The team has had a good first couple of days here in Lima, Peru. This year our team consists of 5 members: Michelle Adams, Kathy Kooyenga, Daniel Kooyenga, Ethan Kooyenga and Jenna Hania. When we arrived in Peru we were greeted warmly by our FH teams coordinator, Pilar. We got straight to work on Tuesday morning by leading a workshop with FH Staff in which we presented “5 Stages: The Journey of Disability Attitudes.
The 5 stages were received very well. FH Staff commented that they would like to take greater time to understand the stages and even use it in the communities they work in! Additionally, during the presentation we shared about the increased potential of violence and discrimination that people with disabilities face. FH Peru is focused on ending violence among youth and families in their community, so it was very important to connect issues of disability with their current focus.
After the training we went to the community of Los Cipreses located in the district of San Juan de Lurigancho. We were welcomed by the children and treated with a short welcome ceremony. Every year this is such a great time to see the youth share their gifts and interests and to invite us to play games and dance with them!
After the ceremony we spent some time with adolescent leaders in the community who are working very hard alongside FH to promote some of the anti-violence initiatives and provide support for trainings in the community. These youth are inspiring. Over the last four years I have not seen people so engaged and focused on the well-being of their community as I have see through these youth. Furthermore, one boy who has some significant communicative disabilities and who – in previous years – was not accepted by many in the community, was helping to lead activities and was being encouraged by some of his peers in a very positive way–his behavior has also change a great deal since our last visit! Praise God!
On Day 2, our team started by handing out school supplies to the children in 10 de Marzo school in Los Cipreses. Daniel Kooyenga, a former Elim student, was able to hand out every HOPE Pack to the children. Kathy, Daniel’s mother, was brought to tears as she was reminded of how Daniel has been ‘blessed to be a blessing.’ This was a significant moment for her, to see her son making an impact on the children in this community.
The rest of the day consisted of home visits, reconnecting with some families we have seen over the past few years. But also, it is the heart of our small team this year to share the Gospel and find ways in which the members of the community can become more engaged in reading the Bible. There have been some great openings to do this! We have heard, with great excitement, that there is even a church that has opened in the community recently–what a blessing!
Keep praying for us over the next couple of days as we support FH Peru in their community workshops. Blessings!
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