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The Anna Dengel Family Center, Arequipa, Peru

Arequipa, Peru, is a city of approximately 1 million people, many of whom have been made poor. Women in the family, as well as men, must work if there is to be enough food on the table. Our Anna Dengel Center offers the occupational training services they need, for a nominal fee.

At the Center, adults can enroll in such courses as computer science, tailoring/sewing, and cosmetology, which are all government-recognized and certified programs. A course in bakery skills gives women a new way to generate income. Courses are also given to youth groups, within and outside of the parish. Sisters Pat Gootee, Cathy Ouellette and Marisol Martinez are involved in the Center.

To ensure a safe place for the children while the parents are working, our Sisters opened a Wawacuna (day care center) at the Anna Dengel Center.  Local women, trained as teachers, work with the children each day. The youngest children are just a few months old; the oldest are primary-school age, and come after school. All the children receive nutritious meals and/or snacks appropriate to the time of day. National celebrations, like the one pictured, help the children to appreciate their cultural heritage.

The Wawacuna will soon be given official recognition by the Ministry of Education. It then will become eligible for financial assistance and school food program support.

“We are moving into education and training because they have more multiplying effects,” explain our Sisters in Peru. “Daily nourishment for us is found in walking with the people, sharing their joys, suffering and accomplishments in life.”