On Sunday here in Peru we celebrate “Children’s Day”. Children are definitely a reason to celebrate, in any country. Children were very dear to Jesus’ heart, and so should they be to our hearts as well. I often look at my own children and think of how blessed we are to have them in our lives. But another sentiment I sometimes feel, as I look at the lives of other children living among us, is a sense of injustice at why my children (and I) were chosen to live such a life of privilege with so much suffering faced by others. There is a sense here that the community and the leaders are working to uphold the rights of children and hold them in a special regard, but still there are many seemingly insurmountable problems facing Peru’s youth. Many children are abandoned and unwanted by their families, others live lives in such extreme poverty that most Americans couldn’t even fathom, still others are subjected to forced labor or child trafficking. Cusco is unfortunately a big center both for child trafficking and “street children”. Their families sometimes send them away under false promises from family relatives or friends thinking that they are going to the big city to get a better education and more opportunities, while day after day they are forced to work in the streets selling artisan goods and candy for money that they will never see. Others knowingly exploit their children because they are so desperate for money themselves. These children grow up in harsh conditions – drugs, rape, and abuse are very commonplace.
Our church here in Peru cares deeply about the children here and we participate in various projects throughout the year to try and help them. At times our children’s class is full of “street children” and we are blessed with the opportunity to teach them about the Bible. We have worked with several orphanages here in various ways, provided Christmas gifts and clothing to different communities, underprivileged children in the hospital, and those in homes for the mentally disabled. These places don’t have the same access to government funding that programs like this see in the United States, so solely through volunteer efforts and NGOs are they able to carry out their functions. Though we are only able to help in a seemingly small way, hopefully our efforts show them the love of Jesus and give them some hope for a brighter future. Please pray with us on Sunday and everyday for the children suffering in Peru and all over the world.