Hogar de Cristo Arequipa

Background

The Hogar de Cristo in Arequipa was born through the initiative of a group of people who are part of the International Movement of Catholic Action called MIAMSI-AREQUIPA, within which it is important to act with humility and gratitude to God, the Church and its members.

During the development of the national meeting in 1993, the drama of the abandoned children on the streets of Arequipa and the members´ own responsibility and their active part in society was exposed. Representatives of MIAMSI from Bolivia and Chile were present, and got invited. Nina Saona de Zúñiga detailed the state in which these children were found by the police, and placed in a shelter where they slept in beds with tattered and foul-smelling mattresses, with serious deficiencies in hygienic services, and living crammed together having to sleep 2 or more in each cot (which is why the older children abused the younger ones), as well as being poorly fed and dressed, etc.

Moved, Emilio Larraín from Chile, in agreement with his delegation, invited the Peruvian representatives to visit several work institutions in Santiago, among them the “Hogar de Cristo”, founded by the Jesuit Alberto Hurtado Cruchaga. The people who travelled to see this work were Nina de Zúñiga, Ruth de Muñoz Llerena and Lourdes San Román.

They were impressed by the way in which the problem of abandoned children was attended to, giving them shelter in good conditions with the help of donations from companies and people who knew about this work. Father Poblete S.J., Chaplain of the Home, pointed out something that would remain etched in the later work of the Home in Arequipa: “Don’t worry about the money, God will provide. Worry about looking for good social assistance and educators willing to understand and help the children”.

Back in Arequipa, not only the members of MIAMSI- Arequipa, but also their spouses and friends were invited. The group of young people that took the initiative to contact the children in the streets and that until now are the mainstay of the association, were some members of Encuentros de Promoción Juvenil (EPJ), Lula Pérez Wicht SR, Eduardo Villamar, Mariela Salvatierra, Manuel Holguín, Rosa Contreras, Isabel Chávez, Violeta Salvatierra, Percy Lazo, among others.

Thus began, with not just a few difficulties, the Association Hogar de Cristo Arequipa, whose first directive was presided over by Miguel Barrionuevo and Sheila de Barrionuevo, with Mrs. Nina de Zúñiga, secretary Lourdes San Román de Pérez Wicht, pro-secretary Dora Llerena de Salinas, members José and Vicky de García Calderón, Juanita Gamero de Ruiz, Percy Lazo Chávez and Eduardo Villamar, psychologist Rosa Contreras and guests Lourdes Pérez Wicht SR and Manuel Holguín.

Tere Ruiz was the first social worker, and helped many years in the Home.

In 1996 Luis García Calderón assumed the presidency, succeeding Miguel Barrionuevo. Together with his wife Vicky Barreda de García Calderón , he  worked hard for many years as president of the Home and managed to maintain this work, thanks also to many residents from Arequipa who provided regular fees or donations. Some foreign benefactors were also involved, such as Mrs. Rosa Schnaufer, Martha Puch from France, Dominique from APPEL, LAFF. Through Lourdes Pérez Wicht some tourists got to know the Hogar and participated in this help, such as Elisabeth Schwall who founded Amigos del Hogar de Cristo in Germany, Lotta Wise, who founded Amigos del Hogar de Cristo in Sweden, and Gert Drost among others. An exceptional assistance was that of MIAMSI’s chaplain Fr. Modesto Garcia Madariaga SJ, who seeing the dedicated work of the institution, obtained a donation from Spain that allowed the purchase not only of the house at Bolivar 203, where Hogar de Cristo in Arequipa currently operates, but also the house at Villalba called “La Niña Maria”, dedicated to shelter abandoned girls. Fr. Paulete’s words “God will provide” were true.

A special mention goes to Nina Saona de Zúñiga who, for 3 years, went daily to organize, adapt and put into use the clothing store that was donated to the children of the Home.

Over the years, many people joined in this noble work, making Hogar de Cristo a true place of refuge for all those children in vulnerable situations.

In these 26 years of history, many boys and girls of the Home have become useful citizens to society, have formed homes and have been able to follow studies and get jobs in their technical or professional area. Great achievements without a doubt.

By Lourdes San Román