A Perspective on Pamplona Alta (Lima, Peru) - MEDLIFE

A Perspective on Pamplona Alta (Lima, Peru)

MEDLIFE has been working in Pamplona Alta since March 2010.  The majority of Mobile Clinics and MEDLIFE Fund projects in Peru serve the communities of Pamplona Alta.  Zenobia Gonsalves, our media intern in Lima, captured the shots below.


The valley floor of Pamplona Altra stretches towards the more developed center of Lima.  Government services and infrastructural projects such as paved roads, retention walls, water and sewage lines, and electrical grids are slowly creeping into the valley.  Hopefully, the families of Pamplona Alta will soon be receiving the services and structural development that their neighboring city-dwellers enjo
All photos Zenobia Gonsalves.  Text by Tommy Flint.

MEDLIFE has been working in Pamplona Alta since March 2010. The majority of MEDLIFE Service Learning Trips and community development projects in Lima, Peru serve the communities of Pamplona Alta.  Zenobia Gonsalves, our media intern in Lima, captured the shots below.




Located in the hills surrounding Lima, Pamplona Alta is a shantytown, or pueblo joven, characterized by conditions of extreme poverty and a lack of infrastructural development.  Now housing more than 20,000 residents, it was first populated in the 1990’s when massive numbers of Peruvians immigrated to Lima from the rural countryside — either displaced by the Shining Path terrorism that marked this decade, or looking for better opportunity in Peru’s capital city.




Dirt paths crisscross the valley walls, reaching the families who reside at the top — a long climb from the main avenue below.  Can you spot the three MEDLIFE staircases?




Prior to this flood of immigration, Pamplona Alta was occupied by other residents — pigs.  Pig farming remains to be one of the primary industries of the region.  Currently the small ranches, or chancherias, occupy the most expensive real estate on the valley floor, while the human population resides higher on the valley walls, with entire communities resting on steep, rocky slopes.  Typically owned by Peruvians living outside of Pamplona Alta, the chancherias contribute both an unpleasant odor and large amounts of waste to the valley.  Above, a pig rests in his shelter.




The pig pens of the chancherias mix with the housing for local families.




Though they may more closely resemble tool sheds than houses, entire families (and in some houses, multiple families) reside in these small shacks.  As evidence above, most houses rest on makeshift walls of loose rock — or worse, discarded car tires.  The potential earthquake damage instills great fear among residents, and as such the Peruvian government is attempting to add retention walls to Pamplona Alta’s steepest slopes.




Water and sewage lines haven’t reached most valley communities yet. Private water trucks deliver water daily, but this system is costly (water is 10 times more expensive than in areas with lines) and poses contamination risks from trucks and storage containers. Families away from truck-accessible roads must manually transport water bucket by bucket.

Without sewage lines, residents use open outhouses, leading to sewage seepage and high rates of parasitic infections, especially in children who often play in contaminated soil.




A rooster surveys the valley floor.  Many families raise hens to supplement their diet, or sell at market.




Minas 2000 got MEDLIFE’s inaugural stair project due to a pregnant woman’s fall, leading to a premature birth. MEDLIFE treated the child and, inspired, continued building stairs, supported by enthusiastic communities.




A recently completed staircase sports a MEDVIDA logo.




A free private high school contrasts starkly with painted houses below. Funded by a Catholic aid organization, it’s partially empty due to a lack of government-provided teaching staff.




A government-sponsored nursery adds color to the hillside.




Pamplona Alta’s valley extends toward Lima’s center. Infrastructure projects like roads, walls, water, sewage, and electricity are gradually reaching the valley. Hopefully, Pamplona Alta’s families will soon access the services enjoyed by neighboring city dwellers.

Photos by Zenobia Gonsalves. Text by Tommy Flint.