55 people from eight families are now living in the first houses of the “Mitso Esperanza – Villa San Vicente de Paúl”, the St Vincent de Paul Village in Puerto Eten, Peru. This ambitious project is part of the “13 Houses” Campaign. The Vincentian Family has opened and blessed the first batch of houses of the 250 they hope to build over the next few years. Among the families now enjoying their new homes are several Venezuelan refugees, vulnerable and homeless people, as well as women who have experienced violence. As an indication of the Vincentian inspiration behind this project, this first batch of houses bears St. Louise de Marillac’s name.

The Vincentian Family of Lambayeque, in Northwest Perú, has promoted this project through their non-profit “Color Esperanza – Voluntad de Ayudar”, which sees the collaboration of the Congregation of the Mission, the Society of St Vincent de Paul, AIC, VMY, alumnae of Vincentian schools and local parishioners. Local authorities and members of Color Esperanza attended the opening and blessing ceremony, as well as the local priest and several CM fathers. Yasmine Cajuste, FHA Project Development Manager, was also present and made a short speech. Our volunteer ambassador, father Ricardo Cruz Huamán CM, was crucial in the initial stages of project development. Currently, he is stationed in Pisco, south of the capital, where he continues to help the poorest of the poor.

This first batch of houses is on a 2.5-hectare plot of land donated to Color Esperanza. Sanitation works have now been carried out, and the village has been connected to water and electricity services. The whole plot is now ready for the next stages of the project. Each of the new houses has two bedrooms, a kitchen-dining room, a bathroom, a space for laundry and access to water and electricity 24/7. “Me and my family are truly grateful to God because, through the good heart of the Vincentian Family, we have been selected for this house where my family can be comfortable and safe”, said Ruth Elena Mendoza, who will be leaving with her family in one of the new houses. Until now, the families were living in temporary shelter, also provided by the project, which included a large room housing 20 people.

Housing is only one of the three components of the “Mitso Esperanza – Villa San Vicente de Paúl” project. The other two focus on providing training and employment workshops and support with spiritual and personal development. The goal is to enable the new residents to generate income so that the project can be self-sufficient and sustainable, a clear example of Vincentian systemic change.

The Vincentian Family of Lambayeque has not only been working to complete the “Villa San Vicente de Paúl”. Through their association, Color Esperanza, during the worst moments of the Covid19 pandemic, they ensured their soup kitchen remained open to continue serving the needs of those affected, as well as housing migrants and homeless people to protect them from the pandemic.