Our Stories

Ciara Murphy, Volunteer

My name is Ciara Murphy. I have recently spent two weeks in Peru. I would like to share my experience of my time spent in Las Lomas de Carabayello the shanty town in which my father (Michael) does some voluntary work.
Firstly I would like to explain why I choose Peru as a holiday destination. As many of you are aware my father Michael Murphy has been volunteering in the shanty towns for the past couple of years. More recently he has been spending 6 months of the year out there. From listening to his stories and looking at his photographs I decided to go to Peru to experience this for myself. Michael always seemed so happy when he was spending time out in Peru no matter how many desperate cases he came across, this always intrigued me. As a result two of my friends and I booked a flight to join him in Peru.
I remember the first day we were brought up to Las Lomas, I was amazed at the reception Michael was given people both young and old came from all over as word got out that Michael (aka Gringo Micheael – White Michael!) was back in Peru. These people were most welcoming to my friends and I and I have never come across people who are so hospitable in all my life. Once they were introduced they immediately expressed their gratitude for all the fundraising done for them and also spoke very highly of Michael and all the work he does for them. We were invited into their Community Dinning Room where all the locals gathered around chatting and playing the atmosphere was lovely and the people were so sincere. Throughout our few days in Las Lomas we visited many dinning rooms that have been built, ones currently under construction as well as temporary dining rooms that people use when waiting on one to be built. Honestly some animals in Ireland have better shelters than what these people have for dining rooms.
We also visited some schools and the Community Workshop where women go to make arts and crafts either to sell or to use in their own homes. They proudly display some photos taken of their creations. This is a very useful way to empower the local women. Empowerment is the main focus of Michael’s work there. It is important to get the communities involved in the building of Community Dinning Rooms and Workshops. This gives them a sense of power over their situation.
Visiting some of the locals in their homes was a very humbling experience. It was a real eye opener and made me very grateful for what I have. The locals are very good to each other – one family even gave up one room of their house to use as a dinning room. Some families are lucky enough to have a two ring gas cooker in their homes but unfortunately cannot afford to buy gas; therefore the food they can provide for their family is minimal. This is where all the funds come in – once a dinning room has been built the government will provide some food and some of these families can get a meal Monday – Friday and feed their family.
A few children that we met have disabilities, medication provided by the government does not always help their conditions but if the families have money they can buy medication that will maintain their health. This money is also provided from all the fundraising that everyone in Ireland does. By getting proper medication these children can attend school due to their conditions being maintained.
Overall it was such an inspiration so see the utter poverty and destitution these people live it but they still manage to keep their spirits up. Since my return I have been more aware of the need for more fundraising to be done for this charity, thankfully we have lots of great family and friends who are always there to help out.
Ciara Murphy
March 2007

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