Peru is famous for many unique attributes: Generally accepted as the ‘home’ of the potato plant, Peru boasts over 3,000 varieties. It is the largest producer in the world of two other plants: asparagus and cocaine. See http://facts.randomhistory.com/peru-facts.html Lightshine has sponsored over 50 trips of teams and individuals to Peru. Along the way, locals have told us:
-Peru has a population of over 30 million
-About one-third live in poverty, measured by earnings of less than $3/ day per working adults.
-It is a land of extremes: flooded jungles and arid deserts/ ocean beaches and 59 peaks over 19,000’
-Home of the Inca Indians, Peru boasts 3 languages: Spanish, Aymara, and Quechua.
-In the 1980s civil war in Peru caused over 70,000 deaths, resulting in a crisis for ‘orphans’
Lightshine started its work in January 2006, working with the Peruvian Consulate in Seattle Washington to provide aid to Peru’s government run system of orphanages: “Aldeas Infantiles” (Villages for Children). Towards the end of 2006 Lightshine’s board decided to focus on one orphanage, selecting Torre Fuerte, then a small girls’ home in Arequipa. The clear majority of the girls who have come to Torre Fuerte are from native South American roots. Some spoke Andean languages (e.g. quechua).
From 2007 – 2012 Lightshine worked to protect and provide compete care for the growing work at Torre Fuerte. Each year Lightshine from 2007 – 2010, Lightshine increased its role, eventually becoming the primary financial sponsor and innovator of services for the girls: housing, food, clothing, education, and counseling for emotional and spiritual wounds.
Lightshine’s board (2007) consisted of two Eklunds (Paul and his son, Ben, a realtor in the Greater Seattle area); Paul Moulton (Costco Senior Management), Joe Barnes (former producer of Fox News), and Seattle tax attorney, Roger Lageschulte. Later two physicians became board members: Dr. Rafael Gonzalez-Vizoso (a native Spaniard) and Dr. Oscar Bailon (born in Peru, but educated at Johns Hopkins near Baltimore). Eklund’s oldest son, Bruce, has provided assistance over the years, especially in technological advice.
From 2010 – 2012 Torre Fuerte diversified its fund raising, becoming more sustainable financially. Eklund, and his wife (Grisela) assisted other organizations in Peru related to development of care for abandoned children. In 2013 Lightshine was presented with an opportunity to fill an unique niche in Peru: working with a variety of resources to provide individual water filters to families in remote villages of Peru. Lightshine was provided an ‘invitation’ by the government of Peru to assist with selected project for water treatment for the ‘poorest of the poor’. Lightshine has partner with Seattle University (engineering), Merinsac (a Peruvian company who manufacturer filters), Rotary International and the Parroquia Espiritu Santo in Manchay, Peru to provide filters to hundreds of families. Parroquia Espiritu Santo administers funds to provide medicines to children who are already infected with parasites.
In 2007 Lightshine offered to sponsor an international conference at Pontificia University in Lima. Lightshine’s founder (Eklund), traveled to Scandinavia to interview Dr. Niels Rygaard, a psychologist and university professor in Denmark. Rygaard had authored books on the treatment of emotional disorders common among orphans and abandoned children. Eklund had found a copy in French of a Rygaard classic: “L’enfant Abondonne” (the abandoned child), later published in English as “Severe Attachment Disorder”. Eminently qualified, Dr. Rygaard has worked for the United Nations and the European Union, tackling problems that adoptive parents often face when raising children who have been abandoned and traumatized.
Lightshine brought Dr. Rygaard to Peru for two purposes: To keynote a conference for over 300 health care professionals at Pontificia University, and to train the staff and house parents at Torre Fuerte orphanage in Arequipa, Peru. Rygaard speaks Danish, English and French and Eklund’s ability to communicate in Swedish, Spanish and English allowed the two to work together to accomplish both goals. The former vice president of Peru (Lourdes Mendoza del Solar) endorsed the conference, providing her support in many ways. The conference was an amazing success enjoyed by Peruvians and many visiting from other lands. The theme was “Ninos en Riesco” (Children at Risk), as Peru sought to find answers for its growing population of street kids.
Torre Fuerte had children in danger or being removed by the government from its care…. Not from neglect, but because of the difficulty in providing treatment to girls crippled by attachment disorder. Rygaard’s input provided the turning point!! Eklund, a lawyer license in Hawaii and Washington, requested the court in Peru to represent one of the girls threatened with ‘deportation’. Promising the court to provide a ‘personal guarantee’ for the well-being of one of the girls (“Gaby”), Eklund convinced the judge to let Gaby stay at Torre Fuerte. In August 2016 Gaby will turn 18. She has blossomed into a very ‘normal’ teen-ager, leaning to develop friendships, close relationship and to achieve very high marks in school.
Lightshine completed its role, providing funds and expertise to assist Torre Fuerte to develop into a model group home. Taking Rygaards ‘safe – base’ model, found Dario Quintana has developed Torre Fuerte to become a “family” of many sisters! Torre Fuerte continues to function as a leading example of a model home for abandoned children. (Add Link to Torre Fuerte??): Jim & Paul Discuss
In 2015, Lightshine was invited to partner with DOXA, to develop a healthy ‘family-oriented’ orphanage in Baja, Mexico and to assist DOXA with Lightshine’s other ‘specialty’… facilitating teams of construction workers in the building of ‘homes for the homeless’ in Mexico. The DOXA – Lightshine goal is to replicate the model for an orphanage which was nurtured in Peru at Torre Fuerte, selecting a target orphanage in Baja (and later replicating the same model in other orphanages in Mexico).
The genesis of ‘Living Water’ in Peru is nothing short of miraculous!! While recovering from some health issues, Lightshine’s director (Eklund) was ordered by his doctor to ‘avoid high altitudes’ (Arequipa is 8,000 feet!). Eklund returned to Lima (sea level) to represent clients in legal matters.
While in Lima, Eklund was contacted by a number of persons interested in improving Peru’s sordid water issue. Hearing reports of many child deaths due to water borne diseases (usually caused by parasites) Lightshine began the ‘learning curve’ of helping in Peru in a new way: purifying the water for children (of the poorest families).
The Pervian Consul General in Seattle (Miguel Angel Velasquez) introduced Lightshine to a priest in the Manchay area (Padre Jose Chuquillanqui). He offered the wisdom and facilities to help administer a ‘point of use’ technology that very poor families could afford and use. Padre Jose also suggested creating a fund for purchase and distribution of medicine to rid children of parasites which were already inhabiting and infecting their young bodies.
With the assistance of the Sunrise Rotary Club (Lima, Miraflores), Lightshine initiated two pilot projects: one in Ancash (Huaraz) and another north of Lima. The Washington (state) Rotary Club from Omak-Okanogan contributed generously to the 2nd (Lima) project, even sending a club representative to meet the local people. Former Sunrise Rotary President, Sean Walsh, introduced Lightshine to Merinsac (a company in Peru who makes filtration equipment). Walsh had already administered point of use projects sponsored by Rotary.
Technological support for the pilot (and Manchay) projects was provided by Seattle University Engineering department. Lightshine brought water samples from various locations in Peru to a laboratory in Seattle. Seattle University arrange testing and analysis of the water samples, then advising differing filtration techniques (depending on the issues present in the water). Professor Phil Thompson visited Peru in March, 2015, specifically surveying the situation in Manchay: no power, no sanitation, less than 2 inches of rainfall/year, and a ‘twilight zone’ water delivery system.
In the upper reaches of Manchay, tens of thousands of people receive their weekly water by truck. Typically, each family has a plastic garbage can that is filled by the water truck. The water comes from rivers and ponds/lakes that are not guaranteed to be safe and clean. Animal feces may be found in the water sources. Parasites abound. The Manchay residents boil water, usually on a small portable stoves (using scraps of wood). Professor Thompson visited Manchay, recommending a simple, 5 gallon portable filter that Merinsac could produce in Peru. Lightshine obtained a test filter in Peru, bringing it to the Seattle University engineering lab for testing.
Paul and Grisela Eklund, Sean Walsh, and others visited the many families receiving the filters. Lightshine representatives taught the local families how to care for and maintain their new filters. Padre Jose made certain that the local schools also had filters (so that the children could be protected from other sources of parasites). Grisela, a native of Jalisco (Mexico) notices that most of the recipients of the water filters were single moms with small children. She realized that Lightshine could help with literacy and spiritual values. Lighthshine began to provide illustrated “Childrens’ Bibles”, encouraging mother and child to read together.
‘Colina’ is the Spanish word for ‘hill’. Manchay consists of many Colinas. Each colina has a community or neighborhood, usually with a school and several small stores (tiendas). At the base areas of each colina and in the ‘lowlands’ there is often electricity, and sometimes sanitation. Water may be found in public reservoirs. But as one proceeds up each colina (hill), power, water and sanitation decrease, as poverty and crime increase. Each filter that Lightshine provides comes with a sticker telling the story of Jesus, promising LIVING WATER to all of us (Gospel of John, Chapter 4).