Sponsorship gives new life to family and community in poverty

In an urban slum in Peru, World Vision’s work is restoring hope for the families who live there, including Arnila and her children, who are sponsored. This mom went to beauty school with World Vision’s support and now runs her own salon.

Story and photos by Abby Stalsbroten, World Vision U.S.
Published May 8, 2013 at 12:00am PDT

Clean houses lit with electricity line the streets of Yanama, a suburb in Peru. But it hides a major problem for people living here: There is no running water. Residents hike a few blocks to an open stream, dip plastic jugs into the water, and load up wheelbarrows to haul it home.

“It’s hard work,” says single mom Arnila Moya Chucon, 30. She steers her wheelbarrow home over the dusty gravel road, boils the water, and treats it before offering it to her three children.

Yanama, like many communities on the outskirts of the main city, Ayacucho, sprang up in the 1980s and 1990s when mountain farmers fled the violent occupation of the Shining Path terrorist group.

The sudden crush of people created urban slums flush with disease, violence, illiteracy, and poverty.

In for the long haul

World Vision began to work here just five years ago, at the community’s request. The first priority was addressing basic needs, like providing Arnila a container with which to carry her water. In the lifecycle of World Vision’s long-term work, more sustainable solutions will continue to develop.

Slowly, after years of deep poverty, new life is coming to Arnila’s neighborhood and family. Her three children — Judith, Joseph, and Anais — are all sponsored. Judith, 10, gets letters from her sponsor, an American child who is also 10 years old.

Being a single mom in such a poor community is hard for Arnila.

“I consider myself mother and father to my kids,” she says. She and her husband separated, and he lives far away. He helps to pay for the children’s education, but it’s still hard for Arnila to make ends meet.

Opening new horizons

Upon arriving in Yanama, World Vision conducted workshops on hygiene, nutrition, and agriculture. “They changed our lives through workshops,” says Arnila.

In fact, her two oldest children were often sick before she attended the nutrition workshop. Once she learned how to prepare good food for them, they regained their health quickly. And little Anais, 4, has always been healthy because of the knowledge her mom gained before she was born.

Arnila loved the workshops so much that she’s now a World Vision volunteer in her own community. She helps with sponsorship work, delivering letters to children and helping them write responses to their sponsors in the United States.

Arnila and other moms also participated in a workshop where they learned how to knit stuffed animals. She sells these cuddly animals for $5 each, earning around $50 per month for her family.

A new profession

But the biggest hand up came when World Vision sent Arnila to a beauty school down the hill in Ayacucho. She studied for three years, graduating in 2012.

World Vision provided some equipment for Arnila to open a salon in her home, cutting and styling hair. This helps her earn an additional $100 every month for her family. Between the salon, sponsorship volunteering, and knitting, Arnila keeps busy.

“When there are no customers here, I am always sewing,” she says.

‘I trust World Vision’

Outside, at the back of her home, Arnila proudly shows a new concrete latrine, installed just this year. There’s a World Vision sticker right on the door. Arnila is proud of this clean, private space. Before, they only had a hole in the ground.

Arnila also has a spacious garden in her backyard, where green shoots are just beginning to sprout. Here she grows vegetables to feed her children with seeds provided by World Vision.

When World Vision first came to Yanama, Arnila and other parents were suspicious. They had heard rumors that their children would be kidnapped and sent to the United States.

“I was afraid at first,” says Arnila, “but now, I am happy.”

After she went to the trainings, she was so impressed that she started spreading the word that World Vision was working to help children. She even helped some kids find sponsors of their own.

“Now, I trust World Vision,” she says with a smile.

Two ways you can help

Please pray for the community of Yanama in Peru — that its families would continue to experience new opportunities to escape poverty and realize their God-given potential.

Sponsor a child in Peru today. Besides helping to provide life-giving basics like nutritious food, clean water, medical care, and education for an entire community, you’ll have a chance to build a special relationship with a boy or girl who will know your name and benefit from your prayers and support.