IQUITOS. Gateway to the Amazon. This city of nearly 600,000 people in the vast Loreto region of Perú, is a mix of both ancient and modern. Isolated and mysterious, there are no roads that lead to Iquitos. One can only arrive by plane or by ferryboat. This is the city in which Help One Now will be partnering with Kairos Ministries to educate vulnerable children and break cycles of extreme poverty in South America.
Iquitos is a growing city, teeming with life, culture and opportunity for some. Yet it is also home to more than it’s share of extreme poverty. Nearly 30% of its population lives in a township called Belén, which lies in the Amazon riverbed, where the land gives way to water more than half the year. Houses are either built on stilts or built to float with the rising river. The land is free because it’s not really land; hence, Belén is home to those on the fringes both economically and socially. Some live there because they have no choice, and some choose to live there to skirt the laws and norms of civil society. Many of these one-room houses are home to large extended families, or even multiple families. Most parents are forced to work long hours to make ends meet, leaving small children at home. All of this mixed with alcohol and isolation is a recipe for abuse, sexual exploitation, and disease. Nearly 20 years ago, in this context, Noe & Mercedes Malpartida launched Kairos Ministries, which now consists of a church and two schools. Since that time, they have been tirelessly building bridges in their community by providing quality education and care for vulnerable children, and counseling and support for struggling families. Many of the children who attend Kairos schools live in Belén. These children and their families are receiving education—often the first step toward breaking cycles of poverty—and support that would otherwise be out of reach.
Kairos and the Malpartida family suffered tragedy a few years ago when Noe, Mercedes’s husband, unexpectedly passed away. Mercedes, a strong and passionate woman, and her son, Willie, have now taken the reins of Kairos Ministries. Mercedes is the lead pastor of Kairos Church…and she is leading well. In fact, on our first night in Iquitos, we had the privilege of attending a leadership meeting at the church. 30+ men and women listened attentively as Mercedes taught three characteristics of a good leader—be positive, be patient, be peaceful. And Mercedes has a big vision for the future…as the church grows and the schools begin to thrive, she wants to provide a refuge, a safe house, for abused children and young women. We are more than excited to officially launch this partnership in Iquitos, Peru between Help One Now and Kairos. Our goal in the short-term is to gain 100 child sponsorships for vulnerable children who attend Kairos Schools. This will allow the schools to improve their facilities, services and staff, and aid in the development of a trade school for those transitioning into the next phase of life. In the long-term, we hope to walk alongside Mercedes Malpartida and explore the possibilities of rescuing and restoring abused women and children in Iquitos. We need your help to make this partnership a success. Please consider SPONSORING A CHILD in Iquitos, and know that your investment will help launch a partnership that will transform an entire community and break cycles of extreme poverty.