Following an earthquake (of a 6.3 magnitude originating from nearby Ica) and even more recent tremor, some of the community in Villa El Salvador were a little shaken. The Palomino family we are living with told us about the dangers of many of the self-built houses around the area, which may not withstand a strong earthquake should one occur.

Despite their underlying concerns, the locals have kept their spirits high and continue to welcome us into their organisations and provide us with as much as experience as we hope to gain through helping them.

Last week saw the 20th anniversary of assassinated community leader and activist María Elena Moyano, a figure who fought for peace and justice for the people of Villa El Salvador.

At age 24 she was elected president of the Federación Popular de Mujeres de Villa El Salvador (Women’s Federation of Villa El Salvador). Her responsibilities included fighting for women’s equality, children’s wellbeing, Comedores* (soup kitchens), health committees, the Vaso de Leche program (glass of milk), income-generating projects, and committees for basic education.

Her legacy still remains and her work has had a lasting impact on the people. She inspired future leaders of Villa El Salvador to maintain positive development within the community.

Last Wednesday as we stood and watched the community come together under a marquee, the evidence of the spirit of a united Villa El Salvador hit us at one of the most touching occasions yet. Speeches and the release of Doves signifying peace were followed by a chant ‘Los Peruanos queren paz, terrorismo nunca más’ meaning ‘Peruvians want peace, no more terrorism’. The gathering ended with a party full of singing and dancing. Watch our video of the event:

The event was such a positive experience - another in what has, so far, been a plethora of valuable experiences. The community spirit is something which I will definitely be taking back home to share.

*Comedores: a system of community kitchens set up by María Elena Moyano during the 1980s. These were in response to people’s ability to afford food to eat; the simple idea being that everyone contributed a small amount of money, so that food could be purchased in bulk. This scheme is still running, popular as ever in Villa El Salvador. The same model exists around various countries in South America.

Blog by Alana Barlow. Photo: Women watching the celebrations during the anniversary event in memory of María Elena Moyano. Videos and photos by Lana Jade Johnson and Aimee Warren.