Ministry Highlight: Peru

Compassion began its ministry in Peru in 1985 with the Child Sponsorship Program. In 2003, both the Child Survival Program and the Leadership Development program began.

view of town with mountains in the background

Due to the extreme poverty of many Peruvian children, the Triennial Health Program launched in 1988. Focusing on disease prevention, our Peru ministry leaders hired a physician and two social workers to conduct training workshops at the Implementing Church Partners for all of our staff.

These workshops taught staff members how to identify common disease symptoms and prevent common diseases with good health habits. Out of this program, the Children’s Health Patrol began.

Children’s Health Patrol trained children to detect disease symptoms among their peers, then report any symptoms to church partner staff. This program was eventually implemented in other countries where we work.

Country Director

Cristina Zavala joined Compassion Peru as a Sponsor and Donor Ministry Coordinator in 1999 and later became the Sponsor and Donor Ministry Manager. She was appointed Country Director in 2005.

smiling woman wearing glasses

Before coming to Compassion, Cristina worked in secretarial positions at several companies including the Alliance Bible Institute. During her university years, Cristina organized evangelism programs and volunteered as a spiritual counselor.

Cristina holds a master’s degree in management administration; she also completed additional courses in theology and pastoral ministry while working at the Alliance Bible Institute. She is part of the pastoral team at her church and serves on the church board.

Implementing Church Partners

Implementing Church Partners are local churches in Peru with whom we work to deliver child development and ministry in the field.

    • Spiritual Climate
      Evangelical Christians account for approximately 15 percent of the population. Evangelicals are experiencing slow and continuous growth, and as a result, Christianity is reaching some of the most remote areas of Peru. Evangelicals are also increasing their influence in society.
    • Unique Challenges
      One challenge unique to Implementing Church Partners in Peru involves fitting time for the child development program into a child’s schedule.Government schools in Peru have now implemented extracurricular workshops twice a week in the afternoons, which makes it difficult for children enrolled in the child sponsorship program to attend their development centers.

      Another challenge stems from the fact that Peru has three completely different geographical regions with vastly different cultures, ways of living, educational levels and social contexts. The three regions include the coastal area, the Andes mountain region and the Amazon rainforest.

      Our programs are designed more for urban and coastal areas, but we have recently increased the number of Implementing Church Partners in the Andes and the Amazon. The challenge comes from adapting our programs to fit with their strategies and methodologies.

    • Contributions
      Implementing Church Partners provide the child development center facilities with electricity and water, furniture, equipment, Bible curriculum, biblical training for the staff and church leadership, as well as transportation costs for the pastor, committee and staff when a ministry activity is held outside of the church.Some Implementing Church Partners collect an offering for child development center staff members who volunteer their time.
    • Church-to-Church
      There are no formal church-to-church partnerships between Implementing Church Partners and sponsoring churches. Some denominations in Peru do have an association of churches located in the same region of the country.These churches sometimes help each other with needs such as repairing and enhancing church buildings.
church building
  • Partner Development Activities
    Our ministry in Peru develops partners through training in doctrine, evangelistic campaigns with outside speakers, regional meetings to encourage evangelism, and informational activities.

Child Survival Program

    • Caregiver Literacy
      If there is a caregiver who is illiterate, the Implementing Church Partners register that caregiver in a government literacy program. The government program provides educational materials free of charge to any person who needs to learn to read and write. There are no literacy programs within the Child Survival Program.
    • Income-Generating Skills
      Every two months, mothers participate in income-generating classes, such as making jewelry, knitting sweaters and purses, and baking chocolate candies. The mothers usually display their products at their town festivals.
    • Health Care
      Caregivers are encouraged to access free health care available at nearby hospitals and first aid centers as well as the free health insurance offered by the government for all people living in poverty. Child Survival Program staff members educate caregivers about available services as well as the registration process in order to obtain health insurance.Insurance does require certain documents, and in some cases, the Implementing Church Partner provides financial assistance necessary to process those documents.

      Prenatal care, labor and delivery including c-sections, vaccinations, some medical checkups and care for all children under the age of 5 are covered by government health insurance.

      woman wearing rubber gloves working with woman and small girl

      In certain circumstances, such as the breakdown of medical equipment or lack of medications at the government hospital, Implementing Church Partners cover the cost for beneficiaries to go elsewhere.

      In addition, all children registered in the Child Survival Program receive a medical checkup twice a year, and caregivers receive a checkup once a year. Implementing Church Partners have arrangements with the local hospitals for these checkups.

    • Nutritional Support
      Once a month, each caregiver receives a bag of groceries which includes dry beans, rice, noodles, evaporated milk, tuna, cooking oil, eggs, sugar and oats.Some Implementing Church Partners coordinate with local soup kitchens so needy families can receive a meal there. And they register needy families in a government program that provides milk for all the children in a family.
group of women packing bags of groceries
  • Involvement of Fathers
    Fathers are encouraged to work with the mothers in their child’s early stimulation program. Some Implementing Church Partners have programs for Child Survival Program parents that include lectures on topics of interest as well as counseling for couples.
  • Transitioning out of the Child Survival Program
    We begin to prepare children and caregivers to transition out of Child Survival Program and into the Child Sponsorship Program six months prior to the actual transition.First, mothers are informed of the possibility that their children could be registered for the Child Sponsorship Program. The Child Sponsorship Program director explains the benefits and activities of the program and describes the new responsibilities the mother will have.

    Next, we put small groups of the children into a classroom prepared especially for them. This allows them to begin to feel comfortable in new surroundings and start to gain independence from their caregivers. After this we register eligible children for the Child Sponsorship Program.

  • Areas of Expansion for the Child Survival Program
    We plan to expand into the northern region of Peru, because according to government statistics and UNICEF, this region has a high percentage of poverty and the most vulnerable population of children under age 5.

Child Development Through Sponsorship

Your sponsorship of a child in Peru provides a variety of benefits.

Peruvian schools offer a morning schedule from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and an afternoon schedule from 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Children generally attend the child development center either in the morning or the afternoon, whenever they are not in school. However, some Implementing Church Partners hold activities on Saturdays so children can more fully enjoy their time at the development center and have more energy to participate.

    • Meeting Times:
      • 3 to 5 year olds: 3 to 4 hours a day, 3 days a week, or on Saturdays
      • 6 to 8 year olds: 2 to 4 hours a day, 3 days a week, or on Saturdays
      • 9 to 11 year olds: 2 to 4 hours a day, 3 days a week, or on Saturdays
      • 12 to 14 year olds: 3 hours a day, 2 days a week, or on Saturdays
      • 15 to 18 year olds: 3 hours a day, 2 days a week, or on Saturdays
    • Nutritional Support
      Each child receives a meal at the child development center three times a week. A typical meal consists of vegetables, meat stew with beans and rice, fruit and dessert; it is made by cooks trained to prepare nutritious meals.We provide this food because government schools do not provide meals or snacks, and many children do not receive well-balanced meals at home.
group of children enjoying a meal
  • Vaccinations
    The government provides free vaccinations for children. If  important vaccines are not offered free of charge by the government, the ministry in Peru will contract with a nonprofit private organization to ensure children are vaccinated.
  • Extracurricular Activities or Community Service
    Children participate in an extracurricular activity or community service every month. Some of the activities include camping, field trips to museums or factories, talent shows and helping at the child development centers.
  • Vocational Activities
    We offer vocational activities that will complement the students’ formal studies at school. In Peru, if a student does not complete high school and only completes vocational training, he will have difficulty finding employment because of his lack of skills.Even if he desires to become a technician in his chosen area of interest, he must still complete high school. Because of this, it is our goal to see every student finish high school.

    Each Implementing Church Partner provides activities that cover four areas of development: spiritual, cognitive, socio-emotional and physical. As part of the cognitive development, adolescents have the opportunity to participate in one or two vocational training areas.

    One of those trainings is offered weekly at the Implementing Church Partner under the direction of a technician or a sponsored teenager who has been formally trained at technical school. Among the most popular skills to learn are silk screening, jewelry making, baking, chocolate candy preparation and buffet preparation. The other training is held at a technical school.

    group of young people learning a vocation

    Some child development centers have an agreement with a well-known technical school where the students study basic electric work, motor skills, computer programming, pastry baking and buffet preparation and presentation. A larger technical training program is offered to students 12 years and older.

    Students are able to choose from a variety of technical careers and will be specifically trained in that one skill. Upon completion, they will be qualified workers and will receive a technical completion certificate. The hope is that these graduated teenagers will be better equipped to find good jobs after high school.

  • Parent Involvement
    There are monthly parents’ meetings as well as scheduled activities such as Bible meditation, program information meetings, and local church activities. Parents are also invited to join in special celebrations such as Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Christmas, Holy Week and church anniversary celebrations.Some Implementing Church Partners plan recreational activities where parents and children can participate together. These are events such as sports tournaments and special parties. Parents are also involved with their local Implementing Church Partners through home visits, Bible studies and discipleship programs.
  • Areas of Expansion
    We plan to expand toward the central and eastern areas of Peru due to the high level of poverty, prevalence of diseases affecting children, families that lack Christian values and the need to increase Evangelical churches in these areas.

Leadership Development Program

    • Universities Attended
      Leadership Development Program students attend government and private universities as well as an evangelical seminary.
    • Location of Universities
      Most universities are located in the capital city of Lima. However, there are a few that are spread throughout the country in populated cities.
    • Working Students
      The majority of students do not work while attending university. Students who are approaching graduation will often look for part-time work so that they can fulfill the required practice for the career they are pursuing. It is also common for students to work during summer months to earn additional income.All of the students’ families have economic needs, so it is frustrating for them to not be able to contribute financially to help support their family.
    • Service Opportunities
      Our ministry in Peru requests that local pastors assist students in engaging in service opportunities at their churches. Students serve as teachers for children and teenagers, youth leaders, project tutors, Bible study leaders and worship team participants.They are also encouraged to be leaders at their universities by serving as class delegates and student representatives.

      The Leadership Development Program organizes annual community service activities in which the students are encouraged to participate. Also, we give students the opportunity to serve in their specific career fields.

      young person sitting in chair smiling

      For example, those who are studying medicine, can volunteer with Child Survival and Child Sponsorship health campaigns, and sociology students can do social work and administer surveys to gain information needed for the country office.

      These experiences help students enhance their knowledge and increase their level of responsibility, engagement and service.

    • Leadership Development Program Meetings
      The students meet in smaller groups on a monthly basis for Bible study, mentoring and recreational activities. The larger Leadership Development Program group meets quarterly; one meeting is held on the Worldwide Leadership Development Program Prayer Day and one is held just prior to graduation ceremony.The Leadership Development Program curriculum is covered during each of the larger gatherings.
group of young people in a classroom
  • Specialty Curriculum Topics or Resources
    We hold special events where we cover additional topics such as “The Pact of Sanctity” and “Relationship with Parents.” We arrange for people who specialize in each topic to teach the students.
  • Mentors
    When a student applies for a Leadership Development Program scholarship, corresponding pastors are made aware that those applicants must have a mentor if they are accepted into the program. Once the applicant is admitted, our ministry coordinates with the pastor, the applicant and his parents to find a mentor.Once the Leadership Development Program Specialist is given at least two names from the student’s pastor, he learns more about each candidate and then chooses a mentor that best suits the student’s needs and preferences.

Complementary Interventions

Our core child sponsorship program, while comprehensive, does not address all obstacles to a child’s healthy development. The Complementary Interventions program was created to work with our holistic child development model to provide additional services, such as our AIDS Initiative, Bibles for all children, disaster relief and water projects.

Each child development center is informed of the Complementary Interventions benefits available, such as medical reimbursement, educational reimbursement or disaster relief.

Depending on the need and the level of urgency, the Implementing Church Partner will assess the situation and, in the case of an emergency, will provide the necessary assistance. A staff member then sends the required help through a Complementary Intervention program.

Common Complementary Interventions requests are for income-generating skills such as baking, pastry-making and buffet preparation. Water tanks are requested for the northern coast of Peru because there is a lack of water, and classroom repair is requested for the Andes region due to damage from heavy rains.

Highly Vulnerable Children

The primary Highly Vulnerable Children needs and corresponding strategies in Peru are:

    • Psychologically and Sexually Abused Children
      We require each child development center worker to sign a “letter of engagement” that states their commitment to protect the children at the center from any abuse from staff.
    • Children in High-Risk Areas
      This includes those children who are often home alone because their parents work elsewhere, those who live at the edge of a steep riverbank or on a steep hill with loose rocks and stones, and those who live in houses built with precarious materials and no sanitary facilities which makes them more susceptible to diseases, such as diarrhea and respiratory infections.two babies

      Each Implementing Church Partner coordinates with church members to assist these families by providing materials to make their homes safer.

      Most Implementing Church Partners do not have an adequate number of members with sufficient economic resources to offer much help. This is why Highly Vulnerable Children funds are necessary.

    • Children Living in an Inadequate Family Environment
      Many children live with relatives rather than their mother or father; these children are vulnerable to being abused by their relatives. We plan to work more closely with parents of these children to educate them about child abuse prevention and to encourage active participation in the church.


7 Comments |Add a comment

  1. mercedes Rocío October 28, 2011

    Hola soy docente de Secundaria,y quería saber como puedo apoyar esta obra tan maravillosa y realmente de mucha compasión.Felicito a todos los hermanos que trabajan arduamente por estos niños.Un saludo especial a Cristina mi amada hermana de la ex J.U.C. de ACYM Pueblo Libre.El SEÑOR los Bendiga!!

  2. Debbi Akers September 4, 2011

    I just wanted to agree with what Donna and Jill have already said. It is extremely beneficial to have such an in depth and specific look into the ministry in Peru (and other countries with these ministry highlights). As an advocate, these blogs are such a powerful way to “connect” the community of sponsors at our churches. All I have to do now is forward this blog, along with a note, to all of those sponsors in my church that are connected to Peru. What a gift to be able to share with them (if they are not already reading the blog.).

    Again, thank you sooo much!!
    Debbi Akers
    Huntsville, Alabama

  3. interpret the bible September 3, 2011

    Helping those that need it is always going to be of great benefit, keep the good works going

  4. Mike Stephens September 2, 2011

    Peru is the last country I need to visit with Compassion so I can make good on promising to visit all my sponsor kids! Hopefully in the next year or so!!!!!!!!!!!! Yesus Atosha!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Donna Price September 2, 2011

    I get alot out of Compassion’s series “Ministry Hightlight”. The depth and breath of what is going on in each country gives one a better sense of that countries program. In addition, they have a format that makes it easy to compare and contrast the variation of Compassions program country to country. I look forward to reading about each country.

    1. Jacquie Parella September 2, 2011

      I really appreciate that feedback Donna. It’s good to know how much you are getting out of them. We plan on publishing ministry highlights for each Compassion country!

  6. Jill Foley – Compassion Family September 2, 2011

    I love this….not only because I’ve been to Peru, but it really gives us a detailed look into exactly how Compassion is implementing their ministry in this country.

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