Incarnate Word Missionaries Serving in Peru

It’s been almost four months since the newest Incarnate Word Missionaries first arrived in Chimbote, Peru, after their period of prayer and orientation in San Antonio. Lisa Uribe and Nicole Foy of WGC — an implementing partner of the CCVI missionary program — along with Sr. Martha Ann Kirk and UIW faculty, students and staff, have all been blissfully reunited with the three missionaries during our immersion trip! We wanted to take the opportunity to update everyone on these amazing young women and their service here amid some of the poorest areas of the Ancash region of Peru. 
  
Kristen Amaro serving during an eye clinic held by the UIW Rosenberg School of Optometry in Cambio Puente this weekend.

Yvonne Moynihan, from Cork, Ireland, has spent the last three months working in the I.E. Pedro Pablo AtusparÍa primary/secondary school headed by Sr. Hirayda Blacido Enríquez, the first CCVI Peruvian sister. Yvonne has identified a need for learning support among 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade primary students and is presently tutoring these children. She works closely with the school psychologist in designing lessons and interventions that best suit each child. Despite the tireless work of the part-time psychologist, Yvonne says, there is currently no comprehensive support system to help these children catch up on their studies. 

Children struggling in class are often dealing with poor stimulation in early childhood or with learning difficulties such as dyslexia. Others might have behavioral issues due to past or ongoing abuses in the home. Yvonne has noticed that teachers often feel at a loss when these abuses come to light or emerge in inappropriate ways within the classroom, since there is no effective overall reporting system to marshall protective services for children. Yvonne’s primary school work is in the mornings and in the afternoons, she enjoys leading an English Conversation class for the secondary students. 

  
Yvonne, third from standing left, participates in a bingo fundraiser for the Verbo Encarnado system’s hospice center.

Kristen has dedicated herself to hospice since her arrival in Chimbote. She works with a community care team that travels to dying patients’ homes to provide palliative care. She’s grown close with her colleagues and said the experience has drawn her close to ideas surrounding dignity and death.  

Providing home palliative care has been an experience where she has learned about the dynamics of caring for chronically, or terminally ill, patients. Her community team is composed of two nurse technicians, a psychologist, a doctor, and a pastoral collegue. Kristen said it is not just about dealing with the patients, but also about helping their families or caregivers during this difficult process. Having a well-rounded team of providers helps to ensure all aspects of the patient’s life are being taken care of. Death is a concept that she has found great wisdom in, and she said she’s gained a firm understanding of what it means to die with dignity — a basic right we all should have. Even if it’s a simple service of going once a week to bathe a patient, that is a luxury that some do not get afforded during their last days. Kristen said she feels humbled and grateful for the opportunity that the patients give her, to lay hands and truly wash of their feet. 

Kristen said that going out in the community has provided a glimpse into the different socioeconomic levels within Chimbote. The hospice was founded mainly for caring for those with little to no resources to support or care for a terminally ill person, but it has also grown to provide these services to those in the community who can afford to pay, which is helpful in sustaining the hospice. There are different cases with varying access to resources. However, each patient is treated the same, with dignity, love, and patience. The idea of palliative care in Peru is at the very beginning stages, so part of Kristen’s work also consists of education of what palliative care is and what it is that hospice provides. Many citizens in Chimbote still don’t have a concrete idea of what the hospice is for or what its mission is. This had been one of the most important aspects of her learning experience.  

  
Nicholena assists with a patient at the weekend eye clinic.

Nicholena is already in her second year of her mission serving with Women’s Global Connection’s projects in Chimbote. Last year, she worked with the Pushaq Warmi (Guiding Women) collective, which is making strides now with their fiber arts projects. They are partnered with Women’s Global Connection, as well as with Professor Michael Forrest and the UIW H-E-B School of Business, and recently have been focused on improving their product line and scaling their international sales of lovely hand-embroidered Peruvian greeting cards. 

This year, Nicholena is working with Sembrando Infancia, the healthy mother/child program of the Verbo Encarnado (Incarnate Word) health system in Chimbote that is supported by the Christus Foundation. Through WGC, Sembrando also is exploring a collaboration with UIW nutrition students and faculty member Dr. Beth Senne-Duff, who is in Chimbote with the WGC trip for the planning of the project.

Sembrando works in some of the poorest areas around Chimbote that are reminiscent of the sprawling colonias along the Texas-Mexico border. Homes there are small and made of thatched sugar cane. They frequently catch fire in an area with no running water, no electricity, and no city services such as fire departments. The results are often tragic and children are at the greatest risk. 

Nicholena provides invaluable support to their various local health and prevention projects and just completed a series of door-to-door parasite checks on children ages 6 months to 5 years. She and the team of health workers arrive for these important annual checks before dawn in people’s homes because parasites are most active in the early morning. 

On most days, Nicholena helps Sembrando perform height and weight checks for children being evaluated for malnutrition and obesity. She also participates in health fairs and community rallies. 

Please keep these amazing women in your thoughts and prayers!

– Nicole Foy, WGC

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