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Pundit’s Mailbag — Further Support Efforts For Peru’s Earthquake Victims

As part of our coverage of the earthquake in Peru and industry efforts to help the Peruvians — particularly the farm workers — we ran a piece entitled, Sun World Launches Peru Earthquake Relief Program, that detailed a Sun World effort to get money to help relief efforts in Peru.

The gist of Sun World’s program is that a portion of the proceeds of Sun World’s sales of Peruvian Minneolas will be presented to the Peruvian Minister of Agriculture, to be spent on efforts to assist farm workers and otherwise to assist in the rebuilding of Peruvian agriculture.

Now we have received some additional information from Sun World:

I appreciate your continued reporting and sharing of information within our industry. Recently, your campaign and communication regarding the need for a coordinated effort to aid those in Peru — and regrettably others in the future — is right on target. I thought you would enjoy the personal perspective of someone on the ground there and what his suggestions are.

— Mike Aiton
Senior Vice President
SunWorld International

We appreciate Mike’s letter and, especially, his passing on of two things. First, you can see a presentation with photos of the damage caused by the earthquake here.

Second, as Mike references, he has sent along a letter from a contact in Peru:

This is a small brief just to let you know that we are ok after the earthquake. We have only suffered minor issues. The big house at the farm has only a few cracks, one of the guest houses has completely fallen and the worker quarters in the farm are ok as well. However, most of the worker’s houses have suffered a lot. You can see half of the population of Chincha still sleeping in the streets.

The earthquake struck in the Nasca fault, about 30 miles west of Pisco, which is about 50 miles from Chincha. We live in Chincha. Pisco was torn to ruins. I would say about 80% of the houses are uninhabitable. Chincha is in better shape with an average of 48% uninhabitable. We are all trying to relieve the basic needs of our workers and population in the best way possible. We have established a plan where the first thing done was aiding the health issues. This has now been done and the dead have been buried.

Secondly, we are supplying food and water. This is a gigantic task as no volume will be sufficient for the needs of the community. The third step will be to supply shelters, and lastly we need the government to rebuild the homes. We are waiting for the Peruvian government to help (promises have been made and new laws are showing good predisposition; but at a bureaucratic rhythm). The problem is the lack of leadership from the authorities and haziness in the view of the objectives. Most of the companies in this area are helping their own workers.

We are helping our own workers (about 1,500) but also our community (defined by the district in which we live). It is amajor task and so far we are covering the health, food and water supplies on a daily basis. Beatriz, my mother, has opened a distribution center at La Calera for these purposes. Besides donating Food and Water, La Calera has established a system for distributing basic non-perishable foodstuff items, such as rice, sugar, beans, powdered milk, etc to distribution centres around Chincha, to be sold at low prices; trying to fight the speculation going on (300 — 500%).

The process of giving the shelters is a bit slower, but is in place already. We had to conduct a survey among the people who had really damaged homes and with a shelter design that will work in our conditions. We have designed a shelter model that will last for 8-10 months (hopefully time to rebuild the houses), at a cost of US$ 100 per shelter; it is not much in size, about 25 m2 (250 feet2) but it will give shelter to at least one family.

We are asking all our friends from abroad to participate by donating any money possible to cover the expenses of the shelters. We already have a Non Governmental Organization ONG Pro-Laran; Laran is the District in which La Calera resides; it is a non-profit organization which was originally funded to aid Laran in Social issues. We can see no better use for Pro-Laran now than to channel the money and organize the aid to our community after the Earthquake.

Besides the sheltering aid, Pro-Laran ONG has been operating (started by mother Beatriz) for 3 years now, creating school programs, mothers’ associations, ANNIA (Children’s Organization), Wawa-wasi (Nursery), building community centers along with many other projects.

Any proceeds donated will be for the supply of shelters (US$ 100 per family) to the workers of La Calera and to the people of Laran. Our goal is to provide 1,000 shelters. We will not give money to the people directly; we supply them with the shelters themselves.

If you wish to donate, please send funds to:

Beneficiary — ONG Pro Laran
Account — 315-1614644-1-62
Bank — Banco de Credito del Peru
Address Bank — Av. Centenario # 156 La Molina, Lima 12

If you are able to donate and you contact me through our website, we will gladly send you back the names of the families that you have helped to shelter.

— Estuardo Masias

La Calera Group is a family-owned farm that is the largest producer of fresh eggs in Peru and also grows and exports citrus, avocados and grapes.

Mr. Masias has also provided the contact and donation information for ONG Pro-Laran, a non-governmental organization being used to funnel aid to Peru and, especially, to provide shelter for farm workers in this region.

For $100, they can provide a simple shelter that, hopefully, will buy enough time to allow homes to be rebuilt.

It is sometimes hard for Americans to understand the impact of an event like this earthquake to people like Peruvian farm workers. It is not just the damage caused by the earthquake; it is the lack of back-up and support systems. No money to go stay at a hotel — even for a little while. Families are not spread out, so they can’t just stay with a sibling in another part of the country. There is no insurance company to call.

The need is great but, fortunately, the impact of even a small donation is great as well. It is an opportunity to do a lot of good.

Many thanks to Mike Aiton of Sun World for passing this along and to Estuardo Masias of La Calera Group for allowing us to publish his letter.

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