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Donations help sister care for ill inmates in pandemic

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Sister Lilma Calsin Collazos, CSC, demonstrates the new oxygen concentrator machine used in her ministry to provide health care to prisoners in Lima, Peru. 

Sister Lilma and volunteers bring health services and spiritual support to Chorrillos Women’s Prison Annex

Orphaned and living on the streets of Lima, Peru, Rocio was 16 when she killed a man in self-defense. Arrested, Rocio ended up at the Chorrillos Women’s Annex Prison, where she met Sister Lilma Calsin Collazos, CSC, and her pastoral health team. Sister Lilma and her volunteers were visiting the prison twice weekly to bring desperately needed health services and spiritual support to incarcerated women and their young children imprisoned alongside them. 

But with the arrival of COVID-19, all visitors were barred. Prisoners were dying, children were being orphaned, and no help was forthcoming from officials. 

Rocio, in training to fulfill her dream of becoming a nurse, volunteered to help. The team provided her with personal protective equipment, and she worked tirelessly to minister to her fellow prisoners. 

“We will continue to help the inmates and their children”

In the meantime, Sister Lilma and her team found other ways to intervene. They convinced police officers to deliver an oxygen machine, blood pressure monitoring units, and a meter to control breathing, as well as medicines to manage COVID-19 symptoms. When an oxygen balloon was needed but was no longer available, the team looked for other types of equipment that would perform a similar function. They acquired masks, aprons, gloves and disinfection equipment and managed to get the items into the prison. 

“It has not yet been possible to control the spread of the virus in the prison, but it has been possible to control the severity of the disease,” Sister Lilma says. Unfortunately, Rocio, who had toiled for six weeks and saved many lives, contracted the virus and died.

“We still do not know how far this situation will go. But as long as those we minister to give us the strength, we will continue to help the inmates and their children in an attempt to save their lives,” says Sister Lilma. 

Donations help expand the ministry

In 2019 Sister Lilma had received support from the Ministry With the Poor Fund and a grant from the J. Homer Butler Foundation to help expand her ministry. When COVID-19 hit, some of those funds were used to combat the virus’s rampage through the prison. Your donations to the Peru Mission fund for Sister Lilma’s ministry will help her continue the fight against the coronavirus.