Thursday, February 4, 2010

Returning to La Chureca

The Child Sponsorship team hit the ground running upon our return to La Chureca in early January 2010. An increase in sponsors and the graduation of several saludable (healthy!) children allowed us to add four new children to our program. As more sponsors and positions become available, we are seeking to enter even more children in February, especially younger children and siblings of current program participants. Currently, we offer each participant a monthly supply of oatmeal, milk, and vitamins, and our goal is to alleviate undernourishment in La Chureca.

Coming back, I immediately noticed the striking progress being made on the Spanish MegaProject to transform La Chureca. When the Spanish Vice President María Teresa Fernández de la Vega stopped to view La Chureca on her tour of Central/South America, she was greatly impacted by the horror of people living and working in trash heaps. Her personal commitment for change encouraged the government of Spain to commit 30 million Euros (the equivalent of 45 million USD) to bring dignity to the people of La Chureca. The Spanish government has had a noticeable presence in Chureca and has held many meetings with community members and NGOs to discuss how to create a holistic solution to the problems faced by those dwelling in La Chureca. According to a 2008 article by William Grigsby Vergara, the solution involves closing down the dump, creating an alternative recycling system, and providing housing alternatives for the residents of Chureca. I have personally witnessed how Chureca is “closing down” - the once heaped trash has been transformed into a flatter plain, dirt roads have been created on the neighborhood/trash divide, and signs declaring the Spanish equivalent of “Authorized Personnel Only” are posted next to entrances to the trash. This has not kept any of the Churequeros from continuing their work in the trash, but it has provided a visual to confirm that action is indeed underway.

Read more about The "New" Chureca: From Grace to Human Dignity.

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