In 2008 two families, the McKinzies and the Smiths, arrived in Arequipa with the mission of planting churches supported by several people and churches. They also wanted to work in development. Meanwhile, I was in Arequipa working in development as Coordinator of the Peace Corps. As a man of faith I do not believe in coincidences, I believe that God prepares us for what his work should be. That is why everything in my personal and working life worked together to stay in Arequipa and together we started to work to form what CUDA is today.
The Christian Urban Development Association works for justice, joy, and wellbeing in the city of Arequipa. Urban poverty is a different type of poverty. We want to break the cycles of poverty that don’t allow kids to have a chance. We’re training teachers to improve reading comprehension strategies so that the kids they teach will know how to read, and who knows, maybe they’ll grow up to be teachers that already know how to read and can teach reading—and many will experience wellbeing because of it.
These are small things that add up to be a huge blessing to us and to the work that we are doing through CUDA. Thank you for supporting us in this way. In this issue Katie writes about forced Sabbath, Jaclyn writes about a cookout we did with the orphanages, Jeremy shares his neighbor Alfredo's story, and Jake gives the recommendation for this month.
Thank you so much for being a part of our work in 2017, and working with us toward the future. People are experiencing justice, wellbeing, and joy in Arequipa. Development is a slow process, but it’s transformational. What is now just a seedling of new life we believe is growing into something much bigger.
I wanted to share some of my thoughts after spending just one day with the CUDA team and hope to pass along the excitement I felt working alongside these servant-leaders. I’ve been a member of CUDA’s board for four years and thought I had a good handle on the scope of our mission in Arequipa. However, visiting the city and witnessing first-hand the amazing work of CUDA’s staff and volunteers was an unforgettable experience.
It is with great joy that we are writing to report our findings and impressions following our family's visit to Arequipa in July. We spent two weeks with the church, and we took the opportunity to observe various aspects of CUDA's work and to discuss matters at length with Alfredo and some of our missionary volunteers.
We believe that God is healing and transforming creation, so part of our mission as a team is to proclaim and participate in God’s reign as it breaks into the city of Arequipa. We work for God’s reign, to produce signs of justice, wellbeing, and joy of God’s saving rule. What does that look like? Through CUDA, we catch glimpses. We plant seeds. We walk the long, slow path of development that leads to transformation. We do it because Jesus was raised from the dead and the world is now a different place.
The year is off to a great start! The new Living Library at an elementary school in the district of Miraflores has been inaugurated and is under way, and we continue working with three other schools. This year we’re working with 38 teachers and 694 kids and their families in four under-resourced schools across the city. Last year, our health team saw 1,000 patients, more than 100 of which were diabetics and 300+ who had a high risk of diabetes. We’re focusing this year on serving those who have joined our care and education for diabetics program—ProCED—as we continue to partner with the Hunter health center. We’re excited to share more developments throughout the year as together we plant kingdom seeds of justice, wellbeing, and joy in the city.
As a part of the Living Libraries program, the teachers are required to attend continuing education training sessions each month. Lucia and Nancy lead these, teaching reading strategies to the teachers. Past years, these training sessions have focused solely on reading strategies, but they decided that this year, since CUDA’s mission is to promote holistic wellbeing, they would try to do just that. Lucia has asked Jeremy to lead a few sessions on ethics and the PuraVida team to teach on health.
CUDA’s health branch, Pura Vida, is launching its newest initiative this month. We’re calling it ProCED (Programa de Cuidado y Educación para Diabéticos), a play on the Spanish word proceder, meaning “to proceed”. We are proceeding from and building on last year’s work done mostly by Andrew and Bethany Gray in the clinic in Arequipa’s district of Hunter. The Grays started doing free Diabetes screenings for patients in this clinic a little over a year ago and have established a great reputation for CUDA there. Finger-stick blood glucose readings allow us to see who has abnormally high blood glucose. We’ve screened over 850 people thus far.