Huacarpay is home to perhaps five hundred people — it’s hard to tell. This one-street town at the edge of Huacarpay Lake was inundated by flood waters in January 2010 and life has still not returned to normal. Frightened residents moved to higher ground on a ridge that overlooks the lake during four days of heavy rain. Their adobe houses were saturated with water and began to collapse as the waters rose. Living in tents above the town, they endured wind and cold temperatures in tents provided by U.S. AID, Backus Corporation (a Peruvian beverage maker) and other donors. The government decided it was best to relocate the town to higher ground, and chose a site on the other side of the valley. Most residents now have two home sites, the one devastated by the flood and the one provided for them by the government up above. Unfortunately, the new town site still lacks public transportation, stores, indoor bathrooms and other amenities. For this reason, most of the construction is happening down below, where people are building with concrete, stone and elevated platforms in the hope that these will withstand the flooding — should it ever happen again.
Leanna volunteers with PROSIM, a health project founded by the Iglesia Evangelica Menonita del Peru (Mennonite Evangelical Church of Peru). She lives in Huacarpay but travels widely … very widely. In fact, Leanna may have set a record for the number of kilometers logged while on service in Peru. She has accompanied PROSIM staff on multiple-day trips to Quechua-speaking communities high in the Andes with names like Colquemarca, Colca and Cotabambas. The purpose of these visits is to teach basic health, hygiene and nutrition to families, mostly mothers, who continue to live off the land much as their ancestors did centuries ago. While she is not traveling, Leanna assists medical staff at La Fuente Centro de Salud Integral (The Source Holistic Health Center) in nearby San Jeronimo. Leanna’s adventuresome spirit and willingness to go anywhere is a blessing to the health professionals she accompanies each day and a demonstration of God’s love to our brothers and sisters in need.