Week upon week the rain came down in Peru. The rivers spilled over. The floodwaters rose. There was no power and no running water. Around 700,000 people lost their homes. Ninety-four people lost their lives.
“I was very scared because the water grew very fast. I took nine children with me and their moms. We don’t know how to swim, so we climbed on the roofs, saving our children first. It was a desperate moment because the help didn’t arrive and our children were crying. But I never lost my hope because my Almighty God is faithful and I knew He would come to rescue us.”
These are the words of Noemi. She’s a Compassion tutor at Casa de Oración Child Development Center (PE0585) located in Pedregal Grande, a district of Piura, Peru.
On Monday, March 27, as the flooding in Peru began to accelerate, thousands of people in Pedregal Grande took to their roofs.
Noemi and her fellow Compassion tutor, Lili, were conducting home-based classes with mothers of children in our program when the waters began to rise. Like the rest of the community, Noemi and Lili helped 14 children and their mothers retreat to the roofs of the homes to seek safety.
And there they stayed for more than 12 hours. With the water level near the rooftop, rescue wasn’t coming any time soon.
It wasn’t until early the next morning when the water began to recede.
It was then that three brave men from a neighbor church and Compassion Partnership Facilitator Adrian Quevedo created a makeshift boat with large oil bottles and wood. They used this homemade lifeboat to rescue Noemi and the children from their roof as well as others in the community.
Eventually the water level was low enough for people to come down from their roofs to wade through the water to safety. Rescue teams from the government arrived to help.
Thankfully, all the Compassion-assisted children, staff, church pastors and their families in Pedregal Grande were successfully evacuated and taken to safety.
They are reunited and healthy.
Noemi’s hope was affirmed as she rejoiced in their rescue with the other mothers. But while they rejoiced over their safety, many had to face the stark reality that they may not have a home to go back to. Those in the area lost 80 percent of their belongings and homes.
The whole community has temporarily moved. Once it’s safe to return they will have to rebuild the whole community or relocate to a new place.
And those in the Pedregal Grande aren’t the only ones.
So far, 64 of our church partners and 2,012 children and students in the Compassion family have been affected.
Students like Yahayra.
Yahayra lives with her two brothers and mom in the community of Chiclayito in Piura. She, like so many others, used to live in a house made of adobe.
Then the water ravaged her home. Where she once had a floor, she now has puddles. Where she once had a roof, she now has a view of the sky.
When part of the roof fell, the family lost their kitchen, furniture, beds and some clothes. The home is destroyed. And with dengue fever beginning to surface in the community, they need to stay away.
“I feel very sad because we have always lived here and seeing my house destroyed, my bedroom, my bed destroyed, it breaks my heart but we must go on,” says Yahayra. “We can’t do anything now. I love my family and I prefer having my family safe. Thank God, we have a place to be safe for the moment and that’s my project.”
Our church partner, Nazarene Church of Chiclayito (PE331), has opened their doors to shelter affected families. This is where Yahayra and her family are staying.
It’s there that they are taken care of until the weather gets better. It’s there that they will live with other families until they can rebuild their homes with stronger materials.
Yahayra’s mom says,
“Our lives are more important than material things. Their health is my priority and I am thankful to the church for their support in this difficult time. We can’t work right now as the whole city is affected, but we are surviving with God’s favor and grace.”
One of the reasons Noemi and Yahayra have hope in the midst of this disaster is because God uses His Church to care for one another. As part of the Compassion family, they know they will always have someone in their corner to lift them up.
Compassion families in Peru need emotional and physical support. And Compassion Peru is there to do everything possible to help.
But they can’t do it without you…
As part of our Compassion family will you help lift them up today?
- Pray for continued safety for those in temporary housing and for the truck drivers driving on damaged roads to deliver relief goods.
- Pray for the health of those in affected areas and for safety from dengue fever.
- Pray for the Peru staff who continue to give their time and talents even while they deal with damage to their own homes and churches.
As part of our Compassion family will you help support them today?
When you give to the Disaster Relief Fund, the children and their families affected by the flooding in Peru will:
- Receive food, mosquito nets, water, medicine, clothing and plastic to cover their homes
- Have access to water pumps to help remove water from homes and buildings
- Learn about dengue fever prevention
There is still a lot of work to do. It is hard and painful work. And it will take time. But when God brings His family together in times of struggle, there is always hope.
Photos and stories by Betsy Grandez, Peru Field Communications Specialist, and Adrian Quevedo, Peru Partnership Facilitator
UPDATE: A previous version of this blog post stated incorrectly that 98 churches were affected. It has been corrected to 64 total churches.