Day 170

And just like that another month has passed and we’ve completed another 31 days of quarantine.

Today we are starting our third month of “focused quarantine” and some regions of Peru are going back into “full quarantine” until September 30th. Since children 14 and under are still required to remain at home and are only allowed a 30-minute daily walk within 500 meters of their home for mental health, we’re pretty much under quarantine still since there is always somebody at home with Will.

Will is still enjoying logging into his daily Zoom preschool classes and excitedly asks what the day’s topic will be. He happily collects each day’s activities out of the printer each morning.

One day there were 7 activity sheets!

Sorting noodles by shape

On his morning Zoom call

Mini chef Will prepared homemade pizzas for lunch, just like his teacher showed him

Playing with a balloon during ‘gym’ (psychomotor education) class

Will and his 3 teachers, Miss Dani, Miss Nelly and Miss Mati

Sometime in April (when we didn’t realize we’d still be in quarantine some 20 weeks later!), we decided to start something with Will that we’re calling “Sábado Movie Picnic.” Every Saturday we watch a movie over a picnic lunch on the floor of our living room. Since the theme of 3-year old preschool this year seems to be the days of the week in English and Spanish, we frequently discuss what day it is during breakfast and how many more days it is until Saturday again. Since it has been so many weeks and we always watch a new movie, Will has seen quite a bit of the Disney and Pixar classics.

At the end of a Sábado Movie Picnic – we have to watch all the credits, per Will’s request.

Will popping in to say hello during a Zoom meeting.

Washing hands in the dark while the power was out.

Our friend, Carmen, met us in our neighborhood park to go on a socially distanced walk.

Will has been talking about Toy Story 4 non-stop and created his own Spoony (Forky’s friend) since we didn’t have a disposable spork.

New favorite activity is playing “having a meeting” at the desk with Billy’s headphones.

Billy has recently started leading weekly workshops on Monday evenings over Zoom for a local church in the district of Manchay. The workshops are designed to help prepare lay leaders in the church to come alongside and mentor families who are in vulnerable situations or who are currently in crisis.

Paths of Hope has also partnered with Health Bridges International in the development and implementation of a peer mentorship program for young adults who have graduated from a children’s home. One of the things we have noticed is that as young adults leave a children’s home, many times there still is a need for continued guidance. Billy has started working with one young man as the program is being put together, and training him to be the first peer mentor. Likewise with Health Bridges, we are still working on developing and implementing a staff training curriculum that is evidence based and rooted in best practices for the two children’s homes in their care. COVID-19 has both given us time to work on the development of these two projects, but has also slowed things down at the same time.

Billy spends a lot of his days looking at a screen like this. If the meeting coincides with afternoon quiet time, I get to join in.

Unfortunately COVID-19 numbers are still not looking good here in Peru. Despite a quick lockdown nationwide in mid-March, the country has not been able to get ahead of the spread of Coronavirus. We had multiple days in a row this month of our “highest daily positive number since mid-March.” As a country of approximately 30 million people (10% of the population of the United States), there were days where we were adding 8500 new cases. Peru now has the highest death rate to population in the world.

While we appreciate that the Peruvian government tried to follow internationally accepted protocols for responding to Coronavirus, it seems that protocol was designed for more developed countries. When we were asked to grocery shop for a week at a time, that was very hard for those without a refrigerator. This meant going to a market every couple days, and talking to and exchanging money with multiple shopkeepers. By staying at home, many people were not able to work or earn an income (not nearly as many telework options as in developed countries), so people were out in the streets doing manual labor, selling wherever and whatever they could, trying to provide for their family. Many households do not have running water and pay for water delivery by cistern trucks. If you have very limited access to water for cooking, drinking and cleaning, how much of that can you spare for hand washing? On top of all of this, the Peruvian health system was not great to begin with – let alone with a pandemic overfilling hospital beds and ICUs.

We are thankful that we are able to safely ‘shelter-in-place’. We have been able to modify our work to fit Zoom as best we can, we have a refrigerator and our apartment is connected to city water. But at the same time, we recognize that it’s a sad phenomenon – to be living only a few miles from where there is such harrowing scarcity and need, and yet, be physically removed from it.

As always we very much appreciate your prayers for us, our ministry and for the country and people of Peru.

Stay safe.

– Kate, Billy & Will

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