The Story Retold

In Pamplona Alta, a desperately impoverished barrio on the outskirts of Lima, the coordinators of the women's club told the story of telling the story. In rings of poverty around the city live vast communities of the anawim, the unforgettable forgotten ones who have eked out a semblance of existence by invading unused land and claiming the right to stay put. In 20 years some have managed to brick in their original straw houses -- slowly scrimping together enough to buy one brick at a time and finally topping the one-room house with a rainproof roof.

Now the few open corners in the barrio are being invaded by a new wave of refugees -- refugees from the violence of Left and Right in the countryside (fleeing, sadly, into the violence of Left and Right in the sprawling city) and refugees from deepening poverty. The "older" residents of Pamplona Alta are watching the possibility for a decent existence slip away. Even the life-saving common gardens, carefully tended with sparse water (it is turned on only every eighth day) are potential shack-building sites.

In Peru, survival itself is in question every day, and so, understandably, the more-settled impoverished ones feel threatened as they are called upon to share, to divide again the few and inadequate services they have. They know that soon they will all have less: less land, less food, less water, less opportunity to squeeze onto already packed buses, less opportunity for even the minimal health care, less possibility of finding work.

There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and upon the Earth distress of nations in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.

-- Luke 21:25-26

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