In the heart of Lima, two donated and dedicated mobile ambulance units work tirelessly to provide intervention. Now, the ambulances have reached over 15,000 people, within 9 years, throughout the Huaycán slum.
Huaycán, a slum based in the suburbs of east Lima, in the urban district of Ate was established when people migrated from various provinces of Peru, as well as from children of migrants who were looking for better life opportunities in 1984. Then in the 90’s people from the Andean Highland migrated to escape political violence. Now Huaycán and is people are struggling and are subject to many health-related illnesses.
‘Today, Huaycán has a population of near 144,000 inhabitants and is still growing, as new migrants arrive each year. The populations are living in extreme poverty, and the most vulnerable to social, environmental and health risks, are located in these hillsides, where the project operates’, highlighted Samusocial Peru.
The ambulance project came about when Samusocial Peru, a French organization (present in Huaycan since 2005) teamed up with Children of Peru Foundation to concentrate its efforts in Huaycan, one of the Pueblos Jovenes (poor neighborhoods) that surround the capital, Lima.
‘Samusocial organize their actions around three main missions: medical assistance, psychological support and preventive education’, commented Children of Peru Foundation.
The children of Huaycan and their families face many medical and psychological problems, such as: family violence, sexual abuse, alcoholism, depression, and respiratory and intestinal diseases. Malnutrition is also an issue for many children there.
‘Samusocial Perú focuses its intervention on extremely vulnerable populations, through prevention, care, community awareness and network strengthening actions’, continued Children of Peru Foundation.
Since the project was formed in 2005, two mobile units (ambulances, one of which was bought by the Children of Peru foundation in 2006) have been going daily to Huaycan to deliver immediate medical assistance.
The mobile unit is composed of a social worker, a nurse and a driver. They journey the neighborhood in order to care for and listen to people in social and medical emergency situations.
‘Each Mobile Aid Team goes daily to the remote area of Huaycán, from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. to bring health care services closer to the community’s most excluded households’, reported Samusocial Perú.
The teams search, mainly for sick children, to provide first aid medical services and therefore act as a first link in the emergency and social inclusion chain of action.
‘Samusocial Peru does a great deal of social work, educating parents in basic hygiene concepts, helping dysfunctional families and trying to help children suffering from parental abuse’, noted a resident from Huaycan.The domiciliary visits of Mobile Teams have three core missions: medical assistance, psychological support and preventive education.
They have reported that the medical care aspect assesses and provides care to vulnerable people in need of medical emergency, whereas the Psycho-social support offers structured social interventions. Here teams assess cases to find solutions that range from guidance towards local institutions networks and family mediation, to formalization of social rights.
‘Through medical or psycho-social emergencies and contact with the community, the mobile teams reach the most vulnerable and, often, those who remain hidden: children victim of family violence or in situation of abandonment, drug use or adolescent pregnancy’, emphasized Samusocial Perú.
Their project report also emphasizes that one of the main focuses of the project is Preventive education. They have highlighted that mobile teams develop a health and prevention education action for populations that, due to the social, family and sanitary exclusion they suffer, are not covered by common right programs.
Particularly, the teams inform children, adolescents and their mothers about the social and health risks they have to face, providing advice on hygiene, nutrition, and sexual and reproductive health, enabling them to take actions to control their health.
The report continues by highlighting that the Mobile teams also carry out sensitization and prevention campaigns in the remote areas of Huaycán. These include nutrition campaigns and campaigns against diseases, such as: gastrointestinal diseases, acute respiratory infections and tuberculosis.
In addition to the mobile ambulances they have established a Social Risk Prevention Center of Samusocial Perú which aims to: ‘strengthen the work of mobile teams through care, awareness and protection actions for the most vulnerable populations of Huaycán, especially victims of family violence’.
‘The center provides medical, social and psychological care and advice to people in situations of extreme vulnerability, which is fantastic’, highlighted another resident.
It is notably that over half of Samusocial Peru’s interventions are directed to violence against women and children. Appropriately, Samusocial Perú has also developed a number of actions in this regard: Care for women victims of violence under serious risk; Community-awareness workshops on family violence prevention; and Strengthening of network actions.
‘Workshops facilitate the strengthening of participants’ capacities to face violent situations in their environment. Later, empowered women act as a link between the community and Samusocial Perú to detect and provide counsel to victims of violence’, concluded Children of Peru.
The mobile aid teams continue to work daily in these remote regions, providing: medicine, support, guidance and most importantly dignity to those that have no where else to turn.
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