Home Visits in Villa el Salvador, Peru: Angelica
Alibi’s Ilene Style reports from her volunteer mission in South America
Angelica lives with her grown son Pedro, who is blind. Her other son, who also lived with them, and with whom she was very close, died recently of tuberculosis, a disease that is rampant in Villa el Salvador. She has trouble getting around because her legs are very swollen, despite the special stockings she wears. Her condition is not helped by the fact that she is overweight, something one does not see often in Villa el Salvador.
The walls of her house are made of a medley of strange materials that look as if they are about to collapse at any moment, and part of the house has no roof. The squalor inside is eye-opening. Hermana Jacci warned me about this the first time we visited her, saying discreetly before we entered, "Angelica is not the best housekeeper." There were piles of trash? ... knick knacks? ... worldly possessions? strewn everywhere. Apparently Angelica's neighbors had to come over and help her clean up the mess before her son's wake (which is always held in the home of the deceased, with the casket in full view. Burials happen quickly afterward, as there is no embalming available.)
Angelica has stopped attending the Los Martincitos program because she has been in a depression since the death of her beloved son. The second time we visited her, she cried because she misses him so much. Hermana Jacci tried to reason with her that she would be less depressed at the program, surrounded by her amigas, than sitting at home every day in the room that she shared with her son—the same room in which he was laid out after his death. She gave this some thought, but didn't seem convinced.
Her remaining son Pedro is supposed to be taking care of her, although that is difficult because he is blind. He is very domineering, and Angelica fears that because the deed of her house is in his name, he will eventually put her out. Recently he has acquired a new girlfriend, so has been spending much more time away from home ... and away from his mother, leaving her alone much more than she is used to.
We will continue to encourage Angelica to return to Los Martincitos, because if she misses too many days, she will be dropped from the program, as there is a waiting list of other needy abuelos in Villa el Salvador who would be grateful to have her spot.