School difficulties in the aftermath of Peru’s earthquake

Luckily, on August 15, lessons had finished 40 minutes before. This prevented the number of dead students to be higher. 8 Fe y Alegría students died when their houses crumbled down. The worst hit cities were Chincha, Pisco and Ica.

In general the Fe y Alegría infrastructures were not severely damaged. The concern over the quality in the construction of the buildings guaranteed their resistance, except for school nº 30 in Chincha which was more deteriorated and was used as a provisional shelter at the beginning of the disaster. As of today, Fe y Alegría has set up 22 provisional wooden classrooms so that primary and secondary students may renew lessons.

The situation of many family homes, the big economic losses of whole areas and the physical and moral tiredness of the population are some of the causes that slow down the normal school rhythm which considering the circumstances, has ceased being a priority for many students.



Article by David Alonso, responsible for the Entreculturas Latin American Department, published in the newspaper El Mundo:

Eight empty desks

"The spotlights, double pages and headlines on Peru's earthquake will soon disappear. In fact, this time it is surprising to see a wide coverage after the first few days. This necessary information, this open window to tragedy, has a clear social function, a responsibility with what is happening. This time there is a solidarity answer which is not true about all these catastrophes, but when it comes almost spontaneously and almost immediately, it is a sign of hope after chaos.

After their efficient help in the area, the logistic teams, the emergency experts, the firemen, doctors and psychologists from different organizations, will leave. We hope it will be as soon as possible because it would be a sign of improvement, although there may be still a lot to do. As Jon Sobrino said after the El Salvador earthquake in 2001, the earthquakes show they affect the poorer populations, destroying the most vulnerable areas and populations. The earthquake also shows all the solidarity, organization and strength of the local entities, of community nets, of the structures set up during calm periods that hold us together when the seism comes.

In Entreculturas we believe that societies are built counting on education as the main pillar. After all the help which we hope will arrive, the Fe y Alegría school in Chincha, will cease to be an emergency settlement, coordinated with Caritas and the parishes of the area, and will go back to being a school again. Fortunately, life goes on and education is also in emergency alert for the most deprived. There will be personal and community tragedies for those people who were born here or who came here from the mountains looking for a better life, there will have to be reconstruction. Curiously, the area where the Fe y Alegría school is located and which has been devastated is called Pueblo Nuevo (New Town) and it will have to be re built. But the first day of school will not be the same; we will see eight empty desks, eight boys and girls who will not let us forget what we still have to engage in, the joint and daily commitment with the poorer populations of Peru before and after the earthquake.