When Victor Aguero arrived to the community of SeÃ±or de Lureen, Lima Peru, in 1991 he was homeless. He had come to Lima from Ankash, a small city outside of Huaraz, hoping to visit family for the holidays and live with them, but they had rejected him. He had nothing but some clothes and an agreement to look after someone else’s land. The land had a small hole, where the earth sunk down just enough to make a shelter. Victor, who had nowhere else to go, added a roof and unstable walls; he made that hole his home.
The home Victor made was better than nothing, but it caused him a lot of problems. He wasn’t able to construct a sturdy floor for it. During the incessant drizzle that characterizes the winter in Lima, the hole would fill with water, covering everything in mud, trapping moisture and creating a humid breeding ground for bacteria that led to respiratory illnesses among other health problems. Sometimes it got so full of water, Victor had to sleep in the streets to avoid sleeping in the water.
His family does not support him and has rejected him, “One Christmas I went to my dads house… They treated me like a rat, like a thief,” Victor said. “They told me ‘bathe yourself.’ They watched me closely, telling me ‘don’t you look at our stuff like that,’ like I was a thief, ‘Don’t take anything.’ I wasn’t allowed to stay there.”
When he was younger, Victor said his family sold him to work in the home of a professor living in Huaraz as a servant. Victor said he was physically abused there, so he escaped. The police brought him to a church where he says he finally was helped. When he arrived in SeÃ±or Lureen he was truly alone, he had to fend for himself in a city he didn’t know.
Victor works doing other people’s laundry and hauling bags of product in the local market. He was born with an undiagnosed but obvious mental disability, and had trouble finding work doing much else.
His community took note of the hardship in Victor’s life; they saw his collapsing and unsafe home, they saw that some days he could not eat, they saw that he worked hard to support himself, and they saw that he came back in tears from every visit to his family. They did not ignore what they saw.
When Victor got the news that he was being kicked off of the land his little hole was on, his community banded together to help him.
“Someone had to do something, he couldn’t be left to live that way,” said Ana Solice, one of Victor’s neighbours. “When someone is in need we come together as a community to support them.” The community decided to hold a pollada, essentially a cookout, to raise money to build Victor a home.
The home they built him is much better than the hole he was living in before. He lives a much better life now. His bed is lifted off of the ground with a mattress. Someone donated him a radio so he can listen to his favourite music, which he listens to all day. “Radio Q-Q-Qumbia!” he yelled happily as he cranked the music and danced.
When MEDLIFE brought a Mobile Clinic to Victor’s community, Ana Solice made him come with her because she remembered Victor had been complaining about persistent stomach pain for a long time. We gave him medication for gastritis, and we are coordinating with Ana to get him medical tests to make sure he doesn’t have something more serious.
The community and MEDLIFE both know we can do more together to help Victor. The community is planning to hold another pollada to construct a church. In the back, they plan to put a place to wash clothes that they will let Victor run all on his own. That way, he can make enough money to live more comfortably. MEDLIFE is working on plans to improve Victor’s housing situation. Working together with the community, we know we can make a big difference in Victor’s life.