Global Volunteers Peru Country Manager Daniel Salazar has been working closely (while keeping a safe physical distance) with our Peru Partner Miguel Rodríguez throughout the pandemic to ensure Global Volunteers’ projects continue. Most recently, he helped Miguel purchase fresh food to be delivered to the children and teachers in quarantine inside the Sagrada Familia Community. Their meetings have afforded time for the two men to reflect on the challenges of providing human and social services to a vulnerable population during a global health crisis. Daniel’s admiration for Miguel is evident in their most recent conversation, excerpted here.
“One thing you notice when you meet Miguel Rodríguez, founder and director of the Sagrada Familia children’s home,” says Daniel, “is that he jumps on every opportunity he has to help children. Most of the time he decides to help even when he doesn’t have the resources to do so.” The school at Sagrada Familia is an example of that.
As word spread about Sagrada Familia’s success educating displaced and abandoned children, government services began referring children to the community. As demand grew, Miguel converted living quarters into classrooms. “Miguel decided to build a school for the children. But he had no resources. Slowly, they were able to build a few classrooms for elementary school, then high school, and lastly Pre-K.” It wasn’t an optimal solution, so Miguel turned to funders inside and outside the country to help. When given the opportunity, Global Volunteers alumni contributed for the construction of three Pre-K classrooms in 2019. “Working alongside the community, volunteers transformed an area full of rubble and rusted vehicles into three beautiful classrooms with a little garden in front,” Daniel explained.
Miguel’s entreaty “Stay focused on the future” is an inspiration especially in this time of crisis. Together, we plan for a time when volunteers can return to Sagrada Familia. Daniel shares his recent conversation with Miguel about a “post-COVID-19” partnership with Global Volunteers:
When you think about how Sagrada Familia will emerge from the pandemic, will it be stronger or weaker?
I don’t know if we will emerge weaker or stronger per se. What we know is that we will grow in our love for each other. If that is our strength, then we will emerge stronger. We will come out valuing each other more every day. If that is strength, then we will emerge stronger. We will learn to manage our scarce resources better. If that is strength, then we will emerge stronger. We will come out respecting each other more. If that is strength, then we will emerge stronger. We are understanding that we need the tiniest elements in our system, even an ant. Everything matters. We will emerge much stronger, more united, and knowing that in our hands rests the decision to be happy or unhappy.
What message do you have for Global Volunteers about your community’s endurance?
To everyone from Global Volunteers, every single volunteer, thank you so much for what you are doing for us. Once more, even away from us, you have changed our lives helping us feed our children amid the pandemic. I wish I could share everything we are living, a community of children in a pandemic, how they are organized, what they are doing in the gardens, in the school, with the animals, because it’s an example of how to live in a pandemic. I see them and admire so many things they do to make us feel proud to be with them.
How important is it for Global Volunteers to return after the pandemic?
It’s vital for us. Because you have been to us an example working with us. You look at us, you see us as your equals; that’s vital. The necessity to include volunteers in our community is vital because it allows for the emotional and educational development of the children. We need more training. Our tutors need much more training. We need to implement adequate health systems. We need to implement our school. We need other ways to look at life. There’s truly lots to do. Because during this time in lockdown we have been able to see so many defects in our infrastructure that we must change. We need your vision, your hugs, and to know that you will stay with us. You allow us to understand that the world is a global community.
Read more from Miguel here: