With this news message from Cusco, Peru, we would like to let you know how we are doing, how the situation is in Cusco and how the organisation is dealing with Covid-19.
Here in Peru we have been in social quarantine for more than three weeks now, since March 15 there is a complete lockdown. This means that we may not leave the house, just to buy food or medicines. A curfew was also invoked from six o’clock in the evening. Since today, April 3, we can also only do staggered shopping. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday only the men can go out and on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday the women. Everything will be closed on Sunday and we will not be allowed to leave the house. The measures are quite strict here, but this is better this way and hopefully it will help limiting the spread of the virus. Today there are 1595 cases of contamination in Peru, in the entire region of Cusco there are 55. Here in Cusco everything is quite quiet and people follow up the precautions and lockdown well, unlike the capital Lima with its more than 10 million inhabitants. There are also mouth masks available everywhere and these must be used when we go shopping or go to the bank. The post and public transport have come to a complete standstill. You can therefore no longer move within Peru and the national borders are also closed.
Unfortunately, since everything has come to a standstill and the schools have closed, we have had to close the project as well for the time being. We said goodbye to all children and families for a while and gave them as much advice as possible about the importance of washing hands, keeping distance and other important precautions. At the moment we keep in touch as much as possible with the families involved in the project, but many families do not have a mobile phone.
We realize that the virus will have an impact for a long time to come, not only on a health level, but also economically. For many people in Peru and especially the families living in poverty, as well as the families of the project, this quarantine will bring even more difficult times because the little income they have now disappears during the quarantine. After all, most mothers sell on the street or near the market with a small stall and this can no longer continue. Peru as a country does not have the greatest economic resources, but the Peruvian government has made an amount available to deal with this situation for the time being to provide financial assistance to the most needy families or persons during these difficult times.
At this time, quarantine has been extended to April 12. As a project, we will also do everything possible to continue to support the families and children as well as possible and we hope that everything will be resolved soon, so that we can start again with the daily activities of the project. Together with our partners, we try to do everything possible to ensure that the children can keep up with their schoolwork and education and we try to find extra support to organize us or to offer solutions. As a project, we have already developed a protocol with prevention and safety measures for when we can reopen.
Other very unfortunate news is that during these months there were also several students from different university colleges in Belgium doing an internship in the project. It was a wonderful group of 7 passionate students, who were fully committed and participated in the daily project work and other matters related to their internship. They did not want to return to Belgium yet and were still hoping to continue their internship in one way or another. In the meantime, they have been repatriated by the good organization of the Belgian embassy and they left a few days ago with a heavy heart.
We know these are difficult times. COVID-19 is a threat to our health, to the health of our communities and to the sustainability of organizations. But we must remain strong and take up this challenge together.
We hope that everything is good with you and we wish you the very best.
Take care a lot and keep it safe and healthy!
Lots of love from all of us from Peru,
the Añañau team