This area, especially affected by the earthquake in March 1983, is populated by about a thousand families amounting to five to seven thousand people of whom half are under ten years of age. The average wage of a family of six is 1800 pesos, or $US0.5 per person per day, which only allows for the minimum basic food. Nothing is left over for the home, clothes, health, education or transport. Unemployment is endemic and three families out of four cannot afford the minimum basic necessities of life. A health survey conducted by Dr Lamour shows that five out of six children are diagnosed with illnesses requiring treatment, such as malnutrition, infections caused by parasites, urinary tract infections, skin disease and tooth decay.

After thirty years of life in the religious community of the Petites Soeurs de la Sainte Famille in Canada, Sister Margarita Maria Lajoie decided to leave her parish to come here to Popayan, to pursue her vocation as a missionary. So she co-ordinates the lay institution of the Servantes Fidèles de Jésus (Faithful Servants of Christ). She could not speak a word of Spanish and it took all her faith and courage to confront the terrible misery and the persistent tensions arising from the political climate in the country. The terrible earthquake of 1983 would wipe out thousands of lives and all the work of Margarita. Today, aged 74, (although appearing 15 years younger) she is still fighting, on a daily basis, with unrestrained tenacity, to keep her nursery going and pay the wages of 28 employees of her 'business' which is growing and looks after more children each year.