By Jessica Easthope
COVID-19 is taking over in Latin America, hitting Chile, Mexico, Brazil and Peru the hardest. In the Brooklyn Diocese, Peruvian families who have experienced the worst of the pandemic are now desperate to help their relatives back home.
“The virus really affected my household, we were isolated for two months and I wasn’t able to see my children and I was having a lot of medical issues,” said Rosa Pajares a parishioner at Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Jamaica, Queens.
Rosa and her husband Juan Avila feel helpless. Rosa’s mother and two sister are back in Peru. COVID-19 is ravaging her hometown and there’s a severe shortage of oxygen.
“The need for oxygen is really high but people don’t have money so there’s not a lot of places you can get it,” Rosa said.
Peru’s oxygen shortage is igniting a healthcare crisis. People are forced to buy the life-saving canisters at exorbitant markups, some are even turning to the black market.
“People are taking advantage, reselling the oxygen at a high price and not a lot of people can get it and people are dying,” said Rosa.
Peru has reported more than 183,000 cases of COVID-19 and more than 5,000 people have died from the virus.
Rosa has already suffered a tremendous loss, her brother who was living here in the United States was killed by COVID-19.
“This affected my family so much, we needed financial help from friends and we were not able to have a dignified funeral for my brother,” Rosa said.
Through her faith, Rosa says she has forgiven those taking advantage of her home country’s most vulnerable.
“The people reselling the oxygen I pray to God to help these people and to help me not judge them,” Rosa said. “I ask God to help me love them and for them to change their hearts.”