Sophia White is a student part of Step Into the Gap programme in CAFOD. She is sharing with us what she has discovered while at CAFOD and raising our awareness on issues affecting Peru.
In my more unreasonable and self-absorbed moments during lockdown, I have found it helpful to think back on the call with CAFOD’s Peru Programme Officer. During 2020, four different Presidents and four different Prime Ministers were in office, and children were only allowed outside for thirty minutes per day. These facts give some perspective about the relative freedom and stability we have here in the UK, while, unfortunately, also highlighting how insular our media proves us to be.
Peru is one of the countries most vulnerable to climate change in the world. With its position on the San Andreas Fault and the Pacific Ring of Fire, it is also one of the countries most vulnerable to natural disasters.
How Can Our Church Help ?
Recently, I had an argument with a friend about the environment. “Why do so many Christians not seem to care about the environment?” I asked. “Why do so many environmentalists not seem to care about people?” was her reply, and is one which I have seen repeated in various publications.
Concern for the environment is very much intertwined with caring about people. This surely comes as no surprise to you, dear reader of a CAFOD blog, but it can’t really be stated enough. We must listen to the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor, and in learning more about CAFOD’s work, I find it increasingly difficult to see how we can listen to one without the other, or love God without caring for creation. Now back to Peru.
Melting Glaciers and High Deforestation
Peru is heavily reliant on glaciers for its water supply for drinking, crops, livestock, and for generating energy. With melting glaciers, water supplies are predicted to drop significantly over the next twenty years, which will have a huge bearing on life in Peru over this time.
Since 1968 there has been large-scale urbanisation in Peru which has led to significant environmental as well as demographic changes. 20-25% of Peru’s population live in poverty, and, before the pandemic, around 70% of people work in informal employment. This means that people live on what they earn on a daily basis, with very little savings. Woman are less likely to have access to higher educational and stable employment opportunities than men. This has now risen to around 80%.
60% of Peru is in the Amazon, which, like is the case in Brazil, is facing high levels of deforestation. One of the most important industry’s for Peru’s economy is mining. This is also often responsible for widespread social and environmental damage, particularly water pollution, and other health problems which can affect local communities. Those who speak out against the negative effects of the industry and campaign to protect the environment and protect their human rights often face threats, and in some cases have been killed.
What We Can Do
CAFOD’s partners work to help people defend their rights, and empower them to be active members of their communities and neighbourhoods.
In indigenous anthropology, we are the earth and the earth is us. Our own Christian and western anthropologies may beg to differ, but I have found that there is a lot of wisdom in this and have found myself more regularly pondering on and praying about it.
We invite you to watch a video about one of our partner’s projects in Peru and pray with us to make a difference.