International Ministries

The Bread of Hope Campaign, a Sign of Love During Difficult Times

The Peruvian Methodist Church, in partnership with United Methodist Women and more, feeds four thousand.

The Bread of Hope Campaign, a Sign of Love During Difficult Times
Claudia, a recipient of a food basket, teaches others how to prepare cachangas, a bread-like fried dough.

As people of faith, we are called to spread signs of hope and love amidst difficult times. For this reason, the Methodist Church of Peru launched the Bread of Hope campaign, with the aim of distributing seven-day food bags for 600 families in six districts. According to Mrs. Janett Rojas-Huerta, president of the Solidarity Committee, thanks to individuals and partner organizations, such as United Methodist Women, 985 families were reached, with more than 4,000 people served.

Meet the People

To know the stories of the people is to be inspired by their faith and resilience:
  • Claudia had a stroke in late January 2019. She was a very active participant in her women’s group, always willing to facilitate a cooking workshop. To supplement her widowhood pension, she worked caring for patients at the hospital. Now, her expenses have diminished and been directed towards her rehabilitation, so she found the food basket to be great blessing.
  • Juanita, at age 89, worked selling anticuchos, grilled heart skewers, in the afternoons. Since the beginning of quarantine, she cannot generate any income, and in her apartment building, she did not benefit from the relief or food basket provided by the government. But she confesses that God never forgets her daughters and sons; this food basket is proof of that.
  • Iris is a young adult who had a severe car accident in 2019, leaving her in coma for many months. Still in physical rehabilitation but with tons of energy to serve in her local church, she said the Bread of Hope gift was a relief to her.
  • Maria Elena used to sell fried chicken in her doorway. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, she could no longer work and she struggled to cover the family’s daily meal. With school age children, she had to find resources to connect with their online lessons. “I didn’t know what to do to cover the family expenses, but when you knocked my door and told me that you have been praying for my family and me, and you asked me, ´How are you?´ I forgot my problems and had a restorative breath. I felt that you were sent by God who is our strength.” 
  • Luz Marina, a 21-year-old mother of one child who lives in the native community of Emat, in Imaza, Bagua, Amazonas, said there was a moment when her family ran out of food. The government assistance didn’t arrive to Emat, it stayed in the cities. But she affirmed that with the gift  from Bread of Hope, God always provides.
  • Carmen worked for a courier service, delivering hundreds of envelopes, and printed documents every day. Due to the pandemic and the new legislation authorizing the issue of digital information, she lost her job but not her faith nor her assurance that, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”
  • Teresita is 74-year-old church leader and pensioner. To cover her monthly expenses, she used to care for a woman. However, due to her age and susceptibility to the virus, she had to stop working. Budget constraints were a daily struggle. “Like refreshing waters,” was her response to the news that she was to be a beneficiary of a food bag from the Lima-Callao Women’s Association, where she serves as secretary. “God’s love is everlasting and comforting. His response always comes at the right time,” is Teresa’s witness.
  • Fermin is a 72-year-old man who works as a housepainter, always in the informal sector. For this reason, he had no pension. The little money he had ran out and there were days when he had to knock on doors asking for food. “This aid was a real relief. I will never understand God’s mercy, but what I am aware of is that God is always love.”

The Government’s Challenges of Reaching the Most Vulnerable 

Peru’s state of emergency due to COVID-19 began March 16, 2020, requiring the compulsory isolation, the closure of borders and the suspension of non-essential work activities in the public and private sectors. Since the quarantine coincided with the end of the first quarter of the year, many contracts ended and were not renewed. The government arranged a 35 percent subsidy to pay the wages of workers who receive less than 1,500 soles ($454) monthly.

In early April, the creation of the “Reactiva Peru” Program was released to grant guarantees to companies so that they can access to working capital loans, and thus be able to meet their short-term obligations with their workers and goods and services suppliers. Eight out of ten Peruvians lost their jobs or were force to become of an informal labor market.

To mitigate the effects of quarantine on household income, the government arranged subsidies and the distribution of food bags for households in extreme poverty and led by an independent worker. Unfortunately, not all of the people in need were beneficiaries, and as the size of households was not considered, the government solution wasn’t enough to cover the food expenses for more than three months.

The Work of Women

The workload for women has increased as they must reconcile their paid work with work at home and support for their sons and daughters in school while many also caring for elderly or sick relatives. Gender-based violence has increased and the possibilities of justice, protection and welfare for those who are victims of various forms of violence have become more complex.

District superintendents and local pastors and lay leaders were key to identify families living in vulnerable situations in the regions where the Methodist Church of Peru is present. The leaders considered criteria such as unemployment, one parent home, disability, non-pensioner elderly, and migrant. This was an opportunity to be light for many people.

Distributing the Food

There were many strategies to distribute the food baskets all along the Peruvian territory where households were located. The church leaders found ways to buy at discounted prices and to make the process transparent and accountable. Regions such as Piura and Ica, two of the most affected territories by COVID-19, remote communities such as Emat in the Amazon and Patacancha and Sonccomarca in Cusco, were reached by this campaign.

Two-thirds of the applicants for food baskets were women, which indicates that single parent homes led by women are becoming more and more common. Ninety five percent of the applicants were unemployed; within this group, three percent were disabled and six percent were migrants. The rest of the applicants were the elderly, whose average monthly income is 400 soles (about $116) or less.

We received many testimonials from the families, expressing how God has been with them in the most difficult moments, never leaving them alone or hunger, despite not being able to go out to work and with the scarcity of money to buy the most basic things.

We thank God for the opportunity to share through this chain of solidarity, for the warm hearts of brothers and sisters from different regions and countries to share with the ones in need.

Annie Solís-Escalante is President of the Methodist Women’s Association of the Lima-Callao District, Methodist Church of Peru.

Posted or updated: 2/5/2021 12:00:00 AM