The COVID-19 pandemic has gone around the world and has now reached Latin America where hundreds of thousands of people are in potential danger. At the moment, when we are celebrating the fifth anniversary of Laudato Si, the protection of creation and saving lives has become a priority. In Peru, a country already affected by economic and social crisis, the impact of the virus is another blow for the poorest.

Even though the president introduced a lockdown in mid-March, when there were fewer than 100 recorded cases, Peru currently has the world’s second-highest per capita rate of new infections of COVID-19 per day. It currently has the second-highest death rate in Latin America after Brazil.

Staying at home has been a key strategy for many countries in slowing the spread of the virus. But for poor Peruvians, around 70 percent of whom work in the informal sector and don’t have access to basic healthcare or social safety nets, this is not an option. leaving the house is the only option to get food and to survive.

On May 22nd, the epicenter of COVID19 in Peru was in the Piura region, north of Peru “The hospital system has collapsed…These are desperate and distressing moments, people need oxygen and there is none. Today there are no longer drugs in the pharmacies, and people urgently need them,” says Monsignor Daniel Turley Murphy, OSA of the Diocese of Chulucanas.

This is the cry of alarm of a local Church. We need to act and be agile to bring support before it is too late. We must, as Pope Francis said, now “open our hearts to hope”. How can we, in our capacity, dream of the unimaginable, and help those suffering in Latin America through a moment of trial and tribulation? They need our solidarity, they need your solidarity and joining our hands, we have to be a sign of hope and this is possible only if we have open hearts.

Caritas Peru has launched a campaign “Ayúdanos a ayudar” (“Help us to help”). Already on the front line, braving all dangers and difficulties, going to hard to reach places, Caritas Peru has already distributed aid to indigenous communities suffering from poverty, injustice, exclusion, and oppression. More than 1,600 families have been helped. Towards the end of May 2020, Caritas Peru has already helped 198,000 families nationwide but its means are very limited and is dependent on international help.
Gabriel Huata, the major of a town on the islands of Lake Titicaca, after receiving Caritas aid, pleaded “Please, we need more help.”
At a time when the fight against the Coronavirus in the poorest areas of the country has become a vital question of life and death, we can through solidarity and compassion fight against indifference and fatalism. As Pope Francis said on June 7, 2020, in his Angelus, address, “by adoring the Eucharist, where this love is present in the Sacrament. Then our heart too, little by little, will become more patient, more generous, more merciful, in imitation of the Heart of Jesus.”

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