Global Volunteers’ ongoing support inspired community partner Sagrada Familia to tackle a critical issue in Peru currently: The lack of oxygen to treat COVID-19 patients. Using their talents, the resident children held an online fundraising event to help supply their neighbors oxygen, for free. Thanks to all the volunteers who supported this effort!
Sagrada Familia hosted an online “lunch and live show” event on September 26th to publicize the need and raise funds for an oxygen plant to be built on the Community’s campus. Participating “guests” paid a $20 or more to enjoy the children’s typical Peruvian dances over the Zoom online platform. Sagrada Familia Founder Miguel Rodriguez appealed to local companies to double and triple the gathered donations. The event was a success, with up to 300 attendees from Peru, Europe and the U.S. and donations of approximately $20,000.
That was enough for the down payment to begin the permitting process for the construction that will begin toward the end of the year at the community clinic. In the coming weeks, Miguel will continue raising approximately $36,000 to complete the project. He’s hopeful, as usual, that “all will fall into place,” and the new oxygen plant will provide treatment FOR FREE to people in need.
This is another way Global Volunteers’ partnerships on the local level ripple out to the broader community. Thank you to volunteers who have served at Sagrada Familia, and especially those who have continued to support this wonderful community. You have inspired the children to reach out beyond themselves in solidarity to provide services and hope to hundreds of people at the time they need it most.
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. A month later, the situation has worsened. Peru led 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. ranked 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 became common for Peruvians to receive messages and calls, or see posts on social media, from friends or acquaintances, requesting help to find oxygen. There was 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 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 oxygen has become more expensive, and the poorest suffer the most. This 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.
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