"I was left with a smile on my face, with my faith and hope at 1000%, but above all I was delighted to be a witness of the love and trust of that child towards God," said the photographer who captured the moment.
This story happened on Junin Street, in the town of Guadalupe, in the La Libertad region, in northwestern Peru (even the address of this Peruvian town seems to be taken from a movie script!). It was in this place that the image of a child kneeling alone in the middle of the street managed to move the heart of entire social networks, because deep down he was humbly asking God for an end to this oppression that is shaking the entire world: the coronavirus pandemic, a situation that has even led Latin America to consecrate itself to Our Lady of Guadalupe.
At least this is the explanation given by Claudia Alejandra Mora Abanto, who took the photograph of this young boy’s special moment on the street during curfew and confinement. She later talked about it on her Facebook account and kindly gave Aleteia permission to use the image:
“Today in the neighborhood we came together to pray and ask God for help with the emergency situation we are living, so that in this way we could share hope and faith. I took advantage of the minutes before the people went out to their doors to pray, to take a photo of all the candles. It was a satisfying moment when I found this boy and, taking advantage of his concentration, I took the picture.”
“Then I asked him what he was doing, and he answered in his innocence that he was asking God for a wish on his own, and that he went out because there was a lot of noise in his house, so otherwise his wish would not be fulfilled,” she continued.
Claudia concludes, “I was left with a smile on my face, with my faith and hope at 1000%, but above all I was delighted to be a witness of the love and trust of that child towards God. How beautiful it is that these virtues are instilled in them, even in difficult times.”
Later it was revealed, thanks to a report published by Peruvian news outlet RPP, that the boy is named Alen Castañeda Zelada. He’s six years old and he made this decision to go out to the streets to pray to God because of the love he feels for his grandparents, whom he has not seen since the confinement in Peru began.
“(I) pray that (God) will take care of those who have this disease. I’m asking that no one go out, many elderly people are dying from this disease,” said the little boy, according to the Peruvian news outlet.
For his part, the boy’s father also made it clear to the local press that his son wanted to go out into the street for a moment to pray because of the noise in the house.
“We’re a Catholic family and I was quite surprised (…). My son is a little boy of six and I didn’t think he would react like this, it has been a surprise for all of us,” he said.
“In God’s hands”
This particular scene of Alen praying for the end of the coronavirus also takes place in the context of a neighborhood where prayer is public and unabashed. Several members of the neighborhood coordinate to make a prayer chain every night, and many of them go out to the doors of their homes to pray together, albeit at a distance.