The boat was made out of big oil bottles and wood. It was crudely fashioned but the homemade lifeboat was their only hope of rescue from the flood
On March 27, the rivers in northern Peru broke their banks after weeks of rain, flooding vast areas especially in the Piura region. In the middle of rising flood waters, 14 children and two tutors from a local Compassion project became trapped on two roofs next to each other. They couldn’t swim and rescue teams couldn’t reach them.
Noemi was one of the tutors and she remembers, “I was very scared because the water grew very fast. I took nine children with me and their mums. We don’t know how to swim, so we climbed on the roofs saving our children first. It was a desperate moment because the help didn’t arrived and our children were crying.
But I never lost my hope because my almighty God is faithful and I knew He would come to rescue us.
They were still trapped as the sun set, forcing them to spend the night exposed to the elements. On Tuesday morning, the floodwaters dropped slightly. Three men from the community and the local partnership facilitator made a boat out of big oil bottles and wood. They paddled to the roof where the children and tutors were and rescued them.
The rest of the community evacuated the area with parents carrying children in buckets and pans. Government agencies reached affected areas and continued the evacuation. Praise God these children were able to be rescued and reunited with their families. Thank you to everyone who prayed with us during this time and who donated to rebuild homes and livelihoods after the floods.
Around 700,000 people lost their homes and 94 people died from the floods. In the aftermath, Compassion has provided affected children and their families with food, mosquito nets, water, medicine, clothing and sheets of plastic to temporarily cover their homes. Water pumps have also been distributed to help facilitate the removal of water from homes and buildings.
Yahayra is a Compassion-supported child who has been impacted. “I feel very sad because we have always lived here and seeing my house destroyed, my bedroom, my bed destroyed, it breaks my heart but we must go on. We can’t do anything now; I love my family and I prefer having my family safe. Thank God, we have a place to be safe for the moment and that’s my project.”
In the midst of tragedy, stories of hope often keep us going. But the road to rebuild communities is a long one. Families will need emotional support as they process the loss of their homes and their loved ones. Whole communities have been moved until the waters recede.
There is a lot of work to be done. It will be hard and it will take time, but we stand in faith that these communities will be restored.