Visit to the Cuna Jardin, Corazon de Jesus.

It’s almost Fall in Arequipa and the school term is beginning, including at the Cuna Jardin Corazon de Jesus. When the parents, usually single mothers, don’t have alternative child care arrangements the children come to the Cuna Jardin over summer holidays – January and February. Once the regular term – for nursery and kindergarten as well as the homework club for the older children – commences then about 120 children attend.

The Cuna Jardin is open from 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM, providing both pre-school and after school care for the children.  Because of the extended hours parents are able to work knowing their children will be well taken care of. Without the Cuna Jardin many parents would not have alternative child care arrangements; a common sight in Arequipa is a mother selling goods on the street with accompanied by her child (ren). Although extended family care is still the norm in Peru, many of the poorest families have left their traditional homes in the country to come to Arequipa in the hopes of finding employment and to provide for their children.

Pictures from the visit can be seen here:

Visits to Cuna Jardin and IRID

I was in Arequipa for a few weeks and visited both the Cuna Jardin, Corazon de Jesus and IRID. So far this year the weather has been better than last year and there’s been no issue with rain. Because of summer holidays the Cuna Jardin doesn’t have the full number of children, but there are some in the homework club and several younger children come daily while their mothers work. A volunteer has been coming in to work with the children. Photos from the visit here:

There are 35 living at IRID, an American group is volunteering several days a week with the children, and doing work around the grounds including building benches and picnic tables. The Government has required IRID to make changes to emergency lighting and fire extinguishers but is not providing funding for making the changes.
Photos from the visit here:

Latin Music Night a success!

We had a huge turnout at the annual Latin Music Night at the Yardbird Suite,people came to enjoy the music bid on the wide array of Silent Auction items and to support the work of SUPC in Arequipa, Peru.

Thanks, as always, to the musicians and dancers for volunteering their time and talent: Los Rebeles Musicales, Jorge Vargas, Mariachi Mundo, Oscar and Judith Garica and Marco Claveria group.

Thanks as well to the volunteers for helping at the door, with the food and the silent auction: Board members Brandy Berry (and her daughters Skye and Sage) and also Aisha Oboh,: volunteers Hope Martynuik, Doris Lachat, Cecilia Acat. And special thanks to Pam Josey of the Yardbird Suite.

Photos from the event here:

Peruvian Dinner a success


Volunteers, Board members with cook Carla Tamayo Aragon .

We had a good turnout at our 7th annual Peruvian dinner with food once again provided by Carla Tamayo Aragon. In addition to the food and a dance performance by Ines Castañeda we held a silent auction of Peruvian and local items. Photos from the evening can be seen here:

Visit to IRID and Home visits

This past week we visited IRID and also with the Director of the Cuna Jardin, Corazon de Jesus, and a social work student doing her practicum we also visited  to homes of some of the children who attend the Cuna Jardin.
The Director of IRID, Dra. Mary Luz Barreda , presented me with certificates of appreciation –for me and for the SUPC Board members.

IRID is located on the outskirts of Arequipa and did not suffer damages from the intense rains that fell throughout January, February and most of March. However, in discussions with Dra Mary Luz we went over some of the issues affecting the Centre. The main issue is the lack of Government funding, including lack of support for the therapists, who work with the residents of the Centre. As well, funding support from Europe has also decreased as the former support is now being directed to the needs of refugees arriving in Europe.
We also went to visit some of the families whose children go to the Cuna Jardin. Most of the parents are single mothers whose partners have left, however we met a single father caring for his child as well.
The area where many of the families live was affected by the rain – the roads are made of gravel and were washed out, we had to make a long detour to get to one of the homes.
Another road was also blocked and we walked to the home..
The homes are basic, two have tile floors; the others were concrete. One mother, whose partner had left her, was living with her child in a single room the only furniture a single bed and a two burner hotplate for cooking.
The Cuna Jardin does more than just offer classes for the children. They keep longer hours than most nursery schools or kindergartens also provide child care while the parents work, and study time for older children in the afternoons after their regular classes are over.
More photos can be seen at:  Cuna Jardin Visits and  IRID Visit

Arequipa Update

Peru has been undergoing severe rainy weather the past few months with mudslides, rivers overflowing and infrastructure collapsing.  Arequipa has been spared the brunt of the rain although some of the roads and bridges have collapsed and water has been cut for almost a week because of broken pipes and almost all the city has been without running water. Classes officially began at the beginning of March but the Government has cancelled all classes since last Thursday as it it’s considered unsanitary to have the children in locations without access to water in bathrooms. However IRID is a home as well as a day school and the Cuna Jardin has taken children whose parents have no alternative for childcare, both are coping with the lack of running water with delivery from water trucks. Once the dirt roads have been restored we are planning on making home visits the second week of April.  We will also be visiting IRID again and will send an update on both agencies in April. 

It’s Fall and traditionally the end of the rainy season, but this year the forecast is for the rains to continue until the end of April. Once water is restored the Cuna Jardin will have more than 120 children attending classes, work still needs to be done on the ceiling in some of the classrooms which buckled because of the rain and the roof will need to be repaired and a moisture barrier added. All of the classrooms also need new chalk boards.  Although there is a small fee that parents are asked to pay at the Cuna Jardin, many families, especially women raising their children without support from the fathers, are not able to pay anything. As well, the fee only covers a small portion of the costs, the funds we donate help to cover the costs of children whose parents can’t pay as well as the difference between the fee and the on-going expenses.

Photos from the Cuna Jardin visit can be seen here:


Visits to IRID and Cuna Jardin


Both Tracy and I visited both IRID and the Cuna Jardin Corazon de Jesus this past week. Summer in Arequipa is the rainy season and this year the rain has been particularly severe flooding many homes and also washing out roads. IRID was not affected by the rain but two of the children’s classrooms at the Cuna Jardin were damaged, the roof will need to be repaired and a moisture barrier added and then the ceiling of the classroom repaired.

As its summer holidays there are only about 35 children attending the Cuna Jardin, once school starts in March there will be more than 120 children ranging from two to five. During the school year, after their regular school hours are over, older children come to the Cuna to participate in a homework club.

We also met with Roberto D’Amico, Peru Inside Out travel agency, who provided a special Christmas celebration for the children at the Cuna Jardin. We discussed various ways of providing information to travellers about the Cuna Jardin and ways they can help support it. I will provide an update as plans develop.

Currently there are 35 children and young adults living at IRID – when the children reach adulthood there isn’t another place for them go so they remain at the centre. Some of the residents have severe medical complications and require daily medications; the Government pays a portion of the costs but does not cover the full amount. Donations from SUPC help with the additional cost. Funds can also be used to help pay for the different therapists needed to work with the residents. It can be difficult to find workers willing to come to the Centre as it is on the outskirts of Arequipa – about an hour by bus – and private agencies in the City are able to pay more than IRID can.

Both agencies accept volunteers, currently a local US/Peruvian family is volunteering several days a week at IRID – doing outdoor work and maintenance. They have also started a vegetable garden and the more able children work in it – giving them a sense of accomplishment. There are also two volunteers currently working with the children at the Cuna Jardin

Links to more photos of the visits here:



Outstanding Latin Music Night

We had a great turn-out for the fifth annual Latin Music Night, this year’s performers were Los Rebeles Musicales, Mariachi Mundo with Jorge Vagas, Marco Claveria Band and Sebastian Barrera.

In addition to the music, there was a video presentation on SUPC and the agencies we support in Arequipa, a silent auction and refreshments.

We’ve once again booked the Yardbird for the last Sunday in October for next year’s sixth Latin Music Night.

I’m heading to Arequipa in mid-January and will update with information on the agencies after we’ve visited them.

Link to some of the pictures from the night can be seen here: