The June 23 earthquake shook the city of Puno where the Mary Bloom Center is located, but did not inflict any damage. However, not too far away the devastation was immense. Centered off the Peruvian coast, the 8.1 earthquake created a tidal wave that took several lives. A woman in the coastal town of Camaná was with her infant daughter and four-year son when the tsunami struck. She held her baby tight but could not hold on to her son. His body was found on the beach the next day.
Other parts of southern Peru witnessed equally terrible tragedies: loved ones trapped under collapsing buildings and a great loss of property. Obst. Luz Marrón, director of the Mary Bloom Center, contacted the Peruvian Civil Defense to find out areas of greatest need. They told her about remote mountain villages in extreme distress. With their homes destroyed, villagers are exposed to the elements. In the southern hemisphere seasons are reversed, so they are now entering winter.
On the weekend following the earthquake, Holy Family Parish took up a second collection to help victims. $4,358 were received for Earthquake Relief. With guidance from Fr. Robert Hoffmann, M.M., on July 4 and 5 volunteers at the Mary Bloom Center prepared a small truckload of supplies to take to mountain villagers. The aid consisted in blankets and food items - canned tuna, rice, bread, powdered milk, oatmeal, macaroni, etc.
Friday, July 6, they left early, but the road conditions were so bad they did not arrive at the villages, but pitched a tent in an open area. A smaller earthquake struck that night. Luz told me she held her four-year-old daughter tight as they together said prayers. On Saturday morning, they continued in spite of slides and openings in the road. Arriving at the village of Cambruni, they learned they were the first to bring relief supplies. The people, whose adobe homes had been destroyed, were living in tents. Blankets were the most urgent need against the bitter cold of the Peruvian winter. Fortunately the blankets they brought were of thicker quality (about $12 each). After personally giving a blanket and food items to each family, they went to the community of Saylapa where the situation was equally desperate. Their third stop was the central town of Carumas where they completed the distribution. The people were most grateful. Luz told them a parish in Seattle donated the money. Holy Family parishioners will be remembered in their prayers.
Two other parishes (St. Brendan’s in Bothell and St. Rose in Longview) have also sent wonderful donations – a total of $3000 – through the Mary Bloom Center. Combined with what remains from Holy Family donations, a second delivery of assistance will be made to people who are suffering so much in those mountain areas. Even Luz’ little daughter Melany helped out. She brought her toys, which she gave to children there, as well as helping hand out bread rolls. In some ways what matters even more than the physical aid is knowing other people are concerned about them – and that we have a mutual support of prayer.
If you are able to help, please send a donation to:
Homily mentioning Earthquake
Report on Earthquake Relief to Sacuaya (October 22, 2001)
Pictures of Earthquake and Relief Effort
n Earthquake Relief to Sacuaya (October 22, 2001)