This project profiles six elderly residents of a shantytown in Peru during the pandemic. Like many people around the world who are growing old in poverty, they endured not just the fear of a deadly virus but also hunger and isolation as the pandemic unfolded. The shantytown, Nueva Esperanza (New Hope), is one of many squatter settlements in the hills around Lima where migrants from the Andes have carved out a community in hopes of a better future.
Today, the reflection of the elderly lives there. In those hills are several of the more than 700,000 older adults who live in poverty in the country. Sixty percent do not receive a retirement pension, and thirty one percent do not have access to any health system. A COVID-19 vaccination plan is beginning for the elderly, but many of them in this area are not found in official records.
Still, the residents fought against the virus; their stories show the strength of many older Peruvians. One person profiled came to Lima fleeing Peru’s civil war in the 1980s. Another works at a pig farm in exchange for food and tips. A woman survived polio and raised five children as a disabled single mother.
This project was developed with the support of Pulitzer Center.