At the turn of the new millennium, we started a project to work with Father Ed. O'Connell, a Columban Priest, who is working with the poor in Lima, Peru. We are giving financial support to Father Ed in his development of the parish community and mass centres.
Parishioners donate spare change into the millennium bottle each Sunday and regular Millennium breakfasts are held after Mass on Sunday morning to raise important funds for this good cause. Click here to access the list of parish events and find out more about the last Millennium breakfast. Alternatively, click on any of the links below to go straight to details of the millennium breakfasts we have held.
In the last 33 years the purchasing power of the ordinary people of Peru has dropped by 75 percent.
Wages in the public sector have been kept strictly under control; trade unions can no longer defend their worker rights or wages; many factories have closed, particularly in the cotton trade; and there are high levels of unemployment, especially among workers older than 40, due to downsizing.The wealth of Peru is now shared among the top 30 percent, leaving the remaining 70 percent suffering, with 52 percent of people living in such poverty that they cannot satisfy their basic family needs. Thirty percent are categorized as living in extreme poverty, especially in rural areas and on the margins of Lima, the capital city where the Columbans work.
Since 1999, Father Ed has lived in the midst of this situation in Lima in a large parish called Our Lady of the Missions, where most of the people are among those living in poverty or extreme poverty. At a series of meetings in 2000 with women of that parish’s Christian communities, they named unemployment and family violence as their principle enemies. The Columbans decided to tackle these issues by setting up a women and family center called Warmi Huasi, which means “Women’s Place” in the indigenous Quechua language.For the past six years, they have operated educational and income-generating programs to help women get into the workplace, mostly in the service industry.
With the help of a small nongovernmental organization called Solidaridad para el Desarrollo, (“Solidarity for Development”), more than 100 women each year since 2000 have participated in these courses, and this has resulted in five hairdressers’ shops, a soda stall, two small restaurants and two women who now teach the skills they learned.
For most projects, the women organize themselves into small groups to set up their businesses. Another network of women hires out their labor at a better rate to contractors in the cloth industry. Apart from the business ventures, many women have their own experiences of making and selling products, thus improving their family economy and quality of life. This has brought them to new levels of self-confidence and greater respect from their families.
To see some of the Millennium Breakfasts held, visit our Parish Archive here