Peru Country Manager Daniel Salazar writes how Global Volunteers’ ongoing support to the Sagrada Familia children’s home inspired the resident children to tackle the most pressing issue in Peru right now: a lack of oxygen that has led the country to have the highest covid-19 death rate in the world. Using their talents, the children want to help their neighbors get access to oxygen, for free.
Live Zoom Event Saturday, Sept. 26 – 1PM Central
In late August, Peru made it to world news headlines again as the World’s Deadliest COVID-19 Hot Spot. That is, Peru became the deadliest pandemic hotspot with 86.2 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants. Almost a month later, the situation has worsened. Peru now leads the deadliest country chart with 98.1 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants by a wide margin, with Bolivia second with 67.8 deaths. To put things in perspective, the U.S. ranks sixth on this chart with 61.4 deaths. Why is it then that Peru has become the COVID-19 deadliest country in the world?
Although the private health care system in Peru is relatively solid, the public health care system is clearly deficient. According to the World Bank, while the U.S. health expenditure in 2017 was seventeen percent of its GDP, in Peru it was less than five percent. So when the pandemic hit Peru, the country only had 100 ICU beds for a population of 33 million. But there are countries with even worse public health systems and much smaller COVID-19 mortality rates. So a deficient public health care system is not the only factor behind this crisis. The explanation may be a lot simpler: with no oxygen, people die.
For the past few months, it’s become common for Peruvians to receive messages and calls, or see posts on social media, from friends or acquaintances, requesting help to find oxygen. There has been a huge shortage of oxygen in the country. At the peak of the outbreak, Peru only produced twenty percent of the oxygen it needed. The government never really made any significant investment in oxygen imports or production, and it even inaugurated new hospitals with no oxygen. So for most Peruvians, who only have access to the public health care system, being able to find a bed at a public hospital has been a miracle. But an even odder occurrence has been to find oxygen at the hospital. Public hospitals have had to ask patients to purchase their own oxygen tanks. This led to a huge spike in the price of oxygen, condemning the poorest with a serious infection to almost certain death.
Thanks to the support of many private companies, who have produced and donated tons of oxygen, the shortage has been reduced. But the oxygen shortage still exists, and the poorest keep suffering the most. This has touched the heart of the children at our community partner, Sagrada Familia, who understand what it means to suffer because of lack of access to adequate health care. When Miguel shared with them how Global Volunteers has supported Sagrada Familia throughout the pandemic, the children asked for the chance to be able to do the same for the people who suffer because of lack of oxygen. They came up with the idea of using what they have, their talents, to be able to purchase large quantities of oxygen for those who need it.
Sagrada Familia plans on hosting an online “lunch and live show” event to gather donations. The children will present various typical Peruvian dances while guests enjoy their “online meal.” The cost per ticket is $20, although larger donations are welcomed. The event will take place through the Zoom online platform this Saturday September 26th at 1 PM local time. In addition to this, Miguel has managed to get signed jerseys from Peruvian soccer players who played on the last World Cup. These will be auctioned. Miguel has also managed to get a couple of local companies to pledge to double and triple the gathered donations. With the final amount collected, Sagrada Familia will either install an oxygen plant at the Sagrada Familia health clinic or purchase large quantities of oxygen tanks, depending on the amount collected. All this oxygen will then be distributed FOR FREE to people in need.
This is how the work of Global Volunteers has an impact in the children of Peru, and how they, in turn, work to help others. We encourage you to join their live event at 1PM Central on Saturday Sept. 26 to appreciate the children’s effort and talent. While Miguel never asks our volunteers to donate, this cause is an opportunity for you to support the wider community, and to widely share the event with your social network. Please note this is not a Global Volunteers fundraiser, and as such is not tax-deductible.
You may also like: