Since 1948 the 7th of April has been recognised as World Health Day by the World Health Organisation in order to raise awareness about various health issues which affect the globe. This year’s focus is on Depression, although an invisible ailment, its effects can be catastrophic to a person’s life.
LAFF’s partner organisations work with and support vulnerable children suffering from mental illnesses as a result of experiencing abuse. Many of the children come from unstable and often unsafe backgrounds and our partner projects dedicate time and resources to teaching the children to live with and manage their difficult memories and experiences. Azul Wasi and Casa Mantay (two of LAFF’s partners) are often faced with supporting abused children and young people. The first of these two organisations takes the form of an orphanage which works to protect children who have suffered abuse or neglect at home or who were found living on the streets. At Azul Wasi, the children are provided with a friendly and caring family environment and are encouraged to confront their prior experiences through open discussion.
Similarly, Casa Mantay is a home for young mothers which cares for girls who have fallen pregnant at a very young age often because of sexual abuse. As one can imagine, these experiences mark a person’s life. The girls at Casa Mantay often suffer from psychological issues, such as depression, as a result of their horrific experiences. The home provides a team of psychologists and social workers to support the girls and show them a way to overcome their difficulties. LAFF and its partner organisations value enormously the importance of mental health. LAFF’s aim of ensuring that all children at our partner organisations complete education can only be achieved if the children have a receptive and healthy state of mind. Thus the importance of good mental health and psychological support is essential.
Although this year’s World Health Day is acknowledging mental health illnesses and issues, this does not diminish the importance of physical and sexual health. LAFF has provided facilitated workshops at the Sacred Valley Project dormitories concerning sexual health. This organisation supports young girls from rural communities to access secondary education by providing board and lodging near a school during the week. Given that Peru remains a rather conservative country, learning about important issues such as contraception and menstruation is essential for the empowerment of the girls. LAFF is planning to facilitate a similar health workshop at our partner project Mosqoy next month. These workshops allow young people to become aware of important health issues, providing them with another form of education in addition to their academic programmes.
Health remains to be one of the most discriminatory aspects of the world with standard of hygiene and health varying enormously based on continent and social background. Here in Cusco, LAFF is working with its partner organisations to promote good health and increase health education amongst the children and young people. If you’d like to help us continue supporting our partner organisation with health education workshops and access to education, feel free to donate!