In the face of growing poverty, by the year 2010 we will be a network which contributes to the construction of alternatives for holistic and sustainable human development and to the empowerment of civil society, as we work together globalizing our solidarity.
Joining Hands Against Hunger Peru (JHAH-PERU) is an ecumenical and democratic network established by 20 organizations and churches distributed all over Peru. It is a movement of solidarity that accompanies and strengthens participatory processes of holistic development in order to improve the quality of life of the most economically disadvantaged sectors of our population in the face of all forms of exclusion. We propose to do this through proposals and programs of local economic development, environmental justice and human rights, weaving among ourselves a shared spirituality.
The mission of JHAH-PERU is to improve the quality of life of the most economically disadvantaged. To carry out this mission and vision Uniendo Manos has established three commissions to concentrate on three axes of concerns:
- Commission on Economic Development focused on fair trade/just trade issues;
- Commission on Human Rights focused on the Truth Commission Report and civic education;
- Commission on Environmental Justice focused on children's health in La Oroya and other mining towns.
Our Network includes institutions which work exclusively with women (two institutions), indigenous persons (five), rural farmers and herders (two), urban youth (two). Four churches, two community-based groups, and nine non-governmental organizations (NGO's) make up our membership.
Up to this point, the network has been an informal association of institutions. Two of our campaigns have revealed the need to have official standing in relationship to the government, thus the network held its "Constitutional Assembly" as prescribed by law on February 6, 2004.
The Network has published its socio-economic analysis of Peruvian society, which found that the current processes of economic and cultural globalization have had extremely negative impact on Peru's poorest families in three primary areas:
- Environment: The weakened national government cannot defend the environment in the face of the growing economic and political power of transnational corporations. Identifying the environmental health scandal in La Oroya as a prime example, the Network is working with other civil society groups to bring pressure upon the Doe Run Company to reduce lead, cadmium and arsenic levels in the environment.
- Economic development: The terms governing trade between Peru and the United States (its major trading partner) are increasingly unfair and will take a turn for the worse with the passage of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) legislation. The network is opening up a "fair trade corridor" between Missouri and Peru to raise awareness about the terms of trade and provide a market for poor Peruvian artisans.
- Human rights: Poverty and ignorance combined to make Peru's poorest citizens the cannon fodder in the 12 year long conflict between Government Forces and the Shining Path Liberation Army and other guerilla movements. The network is attempting to connect poor communities with the resources available through the National Truth and Reconciliation Commission and raise their awareness so that the past does not repeat itself.