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Margherita, driven by a passion for teaching, decided to put her life in Milan on hold for a year and leave for Lima in Peru, where people like her really do make a difference.

Who is Margherita?

Margherita is a young primary school teacher at the German School in Milan, who has recently returned from Peru, where she was a volunteer with Operation Mato Grosso, inside the state-run Puericultorio “Perez Aranibar”, a children’s home in Lima.

Margherita left for Peru, temporarily putting the career she loves on hold, to offer her training, skills and professionalism to help turn around the fate of all those children and adolescents living in poverty and neglect and give them another chance.

The context

Peru is a poor country with many problems: from the mountains – in the Andes – where the inhabitants live in conditions of extreme poverty, they move to Lima, to the city, in search of a better life.
Unfortunately urban living is not ideal as in the slums, suburbs and historic centre of Lima, gangland and petty criminals rule the streets.

Padre Ugo is the founder of Operation Mato Grosso, a project to help kids, aimed at ensuring their healthy growth and that they get an inclusive quality education, with empathy and surrounded by the people who are caring for them. He has always felt that in the rundown buildings and grounds of the Puericultorio on the shores of the Pacific Ocean, there lies the possibility for a new beginning, just as he did when he was a young Salesian priest, taking over the young offenders prison in Arese in Italy and transforming it into a large family that welcomed and offered new opportunities to young people in difficulty.

Thanks to the commitment of volunteers like Margherita, who offer their professionalism, dedication and skills, Father Ugo’s dream is becoming a reality.

What is the Puericultorio?
The Puericultorio is a large building divided into wings housing about 200 children, from 0 to 18 years of age, who often come from extreme poverty, homelessness or complex family situations.
Before Operation Mato Grosso became involved, it was a sort of ghetto that brought minors from difficult backgrounds together under one roof. Given the small number of assistants working inside the Puericultorio, they were unable to dedicate the necessary time to the children and teenagers in the institute, who at times suffered from total neglect.

Mato Grosso

In 2016, Mato Grosso managed to join the Puericultorio, though this was not without its difficulties. It was thanks to the dedication and determination of all those Italian and Peruvian volunteers who, like Margherita, dreamed of a different future for these children: a safer, more peaceful and above all happier one.

The Puericultorio is run by a longstanding institution (the Sociedad de Beneficencia de Lima Metropolitana – 1834) with which it has not always been easy to find a common ground and collaborate. Fighting for and persevering in their intent, the volunteers from Mato Grosso have now managed to build two new houses where 29 children aged 9 to 13 live, as well as take over a part of the Puericultorio so they can take care of the education of these 29 children and organise volunteering activities with local young people.
But this is just the beginning…