For the most up to date information please see our AW Newsletter Autumn 2016
The Blue House, or Azul Wasi as it is called in Peru, is a project that we have been supporting at St Andrew’s since June 2006, helping to create and support a home for street children in Cusco, Peru.
The project started as a dream of Alcides, a policeman from Cusco who had spent many years working with vulnerable children in the city. He wanted to build a home where some of these children could grow up feeling secure and happy and learn the skills they need to stand a better chance of being employed and not living a life on the streets.
In 2005, Mary and Chris Pountain’s daughter, Fran Talavera, was living in Peru for a year and worked with Alcides to get the project started. St Andrew’s has helped the project grow from a field to a happy family home for up to 20 young children.
It was really exciting when we phoned Alcides just before Christmas in 2007 to hear the sounds of lots of excited children celebrating the opening of Azul Wasi as the home for the first seven children who had just moved in.
There are currently 17 children living there, 14 boys and the three daughters of Anastasia, the cook, and they all attend the village school. At Azul Wasi, they live as a family and are learning the basic skills for living, helping with the cooking and doing their own washing.
When they arrived they were very withdrawn, insecure and had poor levels in reading and writing. They had to adjust to a completely new situation and living together as a new family. Azul Wasi has had its ups and downs but the children are very happy there and are making great progress. The children continue to work hard at school and with their homework. They are doing well, both academically and in sport — many of them are keen footballers, and several of the children have come at the top of their classes this year. Last year one of the older boys was the Head Boy at the school. The Blue House is certainly making a big difference to their lives and giving them real opportunities for the future.
The aim is to create a programme of training in various skills so that the children can have a better chance of getting a job when they leave the house. They have taken part in training workshops in a variety of areas – eg how to make and use compost, bread-making, creating a CV, IT skills etc. Six of the children took a year-long cookery course at a gastronomy training centre, Inca Educa. These opportunities have been funded by LAFF (Latin American Foundation for the Future), a UK charity with a member of staff based in Cusco, who have been long-time supporters of Azul Wasi.
Some of the older boys have now left and are having to lead independent lives, using the education and the training they have received at Azul Wasi. It is not always easy for them, but they have ambition and Azul Wasi will always be their family.
New buildings are built when money and manpower are available. The new brick-built dormitories protect them better from the cold winds and rain, and the new dining room is a great improvement.
The fruit trees which were planted right at the beginning are flourishing and the boys all help to grow crops of maize, potatoes and other plants. The original greenhouse blew down in high winds but a larger, more solid greenhouse is currently under construction. They have a number of animals which they help to care for, including dogs, cats, chickens and ducks as well as a parrot. They no longer need to buy so many eggs!
How St Andrew’s supports Azul Wasi
The people of St Andrew’s Church first became involved in raising money for Azul Wasi in June 2006 after a presentation to the congregation at one of the church’s regular Gift Days.
The congregation of St Andrew’s has continued to support the project enthusiastically through individual donations and various fundraising events at the church. The PCC supports the project with an annual donation of £1000 and altogether the money raised so far has amounted to over £76,000.
Initially St Andrew’s raised money towards the building and setting up of the project, but since January 2009, we decided to send a regular monthly sum from St Andrew’s specifically towards the food. We are currently sending £725 per month. This amounts to £8,700 for the year, which is raised by individual donations and through various fundraising events.
A number of people have committed to making a regular monthly donation. Having these regular monthly donations – however small – is really helping towards the sustainability of the project. Knowing that we can rely on these donations and not simply on organising fundraising events helps us to feel confident that we can continue to support the children at Azul Wasi.
Our donation is sent out to Alcides via LAFF along with their money, and they pay the bank charges, so every single penny that we raise goes directly to Azul Wasi to provide the food.
Last year in response to the fact that many of the children had dental problems we held some very popular Pudding and Wine evenings and as a result were able to fund a dental check and treatment for all the children.
Recently we have made an extra donation of £1000 after a very successful year of fundraising and donations. £500 of this is being used to set up a medical fund. This has already paid for the operation one of the boys needed on his hand, and for any further treatment he needs, with the remainder being available to cover the cost of medical expenses as they a occur. The other £500 has been given to Alcides to use as he decides – it will probably be used to buy furniture for a new dormitory and living space.
Visits to Azul Wasi
In 2010, the granddaughter of a member of the congregation of St Andrew’s spent a month there as a volunteer, helping the boys with their schoolwork, and painting the outside of the house.
The Pountain family visited Azul Wasi in August 2006, in August 2007 and again in October 2011. In the summer of 2012 the Peyton Jones family visited Azul Wasi.
With regular updates to the congregation and a variety of fundraising events, the momentum to support this project has continued. It has been wonderful for us at St Andrew’s Church to have been involved right from the start in helping Alcides to develop Azul Wasi and to be a part of this project which is making a real difference to the lives of the children who live there.
Alcides and the children are very grateful to the people of St Andrew’s Church both for their financial support and for their prayers. A short video was made to thank the people of St Andrew’s:
How you can help
Please continue to pray for this project: for Alcides, for those who look after the children and for the children whose home this is.
If you would like to know more about the project, or would like to help organise a fundraising event, please contact Chris or Mary Pountain (details below).
Making a donation
Donations for Azul Wasi can be made to St Andrew’s Church and given to a sidesperson, a member of the clergy team or to a churchwarden or sent by post to Mary Pountain (address below). Cheques should be made payable to St Andrew’s Church, Chesterton.
Having regular income towards the funding we provide for food costs is greatly appreciated and helps us to be able to commit to supporting the boys in the future.
If you would like to make a regular contribution to Azul Wasi by Standing Order, please download the Banker’s Order form or speak to the treasurer or Mary.
If you are a UK taxpayer and would like us to claim the Gift Aid on your donation, this will add an extra 25% to your donation at no cost to yourself.
If you would like to Gift Aid a donation, please put it in one of the white envelopes which are in the pews (you will need to complete the form on the envelope and label it Azul Wasi or Blue House). Alternatively, you can download the Gift Aid form or ask us for a copy.
Chris and Mary Pountain
13 Leys Road, Cambridge, CB4 2AP
tel: 01223 311055
Last updated: May 2016