Latin America is an extraordinary world. The beauty and diversity of its cultures, geography, biodiversity, and histories reveal lively, creative, hardworking, and resilient peoples.
Nevertheless, terrible acts of injustice also occur against people and their communities. Poverty and extreme poverty continue to be high, affecting millions of people. We lament that discrimination based on ethnicity, skin color, gender, economic status, and language contribute to an everyday oppression of many of our brothers and sisters.
However, we also rejoice in the fruit of this work over the past 25 years. People are increasingly becoming aware of the injustices around them and are willing to join efforts to speak up about what is wrong, to stand up for what is right, and to work together to build a more just world. Below are some of the key areas we focus on:
Violence Against Children & Women
High rates of sexual and physical violence, trafficking and exploitation, and disability discrimination are destroying the lives of so many children and women. Certain risk factors such as weak or unavailable public institutions and services in poor communities, as well as cultural patterns (such as machismo), legitimize and even justify sexual violence.
In the various contexts we are located, specific factors make children in poverty more vulnerable, such as not having education available their language, being deaf, or even for simply being an indigenous child.
One specifically tragic case was an 8 year old girl named Yuri, who was horrifically abused and then killed in a small town in Huánuco, Peru. In the end, the crime went unpunished. This case is one of many that demonstrate the judicial system does not deliver justice for millions of people that live in poverty. We respond in order to prevent violence against vulnerable children, to intervene for victims, and work to transform systems and culture in our communities to keep such injustices from happening in the future.
After Bangladesh and Ethiopia, Peru takes the third place in high levels of sexual assaults in the world. The Social Tolerance Index in regards to family violence to women is very high, now reaching 54.8%. (Source: Ministerio de la Mujer del Peru)
Statistics show that 40% of women have been abused by their partner. (Source: INEI) The same happens for children who are abused mostly by the people closest to them. Abuse has an intense effect on people and can replicate from victims to then becoming abusers themselves.
It is important to consider that more women are participating economically in the household. These are transformed entrepreneurial women that fight for a better quality of life for their children. For these women, tolerance for abuse from the men in a family has decreased. When they reject the abuse of masculinity, some women imitate the aggressive behavior of the men. This is an important social change in marital relationships.
The history of people and nations throughout the Americas inflicting injustice on indigenous people groups is long and full of pain. Latin America is home to approximately 500 different ethnic groups, with much diversity and beauty among indigenous people groups, yet we continue to see many ways in which the indigenous in our countries suffer due to unchecked greed, power, and unjust laws and policies.
We see tendencies of change in both the Amazon communities and farming communities: the hoarding of land, the loss of communitarian identity, the rise of new demands among the indigenous communities, and the contamination of their territories.
The hoarding of land is a phenomenon that affects both the Amazon and farming communities of the Andes. The loss of common land directly affects migration, especially of youth towards the cities, and breaks down the family and community. Persons with fewer resources that stay in the communities progressively become pawns. Both processes weaken traditions and common practices along with human rights.
Our pursuit of peace and the peace process…
The disparities of those impacted by environmental issues and our work to care for Creation…
When disaster strikes, the communities we live and work in often experience the worst, because disaster magnifies the disparity that already exists for people and communities in poverty. Because Peace and Hope was founded in Latin America, by Latin Americans, we quite naturally respond to urgent crisis such as natural disasters. These are our communities, our churches, our towns and cities, our countries, and wherever our community is hurting, we seek to be there to respond in love.
Climate change is a global process of transformation that impacts every part of life for every town. The impact on the Andes and the Amazon is distinct, has real and harsh consequences on our people, and we see the changes around us taking place at a rapid pace. Not only do we respond to natural disasters, but we also work to prevent such calamity, helping communities with mitigation and adaptation to face the realities in our region of the world due to climate change and be prepared for future natural disasters.
Local teams are actively:
* Providing free and competent legal representation as well as psychological and educational support to survivors of violence.
* Providing support for women and children who are survivors of sexual violence and abuse.
* Preventing all kinds of violence against women and children.
* Providing educational support for deaf children in Moyobamba, Peru.
*Supporting the peace process in Colombia.
*Cultivating Indigenous churches that have a strong self-identity, rooting their Christian practices in their own contexts and working as agents of change in the Creator’s work of reconciling all things.
*Responding in love to migrants and refugees due to the crisis in Venezuala, meeting basic needs for the most vulnerable.
* Equipping parents and teachers to support the healthy development of children with different abilities.
* Training indigenous leaders to be able to defend the rights of communities that have been historically relegated.
*Caring for creation through a variety of projects, including our organic farm, modeling and equipping communities for sustainable agricultural practices in the Central Highlands of the Andes as well as in the Amazon.
*Providing training, workshops, and support for churches and communities to be equipped to respond to violence in their communities.
* Empowering local communities to be prepared to respond to natural disasters, and in this current season, to respond to crisis needs stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Thanks to your partnership with us, as Peace and Hope continues to expand throughout Latin America.