Peru (MNN) — As the first influenza pandemic in 41 years has spread during the Southern Hemisphere's winter over the past few months, the leaders of Canada, Mexico and the United States are vowing to combat the virus. According to infectious disease experts, the virus could attack with a vengeance when the flu season begins in just a few months.
However, the southern hemisphere, which is experiencing its winter months, is seeing the impact.
Mike Fietje is with Kids Alive International Peru says the Peruvian schools usually take a 1-2 week break at the end of July, but the government has made it a mandatory 3-week break to try and stop the spread of H1N1. The government has threatened to jail any directors who go against the school ban (which includes Care Center type programs).
Kids Alive has two children's homes and a children's care program in Peru. He says their after-school program shut down. While their children's homes stayed open, the care center was closed, creating other problems. Fietje says, "We provide breakfast for the kids and also a good lunch, Monday through Friday. But because we had to close for the last few weeks, they didn't get much nutritional value in these few weeks."
It also affected the women they're serving. "A lot of the moms are single moms. And they weren't able to work the last few weeks because they weren't able to drop their kids off at the care center. So a lot of them were really affected."
While the kids in the children's homes hear the Gospel every day, the care center gives Kids Alive more opportunities to share Christ, though not just with the kids. They're reaching out to the mothers through their Moms helping Moms program. "We have discipleship with them Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Then, we also have training in jewelry making and sewing during the other days. We also have parenting classes for them," says Fietje.
While none of the Kids Alive team or students have contracted the HiN1 virus, many are concerned. The virus usually affects the poor and malnourished most. That mean financial help is needed. "With the economic crisis it's really affected both of our ministries. We really desperately need more children sponsors for both the home and the care center."
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