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The Families of Challua - Huaraz, Peru
By Simone Posted in Featured Articles, Human Rights, South America, Volunteerism on 21 July 2008 0 Comments 5 min read
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I went with Isabell to see where the families of most of the children live… “Challua” (meaning invasion). Most of the families came to Huaraz from the mountains, and were wanting a better life plus education for their children.

Many families are now struggling, with the men working about only one day per week in perhaps construction, and the women washing clothes and selling eggs and other food in the markets whenever they can.

Their houses are mostly made from mud brick called Adobe, which must be left to dry for a week once made. The authorities are reluctant to do anything about the condition of the houses because of the chance of flooding in the rainy season.

The water supply works only twice per day for 150 families. They are allowed 3 x 80 litres for the day. Before Caño (water tap), the families had to buy water (1 sole for 10 litres) from the families in the legal houses behind. All that the Huaraz Municipal gives the town, are volunteers to help them recycle.

The people in the houses behind the town of Challua break the people of Challua`s sewage pipes so that all of the sewage seeps into their backyards and smells terrible. They also throw their rubbish into their yards on purpose because they think it is wrong that they are there illegally. They then blame this on the people of Challua so that others will think that the town is disgusting.

A couple of days after my visit to Challua, I went back to meet Isabelle and some project managers from the organisation “Care”. They had come to help try and build better water systems, and with the poor hygiene.

As a local spoke about her living conditions to the Care workers, a pig stood at our side snorting, while two chickens chased each other around madly on the dirt. She spoke about how she prevents the water getting into her houses during the wet season, and how she needed to keep building her house up.

Within the group, I met Francois, who came with the Care workers as part of an internship from May to August. He is from Canada, is studying water engineering, and wants to see what it`s like to work with an NGO, compared with a Government run organisation. He told me that it is frustrating in NGO`s sometimes because it takes so long to get things done.

Isabelle added “We hope for small victories all the time”.

The smell of feces was stronger this time, as it was earlier in the afternoon, and hotter. The children have diarrhea two to three times per month, and don`t want to travel far into the middle of the river to go to the toilet.

120 families here and a few families from another neighborhood with similar conditions are trying to apply to the government for ownership of their homes via possession papers. The current Mayor doesn`t want to grant them this though, again because of the flooding situation in the wet season.

The family’s primary objective here, is to build a wall so their houses don`t flood, and to get own the houses they live in. They all don`t seem to care too much about their hygiene.

Later that afternoon in the kindergarten called “Star of the new morning”, the locals sat waiting, with dirt covered faces and dressed in colourful attire, ready to listen to an organised meeting. Isabelle welcomed everybody, and Ciro (one of the managers from Care organisation), continued the meeting, talking about what could be done to help the town.

Water, light and sewer systems were the main topics of discussion. The children must even study with candles. They cannot get any of these things without living legally in the area, but it is a bit of a contradiction because the same water company that put in the taps that are already there, won`t do any more work now.

All of the locals say this is their home and that nothing can force them to leave… even the concerning floods. There is rubbish and sewage from the nearby hospital running into the river, which is right beside their houses. A lot of this gets trapped and is a breeding ground for diseases and sickness.

Ciro told the families they must all start going to the toilet in the designated areas, or the consequence will be no water the next day. This is the only way to make sure that poor hygiene doesn`t continue. The locals were told by Ciro that they need to apply to the administration of agriculture to get this cleaned up.

The locals were also encouraged by Ciro to join forces together so that things could get better for all of them. If they don’t do this, then things will only keep going downhill.

If you would like to find out more or help the town of Challua, contact Isabell through the website

Challua Children Peru Poverty Seeds of Hope Streets Volunteerism

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