Supporting the Sisters of St Joseph in Peru

Key statistics

Across Peru, the Sisters of Saint Joseph are working hard to provide support to those “who are on the edges of both church and civil society, encouraging belief in themselves and helping them to achieve small goals, working together in trust and friendship”.

million people live in peru
people will participate in these projects
communities will be supported by these projects

The majority of these grants will be supporting schools across the country. The closure of schools and the implementation of online classes during the COVID-19 pandemic, meant a major challenge for students and teachers since no one was prepared for this situation. In the case of teachers, they did not have adequate knowledge of software and tools for planning and giving online classes. In the case of students, the lack of interaction with their peers affected their mental health and decreased their ability to socialize.

With the return to school, it has been observed that many students are struggling to readjust. COVID-19 restrictions have not only impacted people’s physical health but mental health too.

2 1,139 people will participate in these projects 33 million people live in Peru About this project 65+ communities will participate in these projects “Returning to school is a key moment to boost learning through play and recover from something the learning lost during the pandemic. Due to the restricted time that children spent outdoors and lack of exercise during the pandemic, a very important area of playful learning is psychomotricity which is focused on helping children to have better control and knowledge of their body and physical abilities.”

Sister Rosario Zurita Silva

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. Catholic Mission is committed to achieving the SDGs. In working with our partners to develop projects, we consider the SDGs and how each activity might contribute strategically to this shared global vision.

These small grants aim to support as many people as possible. The Sisters of St Joseph hope to achieve a range of goals by the end of the project period, including:

  • Improve children’s emotional intelligence and increase their resilience
  • Provide students in the diocese with skills in ethical values
  • Improve the quality of education in the Diocese
  • Integrate and promote playful learning
  • Reduce emotional and health difficulties post-pandemic within the community
  • Train teachers in leadership skills and promote their empowerment
  • Form a leadership framework to support staff in schools
  • Provide the school community with safe and healthy spaces conducive to learning
  • Support and encourage the participation of students in the contests organised by the MINEDU and other organisations to improve the student’s learning, self-esteem, and motivation to keep learning
  • Provide a space for the elderly to meet with those in a similar age bracket where they will feel accepted, welcomed, and respected
  • Enable participants to access the help they need at all stages of life
  • Improve children’s health and social skills
  • Encourage a love of reading and improve literacy skills and knowledge bases of students

The individual projects which will be run by the Sister of St Joseph are as follows:

Educational materials and emotional support for high school students

Located in Lima, this project seeks to address the lack of teaching materials available in tutoring classes at Colonel Jose Balta Secondary School. These classes provide students with knowledge of ethical issues, emotional intelligence development, and access to counselling services. The class is taught by Sister María Cecilia Paiva Huaringa.

Funds will be used to purchase teaching materials that contribute to promoting research and improving the quality of education such as books, office supplies, and technological tools. Sister Maria will also receive additional training to provide students with the support they need.

Early Childhood Education support
Located in the Puno region, in southern Peru, this project seeks to provide teachers with additional training in playful learning, promoting the importance of play to parents and school executive personnel. It also proposes purchasing teaching materials to help foster holistic learning such as books, stationery, musical
instruments, art supplies etc. The project also seeks to raise awareness and involve family members and school managers in the teaching-learning of personal expression. Two training workshops will also be offered to teachers and assistants, so they are equipped with strategies for incorporating play into student learning.

Training of management cadres in the Fe y Alegria schools
Also located in the Puno region, this project seeks to provide professional development for 11 teachers and possibly result in increased salaries for participants. The goal is to strengthen teachers’ management skills at two schools, one in San Juan del Oro and the other in Macari. Training will consist of a mixture of face-to-face and online learning about leadership, where they will receive emotional support as needed given the added stress of a post-pandemic world.

School support and dining room construction at Mary Immaculate
At Mary Immaculate School in Tarma, a small city in central Peru up in the Andes, students can represent the school in a range of competitions including maths, chess, and oratory skills. Many students, however, do not have the financial ability to afford to attend and the school is unable to support them as finances are already drawn thin. This results in students losing interest in their studies and lacking in motivation to learn.

This project seeks to provide support to students who wish to participate in such competitions. Funds will cover a range of support for students, including lunch on competition days, uniforms, school supplies, and transport to venues. To stimulate student interest and participation, the project also intends to give a small prize of some school supplies to students who do well at competitions. Some funds will also be used to purchase food and travel fares for teachers. When a contest is held onsite at the school, funding will be used to set up the event.

Additionally, students do not have a safe and hygienic place to eat their lunches. Additionally, the Peruvian government has a school lunch program called QaliWarma which provides food to public schools; however, the school does not have a place to store and distribute the food.

The construction of the dining room can serve as both a safe place for students to eat and a quality environment to store food supplied by the government. The dining room will be able to sit approximately 40 students at a time.

Leadership formation training
Across Saint Peter the Apostle Parish, there are 65 communities dispersed around the Amazon, Nanay, and Momon Rivers. Nearly all of them are in a state of social abandonment by local authorities. This project seeks to alleviate challenges, supporting community leaders to address local issues.

Leadership workshops will be on offer so key individuals can enhance the well-being of their communities. The workshops will also give the Sisters an opportunity to follow up on community well-being. The formation of new leaders will have long-term benefits in their communities.

Physiotherapy sessions at Our Lady Peace Parish in Lima
Many people in Our Lady Peace (Nuestra Señora de la Paz) Parish require physiotherapy due to accidents, illness, and occasionally repetitive strain from everyday work. Older generations worked hard in their youth doing physical labour to help develop the area. Seventy percent of the Peruvian population work in the informal sector and are therefore not covered by health insurance.

Due to the poverty of the people in this area, stress and burnout are very prevalent and physiotherapy can help alleviate this. This service is not financially available to everyone though.

This project covers the cost of materials used during physiotherapy sessions, such as equipment, disposable gloves, electrodes, cleaning materials, etc. The service is provided on a walk-in basis and currently, the patients pay 25 soles (AUD 10.05) a session.

Project participants include some youth, but the service predominantly caters to older men and women in the area including seniors. It is impossible to forecast how many will seek help. In the last six months, the numbers have been less than those pre-pandemic which totaled about 600 sessions for 12 months.

Creativity workshop
Bethany House, currently called Kailla Kipu, is a program created to support the livelihoods of women in a Peruvian town called Pacific Hill in Lima. It offers different activities such as cooking classes, cultural excursions, theatre, reading clubs, and handicrafts. Every year, children in the surrounding community are
invited to participate.

The funds of this grant will be used to buy gymnastics-sports equipment, books, and other resources. The creativity workshop will provide weekly sport and activity sessions on Saturday afternoons.

This project seeks to improve the children’s physical health and well-being and increase their self-esteem, which will benefit them in their future lives. It is also hoped that in fostering their desire to read, they will discover the pleasure of reading and it will be yet another skill that they can take into the future.

Aged care support
In the Our Lady Peace (Nuestra Señora de la Paz) Parish there are many elderly people who have limited opportunities for social interactions and participation in social activities.

The project is run in five groups across the Parish with each group coordinated by a volunteer. There is a general program of suggested activities, but each group is different, and can direct their own programs depending on individual needs. Every month Sister Mary Dwyer will meet with the coordinators to discuss
what upcoming activities are planned. Some activities include tai chi, board games, singing, dancing, and crafting.

Each of the five groups meet one afternoon a week within the grounds of one of the local parish complexes. The time together provides an opportunity to stimulate mental activity, learn and teach each other new handcrafts which they can sell or gift to friends or family. All can participate in Tai Chi sessions offered
regularly by Sister Mary.

The groups often share a simple afternoon tea which is prepared by the volunteers who run the session. It is part of the Peruvian culture to provide a light refreshment at any type of gathering. At times participants are connected to local medical posts if there is one in their area. This might include free health check-ups or visits by a psychologist or doctor.

Participants are invited through Masses, but there is no need to be Catholic to participate in the project.