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Arkansas Catholic
Litlte Rock, Arkansas
October 3, 1969     Arkansas Catholic
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October 3, 1969

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THE GUARDIAN, OCTOBER 3, 1969 PAGE 9 Serving present in the humble service of caring finds his joy through service, be it highly spec- human needs of life so often lacking for ialized or as simple as feeding the hungry. and orphaned. A missionary Brother Teaching is present in people communicating. A can provide for the illiterate tools of learning and communication. be found serving in mission schools, preparing men for the priesthood in native semi- naries or training other native laymen to be catechists• In Friendship must be present to all men wherever men to the missionary community. All missionaries .tn need of others. Lay missionaries serve know Christ is alive in joy, friendship, and broth- ' eds by their unique contribution as laymen e rhood. Remarkable Self Help Projects Remaking Face Of Metropolitan Lima, Peru Washington (NC) -- The fact that 264 "Young Towns" dotting metro- politan Lima, Peru, have made community improvements totaling $1-billion in a decade is a tribute to the will and sacrifice of the poor families who established them, according to a Peruvian soc- ial reformer. Auxiliary Bishop Luis Bam- baren, S. J•, of Lima added that it was the "iron will of these peo- ple" which prompted the Church and government agencies to lend coordinated help to "their invinci- ble initiative." Entire housing projects were started from scratch in several areas surrounding Lima and developed into "total communi- ties equipped with all basic ser- vices• Seldom in the history of self-aid has there been such a show of vitality and determina- tion by people of very low in- come," the bishop said. Income per family in the area ranges from $30 to $50 a month. Homeless families, many from rural areas, join in marches for land on public tracts, quickly mark off streets and squares, and start building makeshift homes that eventually are made permanent. The new home-owners then obtain help from government andprivate agencies. But most of the com- munity improvements are financed by neighbors, who in addition contribute all the labor. "Volunteer workers flocktoany project," Bishop Bambaren said in an interview here. "We have to turn them down sometimes for lack of enough tools. Once, for instance, we managed to open a 2,300-foot-long trench through hard ground, place the water pi- ping and cover it again in one morning, from seven to noon." In similar fashion, several of the Young Towns are now involved in such projects as these: --At San Martin de Porres, street improvements worth $350,000 are underway• --At Comas, drinkingwater and electric power are beingbrought to 7,000 homes• The water project costs $800,000, the electrifica- tion project $850,000. --At Hermitano, Cueva and Comas, street leveling is going on at a cost of $38,000. The government provides heavy equipment and the men to operate it, the people pay for fuel and provide workers brigades• Most of the work is done from 8 to 10 in the evening and on Sundays. "At Puente de Piedra people are constructing a water reser- voir on top of the hill overlooking the Young Town," Bishop Bam- baren said. "Men, women and children have managed to trans- port on their backs 30 tons of steel, 800 tons of cement and the equivalent of 18 truckloads of stone, working in a human chain under a string of light bulbs." This does not happen by acci- dent. "The Pueblos Jovenes -- Young Towns -- movement is rooted in love for the family and the com- munity," the bishop said, and it is well organized. Aggressive leadership has forged a system of neighborhood committees elected by streets and sectors. These committees formulate plans, raise and administer funds, and set- priorities: water, schools, drain- age, public lighting --whatever they need and want. These groups hold general as- semblies and other more fre- quent meetings. They have opened leadership training centers. The groups also exercise pressure on government agencies and on public opinion. To some extent the YoungTowns developed from efforts by the Church for decent housing and services under the Mision de Lima program, started in 1957. It is now under the direction of Bishop Bambaren, who is known as "the bishop of the barrta- das." By February, 1968, the neighbors had established their organization, Pueblos Jovenes del Peru (PUJOP), and by the end of the year the National Agency for Development of the Young Towns had been launched. By "total communities" lead- ers of the movement mean neigh- borhoods provided with medical, health and educational services, public utilities, and shopping cen- ters, organized as consumer coop- eratives. Both the governmentand the private sector -- construction firms and building supplies com- panies, technical groups like architects, engineers and others -- supply additional services. "The Church in turn fosters a deeper community sense, a clear awareness of the contribution so- cial virtues can make to the welfare of all. This is a matter of developing to a fuller sense the already existing evangelical vir- tues of the people, such as trust in God, respect for human dignity, a drive to be more," the bishop said. The towns spread through sev- eral parishes, but most of the Church work is done by teams of priests, nuns and lay leaders visiting the neighborhoods. Some 264 well-defined pueblos have been legally incorporated into greater Lima. They have an estimated population of over one million people -- compared with the .5 million total population of the area. By March, 1969, estimated total investment of the 200,000 families of the Young Towns amounted to about $1•2-bfllion. All the funds were contributed by the communities. "The actual cost of construction could be much higher if it was done on a commercial basis. We have been building schools at half the cost and distributing water and electric power at one third of the going rates," Bis- hop Bambaren noted. "There is one unforgettable les- son in this self-help saga --you do not work for the people, you work with the people. The gov- erument or the private sector do not move in unless called by an organized neighborhood group." Bishop Bambaren, 41, became a member of the Peruvian hier- archy nine years after ordina- tion as a priest. He was born at rural Yungay in Huaraz. Re- cently he and his brothers sold a small farm they owned to the farmers who had previously work- ed it on a tenant basis. The price was $485, a nominal price for prime land• Ever Wonder... • . .why Washington doesn't remit taxes so that states and cities can levy them, Instead of turning back to these governments what is left after bureaucratic coUectors, bookkeepers and distributors de- duct their pay?