PERU: Don Bosco Foundation of Peru highlights country’s COVID-19 orphans
Between March 2020 and June 2021, globally nearly 2 million minors lost a mother, father or grandparent
(MissionNewswire) Don Bosco Foundation of Peru is continuing its work to help families impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in light of the ongoing challenge of COVID-19 orphans in the country, according to the Italian publication VITA. The article noted statistics from the British medical journal The Lancet, which state that for every two people who die from COVID-19 a child is left orphaned or without a grandparent to care for them. Between March 2020 and June 2021, globally nearly 2 million minors lost a mother, father or grandparent. In Peru alone that is estimated to be up to 100,000 children.
Recently, the BBC reported the story of one family in Peru. Gabriela Zarate lives in a small house on the outskirts of Lima with her husband and eight children. Four are hers and another four belong to her younger sister, Katherine, who died of COVID-19 in June 2020. Katherine died at a time when the hospitals were full and lacked oxygen for those suffering. When she was turned away from the hospital, her family took her home and cared for her, but without the money to buy her oxygen there was little they could do. One of the last things Katherine did was to ask Gabriela to look after her children.
In a statement to the media, Father Manolo Cayo, provincial of the Salesians in Peru, described the situation in the country, “The Don Bosco Foundation of Peru worked together with the Peruvian church in a campaign to ensure oxygen was able to be secured and provided in hospitals. We also worked with the food bank in dealing with the food emergency. We have carried out direct intervention campaigns in more than 90 soup kitchens.”
Fr. Cayo added, “We have been guaranteeing digital access to school for the poorest adolescents and young people for almost two years, given that in Peru there has been no schooling since March 2020 and only now, finally, there is talk of a return at the end of March of this year. This lack of school attendance complicates the serious problem of orphans caused by COVID-19.”
In the article, Corrado Scropetta, representative of WeWorld in Peru, explained further, “The serious situation of Peruvian children in relation to the COVID-19 crisis is unprecedented. Even before COVID-19, grandparents took care of many minors, especially in cases of early pregnancies. Now many have also lost this familiar figure. In the tragic nature of what this phenomenon entails on a social and psychological level, the economic aspect should not be underestimated, given that these boys and girls have also lost all forms of sustenance.”
Roberto Vignola, deputy director general of the Cesvi Foundation, also added in the article, “Children and young people have paid the highest price due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They have lost parents or relatives who looked after them and for this very reason they often fail more to feed themselves regularly, they have had to drop out of school to support themselves, they live in a situation of mental distress and are increasingly exposed to the risk of exploitation, including sexual exploitation.”
Social workers believe that the impact of the pandemic on children has been overlooked since they are usually less affected by the disease than adults, although close to 1,500 Peruvian children have already died from COVID-19.
Peru faces high levels of income inequality and has more than a quarter of its population living in poverty, according to the World Bank. Poverty levels are significantly higher in rural areas but urban areas struggle most with inequality, most notably metropolitan Lima. Poverty in the country is made worse by a shortage of productive farmland and a lack of job skills among women entering the workforce, as well as a lack of adequate housing, nutrition and education.
Salesian Missions – Peru
World Bank – Peru