I have already mentioned in one blog how CEAS is seeking for justice for the families of the political violence, but this is only one area of work for CEAS who are doing so many amazing things. We all left the meeting feeling energised by the people of CEAS but also amazed at the range of work that they do.
We heard how CEAS work with prisoners. The prison system in Peru is at 120% capacity and is in crisis. Up to ten people can be held in cells three square metres in size and the state of the prisons is one of the biggest human rights issues in Peru.
One specific problem is that Peruvian prisons were not designed for women yet many women are imprisoned. It is not unusual in Peru for children up to the age of three to be allowed to live with their mothers in prison which is quite shocking for us Brits. Separating young children from their mothers can be very harmful for both parties so it’s seen partly as a humanitarian option available to the mothers. This is hotly debated.
CEAS are campaigning about the issue and the focus of their campaign is that, considering that there are young children in prison with their mothers, there needs to be adequate provision for those children. This seems like an obvious thing, but in a prison system that is overstretched, this provision is not there. We pray for the success of that campaign.
CEAS also coordinate a 500-strong team of prison visitors. These visitors are trained and supported and visit around 60 prisons in Peru. These incredible people visit some of the most vulnerable people in the prison systems. Though the work isn’t easy, I am sure that they encounter Christ in the people they visit. See Matthew chapter 25 for a fuller explanation of that thought.
Finally, another aspect of CEAS’s work is starting ethical businesses. They do this throughout society with various groups of people. The first task is for the group to decide on the values their businesses to have and once these are agreed they then work out what sort of business to run and how they are going to make it successful business and benefit the local community. The bible passage about building a house on rocks rather than sand came to my mind.
One of the groups of people who form these ethical businesses are the aforementioned prisoners. This means that some of the most vulnerable people in Peruvian society are given access to some education and training meaning that they have recourse to a trade in and out of prison.
I was bowled over by the scale of work that CEAS undertake – I haven’t even mentioned the work around helping communities stand up for their rights when they are threatened by mining companies. I pray that the Spirit of God will fill their hearts, that they will experience the fruit of the Spirit in their lives and work and that they will see the face of the world renewed.