Interview With Marilu Montoya: Former President of One of the Human Settlements in Peru - MEDLIFE

Interview With Marilu Montoya: Former President of One of the Human Settlements in Peru

During my time in Lima, Peru this April, I had the privilege of getting to visit some of the communities we serve, also known as the human settlements of Peru. One of them being Laderas de Amancaes. We walked through the roads of Amancaes as I took photos and notes on the information my co-workers gave me about the community. Rosali Vela, the team lead of marketing, mentioned that Marilu Montoya would be at the mobile clinic that day. She explained Marilu’s involvement in the foundations of this community and her time as the president of Laderas de Amancaes. So many of the wonderful things that have been achieved for this community are because of Marilu’s involvement and commitment to bettering her community. While we were packing up the clinic, we had the opportunity to chat with Marilu and ask her some questions about her work within Amancaes, her experience working with MEDLIFE, her approach to leadership, and the challenges residents face while living in these communities.

Marilu: “Hello, my name is Marilu Montoya. I arrived in Amancaes in 2018. We arrived together with the NGO MEDLIFE. At the beginning, there were no stairs, there were no access roads like we have now. Little by little, we have been working with the population. There was quite a bit of disunity because previously the leaders had cheated them, so to speak. But then little by little, people began to see the work and the change, and they managed to come together. Today, the population is quite united. We all work towards the same goal. We have worked here with the NGO on two staircases, a beautiful passage. In addition to our main road, which is paved, we have carried out many medical campaigns, psychology projects against domestic violence, which have helped us a lot, and we are truly grateful.”

Marilu (left) being interviewed by Rosali (right)

Rosali: “Marilu, I was going to ask you, what are those challenges that you consider people living in human settlements face? It could be water, it could be electricity, roads, but those challenges that you believe are the toughest, so to speak.”

Marilu: “The biggest challenge for us has been the issue of water. How to obtain water and also how to dispose of it. What we’ve changed is, we’ve seen the problem and looked for a solution. The solution we’ve implemented, regarding water, is that now we are supplied by the government, but since we don’t have sewage, previously the water was discharged onto the stairs, passages, or streets, but we’ve found a solution. We have green areas that we, with the same water we use, recycle to water our green areas. It was a big challenge because sometimes the population doesn’t quite understand, but now that they see the big trees that provide shade and everything, they understand.”

Rosali: “How did you learn to be a leader?”

Marilu: “First of all, you have to see the problem and make the change yourself. You have to show with an example that you can change. My goal was to create a better place to live for my children and all our children. You don’t necessarily have to live in a consolidated area where there are all the services, but you can also change here. That’s what I’ve done. And from my house, I’ve been teaching that you can do it. It doesn’t matter where you live, but how you live. Not because we live in the hill, you have to throw garbage on the street, or you don’t have to have plants. The main thing, I think, a good leader, what he has to do to guide his people is to guide with the example. Do it first, and then the rest follows you. And when you see the improvement, they are the ones who are determined to change things.”

The human settlements of Lima, Peru

Marilu is a prime example of the strength and inventiveness displayed by so many leaders within the communities of the human settlements of Peru. In the face of hardship, Marilu has been able to rise above and serve as an example to those around her for how to show resilience. It is a privilege to work alongside people like Marilu who have a vision for the future of their communities and are willing to fight against oppressive powers in order to achieve it.

Thank you Marilu for taking the time to speak with us! If you are inspired by this story and wish to assist communities in Latin America and Africa in receiving health care, education, and infrastructure, fill out the interest form below to get started or download our free SLT brochure.