Christians Help Peru Rebuild

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CWNews.com - Five months after the earthquake that struck southern Peru, the appearance of Pisco is changing.

Trucks continue to scoop up the rubble while reconstruction work advances as quickly as the government's resources allow.

But while they await the rebuilding of their homes, where are these displaced families staying? Not far away, there is a place where they have found food, water and shelter.

Displaced Still in Shelters

There are three other shelters that offer services, completely free, to about 500 people. During the day they are almost empty - but that's the idea.

Eugenia Rivas lives at the shelter. She works at a tomato plantation while her son Jonathan is in school. Eugenia is saving like never before.

"The help of this shelter allows me to save so that later I can have my own house, a nice house," she said.

Now she's smiling, but when the tragedy occurred her face looked very different. Today, all that's left of her old home and neighborhood are some bricks and painful memories of those first hours after the quake.

"We had no water, there was nothing to eat," she said. "And sometime around noon, I found a lady who gave me water and I didn't know if was clean or dirty but she gave it to me."

Now Eugenia and her son have what they need at the shelter.

Ministries Step in to Help

All this was possible thanks to several Christian ministries including Operation Blessing and the Lifeway Church, which joined efforts just hours after the disaster.

The directors hope that every family will take advantage of their months at the shelter to save for the future.

"We have told them to take advantage of this opportunity," Project Administrator Keny Ojanama said. "With the water we give them, the food and the clothing and shoes we give them, we are saying they don't have to buy those things and the money they would have spent for that, they can save."

Eugenia has taken that advice seriously, so much so that she recently contracted a builder to prepare the foundation for her new house.

She knows that the help she and her son now receive comes from many people who obeyed the command of Jesus to help those in need.

That's why this is her favorite prayer:

"Thank you God and bless all the people who send us all this help, the tents, everything. Bless them greatly, my God."

Rebuilding the Heart

It may be a long time before Pisco returns to what it used to be. But Eugenia and Jonathan have begun the most important reconstruction: that of the heart.

These three shelters in Pisco will remain open until the middle of April. The expectation is that by then the quake victims will begin to move into the houses that the government is rebuilding and use their savings to start over again.

The broader challenge is to revitalize the earthquake-shattered economy and create new job opportunities.

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