayer.

Some of you have asked how to send money. I do not know how to do it, and do not know if you can do it from your area but the information in the paper was to send donations (in US dollars) to the following banks:
Scotiabank Account number 3022500
Interbank " 2000000001118
Banco de Crédito " 1931586951116

I thank you all who have written, tried to call and could not get through (the lines are okay now), prayed for , worried about us, etc. Your support and concern are a blessing!


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Latest News from Jacci

Last week Lorenza Sulca returned home to God. It was a blessing. She had been in a semi coma since December 28th so it was a long wait. She had been in her home all that time (since some time in January that is) but the last few days were spent in the hospital since she had developed pneumonia.

More of Lorenza's life can be seen at the Adopt a Grandparent website, listed below.

We had a lovely celebration for Father´s Day. Sergio Guzman -a Mexican American volunteer who has come to the program several times - was here recently and left money for a Mariachi group to come to play for an hour for the abuelos. They loved it!

We have many volunteers these weeks since it is vacation time in the north. The newest group arrived this morning and they are all women!

Monday, February 12, 2007

From "Elena" Today 021007

Sister Jacci is not here for a week and it is always a little more dissorganized when she is gone.

It was just a typical day.

The abuelos are doing a new art project using a soft clay that does not need firing. The teacher, Elana, is new and she is really teaching them some stuff about art. The were working with primary and secondary colors and what they get when they mix them. Then they were mixing these colors together into the clay colors. She has hundreds of small cookie cutters but for clay and they cut shapes and put them together. They are actually quite professional looking and they are selling them. They make earrings, flowers on sticks to stick into your own plants, cards, items that hold calendars cover the out side of small pots or containere, etc.. She has quite a group working on them and they are very into it. Elana is very energetic.

First words from Elaine in VES

Hello There:

Today was my first day. Boy was it hot!! It was so good to see everyone. Saturnina, Henricatta, Maria Louisa, Eduardo, Nelli, Maria Inez, Pappy. I am not sure of all the spellings but you get my meaning. Of course losts and lots of kisses. It was just a typical day. Served breakfast and lunch. Helped with an art project and we (new volunteers) taught a group how to play dominoes. That was fun.

I stayed and ate lunch there. We actually had a fruit bown with a sweet dressing over it. It was really good. Jacci said they were trying to get more fruit into their diets. Then I had rice with veggies. I walked to and from. It really was quite hot. Jacci said it had been unusually hot.

Monday, January 22, 2007

At the far Left is Trinidad, and left is Demetrio. Trini died some time ago (in November I think) but my own health has kept me from updating this blog. Demetrio was wonderful to her, especially in the last three years when she was bed-bound. These Photos were taken several years ago at a Thanksgiving Dinner provided by CCS. It was the last time I saw her in a wheelchair.

Marienella also died in Late October or early November. I don’t have a picture of her or her Husband Erlindo. Again this was a couple that took Loving care of each other.

Please forgive the lack of news, I’ve been in and out of hospitals, and Jacci has been in the States for two months visiting everyone (including me).