USEA (United States Embassy Association) is a non profit organization that raises money through an art show and provides the funds to various organizations in the Lima area. I have become involved with the subcommittee that is visiting and evaluating organizations that have submitted grant applications to receive financial support from these funds. It is truly a privilege to be a part of this group and humbling to see the vast need for support. Thus far I have visited:
1. A home similar to the Ronald McDonald house that can handle 40 people. Parents and children share a bed and receive food while their children are treated in the local cancer hospital.
2. Last Saturday I participated in a visit to a number of libraries that are being developed in some of the poorer outlying communities. This is a picture of the kids in one of those locations.
This library is in a temporary location but is privileged in having a couple of computers. It was an amazing sight to see, in the midst of substantial poverty, a girl working on a Microsoft Word document on a PC. The world is flat and full of contradictions and improvements brought by generous donors and persistent staff and volunteers.
3. A shelter for abused girls in a village outside of Lima. The Caritas Felices organization is run by a Franciscan sister with some, though inadequate, support from the federal government. They take in girls from all over the country from age 2 to 18 who have been sexually abused and need a safe place with beds, food, counseling and safety. The need for stability and love was apparent but in the midst of what must be terrible pain there was laughter and games and music.
And finally, I connected with some Sisters of Mercy from Sydney, Australia at an art fair. They run The Women's House Catalina McAuley here in Lima as well at the Mother of Mercy Women's House to help very economically poor women to help develop small businesses to better sustain them economically and with dignity. I look forward to heading out their way at some point and visiting the houses.