Peruvians help neighbors after fire

Children carry wood from a boat to the building site for the houses. — David Moreno Children carry wood from a boat to the building site for the houses. — David Moreno

An outpouring of $13,000 in donations and grants is helping a Mennonite church in Peru rebuild five houses ravaged by a fire Aug. 29.

Local and global communities quickly offered help after the fire started in Iglesia Cristiana Menonita Iquitos Perú (Iquitos Mennonite Church) and consumed the houses on Isla Iquitos, a small island near the main island where Iquitos is located.

The five families left homeless by the fire included 13 adults and 12 children. They are living in tents while the houses are being built.

Pastor David Moreno said the Mennonite church is grateful for the donations, which they see as a sign of compassion and solidarity. The posts for the new houses are in place, and the roofs are in process.

“We want to move very fast, as the river is beginning to rise, and these families need a place to live,” he wrote. “When the houses are built, if there are funds left over, we will use them to start building the church building. The children and young people are gathering in the street and neighboring houses, all very excited, waiting for the reconstruction of the church.”

Elena Satalaya, a Mennonite Mission Network worker, reported local organizations gave dishes, a stove, chairs, pots, pans and other items so that, less than a month after the fire, ministries with children and youth could resume in one of the houses built on stilts.

“Last week at the children’s ministry, Adela Cainamari, one of the young persons in the program and a victim of the fire, told me, ‘The houses are going to be so beautiful, and they’re advancing so quickly!’ ” she wrote. “I was glad to hear that from someone who will be living in one of the houses.

“Two of the women also told me that their houses will be ready to move into soon and that they can’t wait to be out of their tents and back into a house.”

MMN director for Latin America Linda Shelly said it was encouraging to see the church and community work together to rebuild the houses.

“We are grateful for the generous donations that are helping to pay for this work and also recognize the many people in Iquitos who shared food and material goods,” she said.

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