You can read updates from Azul Wasi in our Autumn 2023 Newsletter.
You can sign up to receive the twice yearly Azul Wasi Newsletter, and occasional emails with information of forthcoming events. These will be sent out via mailchimp and, as in the past, your details will never be passed on to any other person or organisation.
To make a donation to Azul Wasi click the button below (to give online) or scroll down for further information about Gift Aid and making a Regular Donation.
Azul Wasi: the story
The Blue House, or Azul Wasi as it is called in Quechua, is a project that we have been supporting at St Andrew’s since June 2006, helping to create and support a home for street children in Cusco, Peru.
The project started as a dream of Alcides, a policeman from Cusco who had spent many years working with vulnerable children in the city. He wanted to build a home where some of these children could grow up feeling secure and happy and learn the skills they need to stand a better chance of being employed and not living a life on the streets.
In 2005, Mary and Chris Pountain’s daughter, Fran Talavera, was living in Peru for a year and worked with Alcides to get the project started. St Andrew’s has helped the project grow from a field to a happy family home for up to 20 young children.
It was really exciting when we phoned Alcides just before Christmas in 2007 to hear the sounds of excited children celebrating the opening of Azul Wasi as the home for the first seven children who had just moved in.
There are currently 16 boys between 7 and 19 living there; previously there have been up to 20, together with the daughters of the first cook Anastasia, but in the current economic situation and with rising costs Alcides cannot increase the numbers. They attend the village school in Oropesa and when they finish there the older teenagers attend colleges in Cusco to gain further qualifications. At Azul Wasi, they live as a family and are learning the basic skills for living, helping with the cooking and washing and looking after the animals.
When the children first arrive they are often very withdrawn, insecure and have poor levels in reading and writing. They have to adjust to a completely new situation and living together as a new family. Some children only speak Quechua when they arrive and have to learn Spanish. Often the children arrive without any birth certificate or ID and Alcides has to work with the authorities to get their ID issue sorted out before they can start to go to school. Azul Wasi has had its ups and downs but the children are very happy there. They work hard at school and with their homework. They are doing well, both academically and in sport; their favourite leisure activity is football. They have taken part in a programme of training in various skills so that they can have a better chance of getting a job when they leave. Azul Wasi is certainly making a big difference to their lives and giving them real opportunities for the future.
For many years, David was the tutor and his wife Luz was the cook; they lived on site with their daughter and supported the boys in many ways. When they left, Dante and his wife Victoria took over. Dante came to Azul Wasi at the age of 11 and grew up there, and we were delighted that he wanted to return and take on this role.
New buildings have been built when money has become available. They have brick-built dormitories which have been insulated using a donation from the pupils at King’s College School, Cambridge, to protect them better from the cold winds and rain.
There have always been a lot of animals at Azul Wasi, which the children helped to care for, including dogs, cats, chickens and ducks and geese, as well as their friendly parrot called Laura. However, as a result of the pandemic and the difficult economic situation in Peru they now have only a few.
We would also like to share a lovely video made by the Cusco-based photographer Alonso Contrina where he asked the children ‘What would your advice be to be happy?’. You can watch the video here.
How St Andrew’s supports Azul Wasi
The people of St Andrew’s Church first became involved in raising money for Azul Wasi in June 2006 after a presentation to the congregation at one of the church’s regular Gift Days.
The congregation of St Andrew’s has continued to support the project enthusiastically through individual donations and various fundraising events at the church. The PCC supports the project with an annual donation of £1,000 and altogether the money raised so far has amounted to over £130,000.
Initially St Andrew’s raised money towards the building and setting up of the project, but in January 2009, we decided to send a regular monthly sum from St Andrew’s specifically towards the food. We currently (2023) send a monthly donation to £875 per month which amounts to £10,500 for the year.
Every penny goes to Azul Wasi
Gifts to Azul Wasi are administered via St Andrew’s Church, which does not attract any administrative costs and allows donations to be enhanced by Gift Aid. We use an online remittance service to transfer money six times a year, which keeps fees extremely low, and in any case these fees are covered by the PCC donation. So all of what our donors give goes straight to Azul Wasi. We check the receipts for food sent to us by Alcides so we can be sure our money is being wisely spent. We are in frequent touch with Alcides, who keeps us informed of developments and problems.
A number of people have committed to making a regular monthly or quarterly donation. Having these regular monthly donations – however small – is really helping towards the sustainability of the project. Knowing that we can rely on these donations and not simply on organising occasional fundraising events helps us to feel confident that we can continue to support the children at Azul Wasi.
Our fundraising events have included sponsored cycle rides and walks, beetle drives, pudding and wine evenings, concerts, talent evenings etc. The St Andrew’s bell ringers often kindly donate the money that they receive from visiting bell ringers. Ideas and offers of help in organising fundraising events are always welcome!
Visits to Azul Wasi
Members of the Pountain family have visited Azul Wasi on various occasions: in August 2006, August 2007 and again in October 2011. In August 2018 Mary and Chris spent a day at Azul Wasi. It was wonderful to be able to meet the children and to speak with Alcides.
In 2010, the granddaughter of a member of the congregation of St Andrew’s spent a month there as a volunteer, helping the boys with their schoolwork, and painting the outside of the house, and in the summer of 2012 the Peyton Jones family visited.
With regular updates to the congregation and a variety of fundraising events, the momentum to support this project has continued. It has been wonderful for us at St Andrew’s Church to have been involved right from the start in helping Alcides to develop Azul Wasi and to be a part of this project which is making a real difference to the lives of the children who live there.
Alcides and the children are very grateful to the people of St Andrew’s Church both for their financial support and for their prayers.
How you can help
Please continue to pray for this project: for Alcides, for those who look after the children and for the children whose home this is.
If you would like to know more about the project, or would like to help organise a fundraising event, please contact Chris or Mary Pountain (details below).
Making a donation
Donations for Azul Wasi can now be made online – click the button below.
Cheques and cash donations can be given to a sidesperson, a member of the clergy team or to a churchwarden or to Mary Pountain (address below). Cheques should be made payable to St Andrew’s Chesterton PCC. Please make sure that the donation is clearly marked for Azul Wasi.
If you are a UK taxpayer and would like us to claim the Gift Aid on your donation, this will add an extra 25% to your donation at no cost to yourself.
If you would like to Gift Aid a donation, please put it in one of the white envelopes which are in the pews in St Andrew’s Church (you will need to complete the form on the envelope and label it Azul Wasi or Blue House). Alternatively, you can download the Gift Aid Form or ask us for a copy.
Having regular income towards the funding we provide for food costs is greatly appreciated and helps us to be able to commit to supporting the project in the future and not to have to rely simply on fundraising events. It also gives Alcides confidence, knowing that the money is coming in regularly.
If you would like to make a regular contribution to Azul Wasi by Standing Order, please download the Banker’s Order Form and, if appropriate, the Gift Aid Form. For further help with this, speak to the Church Treasurer or Mary Pountain (contact details below).
Chris and Mary Pountain
13 Leys Road, Cambridge, CB4 2AP
tel: 01223 311055
Last updated: September 2023