How the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America reaches out to neighbors across the globe:
Like many South American capital cities, Lima has enjoyed an increase in tourism, and with it an urban renewal that celebrates the cultural appeal of the city center. But as you move out into the city's perimeters, the colonial architecture and museum galleries give way to desert shantytowns. These arid, rough and tumble villages are home to half of the city's population. Many families are transplants from mountain highlands. They've come to the city looking for work -- and have been unsuccessful in finding it.
Many families try to eke out a living as subsistence farmers, but because of the unpredictable climate, drought often makes this difficult. Extreme poverty is the norm in these shantytowns -- and unfortunately for the children, malnourishment often comes part and parcel with the lifestyle. It is here that the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, in partnership with the ILEP (Peruvian Evangelical Lutheran Church), has opened soup kitchens at four congregations in Lima.
Focusing on children between the critical ages of 2 and 12 year old, the kitchens provide a glass of milk for each school child every day, in addition to assisting the cafeteria programs with resources and nutritious meals, school aid, and Sunday School bible study activities.
Focusing on children between the critical ages of 2 and 12 years old, the kitchens provide a glass of milk for each school child every day, in addition to assisting the cafeteria programs with resources and nutritious meals, school aid, and Sunday School Bible study activities. The free meals, and at the minimum, a glass of milk, provide enough protein to stave off malnutrition and the danger of contracting tuberculosis during the children's formative years.
While there are other soup kitchens in the poorest part of the city, the kitchens and social services provided in part by the ELCA focus primarily on serving children -- who often are the last to eat when the family lacks enough food. Many of the children who benefit are the sons and daughters of single mothers who work all day long to try to keep their families together, sheltered, and fed.
To date, the project has changed the lives of 210 families in Lima.