Peru (MNN) – Compassion International is devoted to helping children around the world escape all forms of poverty. To do this, they believe a holistic approach is needed. Normally, this involves child development programs adjusted to the particular needs of an area. But sometimes disaster strikes, and when it does, Compassion’s network allows them to react quickly in order to make sure the children in the program are safe, and their families cared for.
Adrian Quevedo of Compassion recently spoke to us through a translator, sharing his story of one such disaster in Peru. By late March of 2017, Peru had received 10 times its normal amount of rain. This caused widespread flooding and mudslides. According to Compassion, at least 94 people were killed and 700,000 people lost their homes.
One of the regions hit was Pedregal Grande in Piura where Compassion is active and, at that time, served 240 sponsored children.
Emergency Response on the Mission Field
Quevedo says, “On March 27 of last year, I received a call from Pedregal Grande. One of the volunteer staff from the survival program called me and she informed me that the river had overflowed and it had drowned all the community in Pedregal Grande.”
Quevedo alerted their headquarters in Lima, spoke to a local project director to get more information, and then Compassion workers began the first aid rescue process as they organized response teams.
“We had lots of difficulties to reach that area because it was very risky due to the flooding. The flooding did not only occur in Pedregal Grande but also all around Piura,” Quevedo says.
A lot of the communication happened through social media, and it allowed the rescue teams to get up-to-date information on the children and their families who still needed rescuing.
“The following day we continued helping the children and we received calls all night long from the project staff and the volunteers because their lives were at risk,” Quevedo says.
“Actually, the river flooded the entire houses—all the first floors were flooded and the children and their families, they were on the top of the houses, on the roof. And their lives were at risk because if river’s flow volume was going to increase, then something could happen to them.”
Because there were several surrounding communities also affected by the flooding, the government was unable to respond immediately to the situation in Pedregal Grande. In fact, Quevedo says, “No one knew that Pedregal was also affected by the flooding.”
Not only that, but there weren’t enough resources to go around to help everyone who was in need. So, for the time being, Compassion had to work on their own. But by 3 pm on March 28th, they were able to rescue all of the children, their families, and the staff who had been trapped on their roofs.
“We were not only able to help our own sponsor children, but we also helped the people in the same community with the support of volunteers from other churches.”
After three days, they were able to confirm that all of the children in their programs were safe.
Following the rescue efforts, Compassion coordinated with their head office to get medication, food, water, and clothes for the children and their families. These items were made possible through gifts made to Compassion’s Disaster Relief Fund.
Over the next several days, the team would have to overcome several challenges, including closed roads that made it difficult for aid to be delivered and for medical help to arrive.
Even after they were able to help the people in Pedregal Grande, Quevedo says they were concerned about isolated communities in the highlands of Piura. The Villa Batanes en Chulucanas was surrounded by the river water, Quevedo says. They knew of another church in San Miguel de Faique, located four hours from the city. Here too, the government was not enabled to respond immediately.
“In this place, there were two rivers and three gorges that were closing all the roads to get to this program. Now in this specific area in the highlands, the heavy rains started in January. We had a contact that worked for the air force in Pedregal Grande and he helped us to rescue the children there.”
Altogether, they were able to transport three tons of food to the people stranded in the highlands.
In Jesus’ Name
Everything Compassion does, even in the midst of disaster, is done in the name of Jesus. Because of this, their work has had an impact on people not only physically and financially, but spiritually as well.
Quevedo explains, “Actually this natural disaster became an opportunity for many churches and for our own projects. People received help through our local churches. And, those same people in the community, they started to put their trust in the pastors and the volunteer staff. Now it has been a great opportunity for people to get closer to the churches so they can know more about Jesus so they can have a personal encounter and a personal relationship with Him.”
But the staff at Compassion was also stretched in their faith through this difficult time.
“This experience has taught us that we need to trust in the Lord despite all the challenges that might come our way. We have seen God’s hand throughout the whole situation. He has lifted us up, and also the communities as well.”
The Rebuilding process continues
Even over a year later, the recovery process is ongoing. Compassion has been able to help most of the families get housing again. However, they still need financial support to rebuild some of the classrooms.
“We are very grateful to God because we have been able to help many projects. But we still have other projects to continue helping,” Quevedo says.
Will you pray for God to provide the resources? And also, keep the affected families in your prayers, as well.
“’Now when people are interviewed about the situation and how they feel now, they start crying. They really have a deep pain in their hearts because they lost all their belongings. They lost everything they had. And even though we are now helping them to recover, it’s still hard for them.”
If you’d like to partner with Compassion, consider giving to their Disaster Relief Fund, here. This will help the ministry respond quickly to the disasters that take place near their operations around the world.