Sharing Life with Aguchita
Article by Mauricio Castillo Cortés,
Province of Peru.
The town of La Florida, where Sister Aguchita met her martyrdom, is located at the edge of the jungle in the region of Junín in Peru.
On the occasion of her beatification process, the Bishop of the Vicariate of San Ramón, Monsignor Gerardo Zerdin, requested that the Congregation returns to La Florida. He wished for the sisters to continue the mission interrupted by the terrorist violence suffered by Peru during the 90s and for them to become custodians of Aguchita's remains that were transferred to the church in La Florida.
After a process of discernment, we chose to return after 28 years of absence. We reopened the mission on March 21, 2018. Our first actions were to contact the small number of schools in the town to invite the children to attend workshops in crafts, life values and homework support (right). Next, we established the 'Agustina Rivas' women's promotion project to offer sewing lessons to women and adolescents for them to increase their income and improve their standard of living.
In 2019, with the support of the Swiss NGO BASAID, we created a pilot garden project (left) to grow vegetables and improve the diet of local families. However, due to the pandemic, the project was unable to begin until 2021, when it returned with great enthusiasm, benefiting 15 families who received support to cultivate their home gardens.
The children in the area encountered great difficulty accessing their classes online when lessons were suspended due to the pandemic. This situation led us to request support from the NGO BASAID to roll out a project offering educational support and basic IT skills, which has enabled us to try to make up for the loss of face-to-face lessons. A small computer room and library were also created, donated by the Saint Mary Euphrasia School. An average of 50 children have attended during this period. These children have also been able to access nutritious meals.
Through a cooperation agreement between GSIF and GSS Toronto, the "Economic Empowerment of Women at Risk in Peru" project has been created. This project includes workshops in sewing, cooking, and baking as well as in finance and psycho-spirituality. This training encourages the women to set up micro-enterprises. The outcome has been that many project participants have established their own small businesses, enabling them to generate income for their families.
The women learn new skills during the bakery lessons
In life, Aguchita always sought to improve the welfare of those most in need. Now that she is close to the Lord, she continues to enable us to experience her beneficial help for this mission. It is to her that we attribute these projects that will benefit the girls, women and children in the area.
This year, we plan to provide nutritious meals for school-age children and adolescents from the Scormes indigenous community who come to attend the study center; they walk for approximately 5 kilometers through rain or scorching sun and suffer from malnutrition. Thanks to the support of friends, this project that we named "Sharing Life with Aguchita" has become a reality.
As we journey with the people of La Florida, we strongly feel God's presence and the intercession of Saint Mary Euphrasia, Saint John Eudes, and Aguchita. We trust that this mission will grow in strength and continue to be blessed by our Good Shepherd.