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NEW HAVEN, Conn. — The Knights of Columbus is providing more than $146,000 for the construction of a plant to condense and concentrate oxygen to serve Peru’s second most populous region, which is suffering from the effects of COVID-19.
The Order is undertaking the project at the behest of Archbishop José Antonio Eguren of the Archdiocese of Piura, Peru. The goal is to fill nearly 50 10m3 oxygen tanks daily to help fill an urgent need in the community. The project follows nearly $250,000 worth of oxygen supplies sent by the Knights of Columbus to help the Indigenous people of the Amazon region.
“Breathing is so fundamental that we often take it for granted, and now we see men, women and children literally desperate for this basic necessity,” Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly said. “The Knights’ principle of charity impels us to act and provide resources necessary for our brothers and sisters in Christ to live through this global crisis.”
The Piura region is the second-largest population center in Peru, but it has an acute infrastructure deficiency when it comes to ICU beds as well as the provision of concentrated medicinal oxygen. Health care networks, already precarious from the impact of natural disasters, have been strained, and many individuals in critical condition are going without oxygen, both in the hospitals and in private homes. However, with the commitment from the Knights of Columbus, the archdiocese can immediately begin construction of a facility that will make oxygen available to patients within 6 to 8 weeks.
In February, the Knights of Columbus provided concentrated oxygen and personal oxygen concentrator devices to the Amazon regions of Brazil and Peru, where Indigenous populations have been hit hard by the pandemic. This latest project fulfills the Knights’ $400,000 commitment for COVID-19 relief in South America, and will make an impact long into the future.
The recent efforts in Brazil and Peru fall within the Knights’ “Leave No Neighbor Behind” initiative, which began nearly a year ago as a response to the pandemic. Knights of Columbus around the world were encouraged to continue serving their communities while adhering to social-distance guidelines. In addition to charitable support at the state and local level, the initiative included a multimillion-dollar campaign to support food banks in the United States and Canada; million-dollar lines of credit to dioceses in financial trouble; sponsorship of Vatican broadcasts during Holy Week and Christmas and support of Rome’s Bambino Gesù pediatric hospital for the care of children infected by the coronavirus.
“We have pledged to leave no neighbor behind, and this commitment to this work in South America speaks to that,” Supreme Knight Kelly said. “In our response to the coronavirus as with so many other initiatives, we will hold true to the saying, ‘where there is a need, there is a Knight’.”
Watch a video of the impact of the Knights’ efforts in Brazil and Peru.
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