Successful Global Vigil with Peruvians
Presbyterians joined voices with Peruvian religious leaders and residents of the polluted city of La Oroya for a prayer vigil on World Water Day, March 22. The vigil demonstrated that, in the global church, we are many and yet we are one.
More than 150 faithful people, including religious and community leaders, gathered in Peru for a prayer vigil in a public park near central Lima, on a rainy evening, to pray together for peace and justice in La Oroya; opposing attempts to re-open a controversial multi-metal smelter in the small Andean Mountain city where more than 90 percent of the children are lead poisoned.
Many faith groups in Peru continue to call for the government to require the installation of the appropriate pollution controls before re-opening the plant in La Oroya, one of the most polluted sites in the world.
Recently, the lives of several people of faith working to protect the public health and the environment were threatened.
Representing Buddhist, Islamic, Evangelical, Jewish, B’hai, and Catholic traditions of faith, leaders offered prayers, songs, testimonies and messages of solidarity for the health of the people of La Oroya, for those who struggle to defend the rights of La Oroya, especially those whose lives have been threatened, and for the Congress of Peru who will make decisions that will both affect La Oroya and set a precedent for the nation.
Rosa Amaro, local resident of La Oroya and president of the Movement for the Health of La Oroya, gave a moving testimony, speaking to the grave dangers she and her family face from the contamination produced by the metallurgical complex.
Erlinda de los Torres, representative of the Filomenas Tomaira Pacsi, an NGO based in La Oroya, spoke to the ongoing threats that she and her co-workers face on almost a daily basis as they confront Doe Run Peru on behalf of justice for the residents.
Archbishop Pedro Barreto shared his displeasure with the present bill of law being debated by the Peruvian Congress.
The power of prayer is illustrated in the coming together of peoples and voices as they speak truth to power.
Mission Co-worker Jed Koball conveyed messages from the Presbyterian Church (USA), sharing words of solidarity from the North and emphasizing the advocacy being done by the Church in the United States to confront the injustice of La Oroya.
Presbyterians from the Presbytery of Giddings-Lovejoy joined voices with Peru at Westminster Presbyterian Church in St. Louis, holding their own vigil service, including prayers, scripture readings, a celebration of International Water Day, and a Commissioning Service for their delegation going to Peru in April.
Hudson River Presbyterians gathered at Stony Point Center, holding a liturgy that included prayer, Scripture, and responsive readings that lifted up care and concern for Jed Koball, Joining Hands, and their brothers and sisters in Peru. “We feel blessed to be partners in ministry with people around the world,” said Rhonda Kruse.
Several international Joining Hands’ partners expressed solidarity and others engaged in prayers alongside their Peruvian colleagues.
After moments of prayer and song, as the vigil came to a close in Peru, Conrado Olivera of the Red Uniendo Manos Peru, took the stage to share breaking news that the very bill of law in dispute had been archived and that new negotiations were beginning, giving further testimony that the power of prayer is illustrated in the coming together of peoples and voices as they speak truth to power.
You can continue to show your support by continuing to pray, raise awareness and advocate for the children of La Oroya and the people of Peru. Contact the Presbyterian Hunger Program to join with advocacy efforts already under way.
Peruvian Archbishop Faces New Death Threats
The lives of Archbishop Pedro Barreto and Paula Meza Porta were threatened for their commitment to sustainable development and environmental reform in the Montaro River Valley, where, both air and water pollution are the outcomes of multiple mining operations. Read more
CAMBIALO (Change it, or Building a Better Environment in La Oroya)
Two years ago, a group of children created an association called CAMBIALO to declare their rights as children, and stand against the contamination in La Oroya.
God’s Creation, Our Health: Taking Action Together
Following the lead of CAMBIALO, a group of concerned and active young people in Peru, in this four-session study, children will learn how to speak out about contamination of the environment and what it does to children’s health and how to take action to protect God’s creation and children’s health. Download curriculum
Send a Letter to the Peruvian Embassy
Write to the Ambassador of Peru to the U.S. to urge the government of Peru to protect the health of the people of La Oroya and to refuse to allow the multi-metal smelter there to resume operations until the Renco Group installs the appropriate pollution controls in accord with its environmental agreement. Download letter