Peru protest kills and stymies kids ministry

By June 10, 2009

Peru (MNN) — More than 2,500 tribal people clashed with Peruvian soldier killing dozens affecting the work of Compassion International. The uprising began last week in the northeastern part of the country over the government's plan to open indigenous areas for gas and oil exploration. Unfortunately, many of these areas are considered ancestral lands by those who live there.

According to reports, more than 30 protesters and 24 police officers are confirmed dead. However the indigenous people have been accused of hiding bodies, and the death toll could be even higher. The Peruvian government has imposed a curfew.

Kathy Redmond with Compassion International says the indigenous protests are causing problems. "They're destroying some gas pipelines. They're protesting in the streets. They're not allowing cars to go by, and the unfortunate thing is that it's making it very difficult to get access to food, water and basic and living supplies."

According to Redmond, it's affecting their work. "We have quite a few child development centers in the region, and unfortunately many of them are not functioning because of security reasons. Some of the tribal Indians have taken guns, and because the police are there with their guns, stray bullets are common. What we're going to do is to keep our children at home and away from anything outside where they might get hurt."

More than seven centers may be affected. Redmond says there are concerns that the violence could spread to other parts of the country. So far, none of their sponsored children have been hurt. Redmond says, "Although they haven't been physically hit by a stray bullet or anything like that, it's still something very traumatic for them to have to deal with and to go through, and we don't know yet if any of the children's parents are involved."

Compassion is asking sponsors not to panic about the unrest in the region. If your child is affected by any of the violence, you will receive a telephone call.

In the meantime, Redmond says they need more people to sponsor kids in the region. "Poverty doesn't really rest. In a lot of these countries, you have issues of continuing poverty, and in this economic climate, of course, you have people who weren't in desperation but who now are. Even in our bad economy, around the world the poor are feeling it ten times as bad."

It's out of this desperation, says Redmond, that entire families are responding to the Gospel. "Poverty basically tells you that you're worth nothing, nobody loves you, and nobody cares. When you're introduced to a very loving God who sent His Son to die for you, that changes."

If you'd like to sponsor a child in Peru or other places around the world, click here.

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