Throughout our work in the communities in the Amazon River region, we noticed a common social issue that affects the various groups. Thousands of Peruvians in rural communities do not have a National Identification Document (DNI). A DNI card is required to engage in a multitude of societal aspects such as the ability to vote, own land, marry, open a bank account, receive national healthcare, access social security benefits, and engage in formal work. Without this card many citizens remain invisible to the government and to society. However, many boundaries exist for the families that we work with to register for a DNI. These boundaries include proof of Peruvian citizenship, literacy, and money.
First, in order to register one must possess a birth or baptismal certificate proving Peruvian citizenship. However, many of the families live in indigenous or remote settings where such documents are not issued. CGCH identified this as a human rights issue that affects the families.
For the families that do possess birth certificates, literacy barriers exist. The families were unable to attend school due to their undocumented status, which means they do not know how to read or write. Without literacy, the families are unable to complete the paperwork necessary for registering for a DNI. In addition, many of the families are not educated about the importance of the DNI and the benefits they can receive as citizens.
The last barrier that exists is money. Each of the communities that CGCH works in experiences extreme poverty and is unable to afford the 24 soles (about US $8.50) required for registration.
To combat this human rights issue we partnered with RENIEC (Registro Nacional de Identificacion y Estado Civil) to set up information and registration sessions in each of the four communities where CGCH maintains a presence.
In 2011, RENIEC began offering free DNI registration to Peruvians living in poverty. Unfortunately, many of the individuals that are in the most need for the national support offered by the card are also unable to afford the time and price of travel to one of the RENIEC offices to file for a card. For this reason, we worked with RENIEC to outpost a staff member to visit each of the CGCH communities in person.
Prior to the sessions, volunteers went door-to-door informing the community about the upcoming DNI campaign and educating families. Many volunteers reported that the community members were excited about the campaign and reiterated their need for access to society.
CGCH continues to work with RENIEC and rural communities to combat this human rights issue that prevents many of the families from engaging in civil society and accessing benefits. In addition, we continue to challenge RENIEC to establish strategies to reach citizens living in poverty, so that we are only a stepping stone to establishing a long-term solution for Peruvians.
Written by Hannah Nusz