The People

The city of Huancavelica is Peru’s poorest state capital. Unfortunately, its 49,000 residents lead the nation in illiteracy, infant mortality, and malnutrition. Their challenges are compounded by the fact that about 50% of the homes in the town are constructed from adobe or local soils, which our research has demonstrated to be contaminated with different forms of mercury, as well as lead and arsenic.

The families we are working with in Huancavelica, and whose homes we are remediating, have been involved in our research since 2010. They are our most important collaborators, having patiently allowed us to chip away at their walls, take samples of their dirt floors, and swab dust from their homes.

These are the poorest people of the poorest capital in Peru, and they need our, and your, help to protect the health and future of their families.

Meet our Participants



The participants below live in homes whose walls and floors are contaminated with mercury, resulting in vapor emissions as well as the ingestion of contaminated dust. All homes exceed reference concentrations in at least one media, such as air, dust or soil. Often they exceed in more than one category, with resulting health risks to themselves and their families.

Doris Hilda Pumacahua Huamani and Family

Doris lives with her brother and his two school-age children, and four other siblings in Huancavelica’s Yananaco neighborhood. They have been in their home for 25 years and while Doris does odd jobs, Armando works as a carpenter’s assistant.

Policarpo De La Cruz Sánchez

Fifty-two year old Policarpo De La Cruz Sánchez lives in extremely povertous circumstances, also in the Yananaco neighborhood. He has also been blind for the past thirteen years as a result of a cataract operation which was unsuccessful. Sadly, Policarpo lives on a plate of food a day, brought to him by his sister or sons, as well as alms. He is also in a training program which will enable him to assist other blind people.

Sayuri Riveros De La Cruz and Family

Sayuri is 38 years old, and has lived her entire life in her contaminated home. So too have her four school-age boys, who were also born there. While Sayuri is the birth mother to two of her sons, she adopted her two other sons upon the tragic death of her sister. Sayuri also lives with her extended family, so a total of 12 people live in her home. Sayuri is the head of the household, and works as a laundress and maid in order to support her family.

Israel Laurente Rojas and Family

Israel Laurente Rojas and his wife Elva have been married for sixteen years and have four children, all of whom are in school. Living with them is Israel’s father, who is unfortunately bedridden. Like many husbands in Huancavelica, Israel often must travel to find work to support his family, often working in mining. His wife also works informally in order to help support her family.

Vicente Huarocc Repuello and Family

Vicente and his wife Epifania have 7 children, ranging in age from 18 to 32 years old, the youngest of whom is a student. They live in the San Cristóbal neighborhood, although Vicente must often leave his family and migrate to find work.

Simón Quispe Gutiérrez and Family

Fifty year-old Simón lives with his wife and daughters in the Yananaco neighborhood of Huancavelica. He often must migrate to find work, and his wife works as a laundress to support thier family, while their children also work informally.

Josefina Oré de Huamán Family

Josefina lives with her husband and daughter, and works odd jobs to survive. They are very concerned about mercury contamination in their home and would very much  like to do something about it, but they lack the resources.

Nidia Yovana Manrique Cayetano

Nidia and her sister have lived in their home with their mother from birth. The home was originally that of their grandparents who have since passed away. The family is committed to self improvement, with Rosselin studying law  and her mother working informally to pay for thier education.

Victor Huamán Trucios and Family

Victor lives with his wife, daughter and her young son. Sadly, Victor’s wife has been bedridden for several years and is unable to work. Their daughter had to leave nursing school to care for her mother, and presently works odd jobs to help her family. Victor, who is elderly, also works pasturing the livestock of his brother outside of town.

Juana Repuello Esteban and Family

Juana is an elderly widow and, like many in Huancavelica, speaks Quechua. Her husband passed away 13 years ago, and she has six children. She presently lives with her grandchild, and uses her very modest pension to support her grandchild’s studies.

Justina Jorge Taipi and Family

Justina and her husband have lived in their home for 30 years, and have three children, 12, 5 and 3 years old, all of whom attend school.