Arequipa COVID19 Refugee Emergency

Can we do 700 bags this week?

01 May 2020
“Can we do 700 bags this week?”  was the question posed last Monday to the team of workers responsible for packing food bags.   We had done about 600 the previous week, so what was 100 more?  God has been gracious in providing the funds and faithful workers to serve in this ministry.  
An obstacle we have faced is finding enough food and getting it to the place where bags are packed.  Our vehicles were packed to capacity carrying food for just 300 bags.  It was also getting increasingly difficult to find enough food without spending hours driving around to different places, avoiding roads that had been blocked off, explaining our work to police who regularly stopped us, and finding that stores that had been open previously, were now closed.  
A colleague runs a Breakfast Program which delivers food to churches to provide breakfasts for children in need.  He recommended his delivery person, and we made contact with her.  She now weekly delivers some of the food we need.  This has been a great help.
Packed car
Another concern was preventing “burn-out” for those who were working long hours every day packing and delivering.  The work was divided into morning and afternoon “shifts” so people could have a break.  The Lord was also faithful in providing new people to pack, so that the same people didn’t have to come every day.   Some regular workers had to take days off because of illness or injury, but we were still able to get the required number of bags packed.  
Packing food
A quick update on a previous blog —- Oriana’s baby boy recovered from his fever with the medication we were able to provide, and her niece who was covered with a rash also improved within one day after receiving medicated cream.  She is also now fully recovered.  Thanks to all who prayed!  
We are in the process of making this an official project of SIM which people can donate directly to.  We don’t know how long the quarantine will last, or for how long people will need this service.  God knows, though, and our prayer is that God will provide the funds for as long as this project is needed.  Please join us in prayer.  In a future blog we will give information on donating directly to the project.  Another way to help with similar needs around the world is to donate to SIM’s emergency fund.  

Please pray for me

17 Apr 2020
“Please pray for me.  Pray for my children and my family.”  This request came from Oriana, a woman we are helping through our Venzuelan Refugee Project.  Oriana came to Peru as part of a group of 5 families who belonged to the same church in Venezuela.  She has a 5-month old baby boy who was suffering from fever, and an online doctor had advised antibiotics.  (Antibiotics are sadly very over-prescribed here.)  She was asking for help in buying the antibiotics.  I had her talk to a colleague who is also a doctor, and he advised her to simply treat the fever with fever medication instead of using such strong medicine.  We provided the medication for her, and her son is now doing much better. 
Oriana lives with her sister and brother-in-law, who also escaped from Venezuela.  Her 3-year-old niece has become covered with an unidentified itchy rash.  In these times, the only way non-emergency cases like this may be treated is by phone and photos.  So we showed photos of the child’s condition to the pharmacist (who often double as doctors here) and she recommended Vaseline and another medicated cream to put on at night.  Please pray for healing for this child.  
Oriana’s family is only one of many, many needy Venezuelan families here in Arequipa.  As you can see, food is not the only need they have.  Please pray for our project, as we seek to help these families with their critical needs.  Pray for wisdom, guidance, and provision.  
We currently have the funds to continue this project for only one more week.  The quarantine is currently until April 26th, and may be extended.  If you would like to donate to our project, please see the information below.

How can we increase our capacity?

17 Apr 2020
What started as a project to help feed 150 families through this critical time has exploded. This week, we’re delivering these care packages to almost 500 families and we’re looking at ways we can continue to expand to meet the need. Estimates are that there are over 12,000 Venezuelan refugees in our city.
Here’s an example of what we put into one package to give to each family. It costs us roughly USD12 to help feed a family for a week.
Care Package
Our big challenge now is how can we increase our capacity. In the last week we’ve become more efficient in buying food and packing it but there’s a limit to how much more efficient we can become. We can’t expand our team or bring in volunteers because the government has put in place strict restrictions about who can work. These are generally a good thing because it forces people to stay at home but this is unfortunate for us.
A large group of Venezuelans wait for their package. The police are here too ensuring that people keep a distance from each other.
Keeping distance
We’re also spending more than we expected. We’ve opened the project to let Peruvians give financially or donate food and we already received a few generous gifts. If you’d like to support a family you can give through the SIM International Relief Fund:
A gift of $24 will help 2 families with food for a week. $240 will help 20 families.
Please pray for wisdom in how we use our time and resources. Please pray that we can make an impact greater than simply feeding people. Pray that we can show love to the people that we serve with food.

We needed a Miracle

06 Apr 2020
We started Saturday needing a miracle.  We had coordinated with a two groups of Venezuelans to deliver food bags to them that afternoon.  The second group was quite large, and we feared we wouldn’t have quite enough bags.  Matthias read the story of the feeding of the 5,000 from the Bible, and we prayed that God would once again provide so that these hungry people could be fed.
A team of 8 people spent the morning packaging the different food items and making bags; they came to 85.  The bags were then packed into two waiting vehicles.  
We visited the first group of 11 families, all living in the same hostel.  After giving them their food bags, we talked with them about the Lord.  They all seemed to be believers.  One lady asked me for prayer for a family member who was hospitalized in Bolivia.  What must it be like to have family members scattered among different countries at a time like this?  We had a time of prayer in the group, then we bid them farewell and went to where we were to meet with the second group.
Giving food
They were waiting for us in the street.  There were also police waiting, because there was a crowd.  Matthias went to talk with the police to explain to them what we were doing.  We encouraged the people to maintain several feet of distance between them as they formed a line.  This group was rather organized and had composed a list of the people who were coming — according to the list, we were going to run out.  We started handing out the food bags, and the last one went to the last person in line.  We had exactly enough!  God is truly our Provider! 
Giving food
Please pray that God will continue to provide, and give us wisdom and strength as we seek to minister to these people in this time of crisis.


Getting Food to people in Need

03 Apr 2020
We've just started a project to support some of the most vulnerable people in this crisis in Peru. There are thousands of Venezuelan refugees who normally make a living selling on the streets. But now the streets are empty and they have no source of income.
We buy food in bulk. Here we bought 260 kg of potatoes.
Buying food in bulk
The team divides the food and creates a bag that can help support a family for a week
Packing the food
We deliver it to families in need along with an evangelistic tract and health info.
Getting food to families in need
Please pray for energy and wisdom so that the food gets to the right people. Please pray that we can show the love of Jesus at a time when we're wearing masks and can't even shake hands.
Please click here to support SIM's Emergency Fund which helps this project and others like it.
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