About the Hogar Belen
This is a home for abandoned children, abused mothers and others in dire circumstances because of health problems.
This home was founded by Sister Loretta of the sisters of Our Lady of the Missions with the support of the Franciscans. It receives abandoned children left at the door and mothers whose children are sick and who have no money for medicine or food for them and no means of obtaining it on their own.
It provides food for about 250 people daily, 3 meals a day. There are about 175 children studying at all levels from kindergarten to end of high school and then to higher education that will prepare them to be able to earn their own living in the future and help the less fortunate. They are living on a farm which provides most of the milk, meat and poultry for the residents. There is also a large garden for vegetables and the bread is baked daily in a mud oven.
All the residents help with all the chores and in taking care of one another. The children from 12 years old begin to learn all kinds of skills from cooking to laundry to taking care of the babies. The boys also learn carpentry and welding skills as well as how to be good fathers and help take care of their future families.
Everyone has to live on the farm even though it is very crowded because the home that they had in Moquegua was destroyed in an earthquake a few years ago and all the promises of help to rebuild has come to naught.
The home survives on Divine Providence in the form of donations from generous people, often in the form of the widows mite. There is no government help because in Peru there is no social safety net.
This home is located in Moquegua, in a coastal valley in the desert of Peru. This is part of the Atacama desert along the western coast of South America. It is the driest desert in the world. Therefore, the fields need to be irrigated by channels that bring the water from the mountains when it is available. There are no major industries in the Moquegua area. However, not too far away there is a large copper mining complex which does provide jobs to the lucky ones. Most of the people have a lot of initiative and are able to survive until they or their family become sick. It is then when the home becomes vital for their survival.
"The first child was received in 1974. A Home was not planned and gradually other children were received as their situation warranted. So the first few years there were few children until around 1980 when the economic crisis became more acute. The larger family unit used to be able to help out but at that time the families were barely able to care for their immediate family and were no longer able to help out nieces and nephews etc. at the death of a parent etc."
-Sr. Marilyn LeBlanc