Thank you for your continued support and interest in the welfare of the people of the Tahuayo River. I hope you enjoy this year’s Spring Newsletter. We have had an amazing year, and we have been able to provide much needed support to the communities of the Tahuayo and beyond.
Angels of the Amazon (AOA) benefits the people of the Tahuayo River, a tributary of the Amazon River in Peru. This community consisting of multiple villages around the Tahuayo River sits on the edge of the developing world, and the little explored jungle of the Amazon.
AOA was established with the mission of assisting in the economic, medical and educational needs of indigenous people of the Tahuayo River. AOA is not looking to modernize the area. On the contrary, we are trying to retain the essence of the areas’ culture while still providing some benefits of our modern civilization.
AOA is able to be a positive bridge between the cultures to provide basic educational and medical needs while making available alternative forms of personal income that are not damaging to the precious environment. AOA encourages economical changes and growth that are sustainable to the environment, and that foster conservation.
A Review of 2009 Activities
In 2009 Angels of the Amazon (AOA) had 154 incredible donors, however overall the amount of funds raised declined slightly from 2008. Donations were received through individual requests, and from fund raising events hosted by fellow donors. The funds raised were put toward the many needs of the indigenous communities of the Tahuayo River basin as outlined below.
The health care of the communities of the Tahuayo River basin continued to be a major concern of AOA. In June 2009 the government cut the staff support of the clinic in Esperanza Village, leaving just one full time clinician, Jorge Caro. The patient load of 20-50 people per day was more than one person could handle. Using our Medical Fund, AOA hired a full time nurse, José Vilchez, who has a background in obstetrics. AOA paid for a new roof on part of the clinic, built a waiting room (funded by one donor, Carol Foss), provided for needed medications, and occasional specialized or urgent care in the city of Iquitos.
Additional funding is needed for the coming year to maintain our support of José, and the skills that he is able to provide. His expertise has proven to be invaluable to the community.
During my visit in March/April, I heard many first hand accounts of José’s care. Here is one such account from Doña Elva:
“The nurse José saved my life and my baby’s life. I was having trouble with my pregnancy, pain in my back, so I visited Esperanza clinic. After José checked me, he sent me with a written referral to AOA’s office in Iquitos. They provided the funding for me to see a gynecologist specialist and get an ultrasound. The doctor in Iquitos advised me to return to deliver my baby in the Iquitos hospital. AOA had supported me and my 3 youngest children during my stay in the city. I am so happy to say that my baby was a girl and her name is Reyna
“Don Pedro had a large hernia removed from his testicles that he lived with for many years. Eventually it grew so big that it stopped him from being able to walk, or work. Señor Pedro lives in Charo village, visited the clinic, and then was sent to Iquitos with a referral for hospital treatment.
“Thanks to the help of AOA and Esperanza clinic my suffering is over. I am able to work in my farm again.”
Another patient that we helped last year was 14 year old, Desiderio Lopez, an orphan boy that came to live with a woman on the Tahuayo River. Desi had a large, benign tumor growing on the side of his head. This young man endured the tumor for 7 years, which was disfiguring his face as well as causing pain. With support from our donors, AOA was able to pay for his surgery in Iquitos, and now the young boy has a chance to have a more normal life.
During my visit José related to me:
“There is a lot of demand for care at the clinic. Thanks to AOA we have enough staff and medicines, as well as a system for referral, so that the indigenous people have a high level of care, something that is rare in the Amazon jungle.”
Continued Educational support is another major goal of AOA. The school year started in April, and from our Education Fund AOA provided packages of school supplies to all children of the 4 upper villages. The teachers of the elementary schools and the local PTAs expressed their gratitude for AOA helping to provide supplies for the children. Historically the government has provided only elementary grade education to the villages. Many of our donors bought reference and text books to supply the schools for this past year.
We are also continuing our support of the Special Needs Children school of Iquitos, with gifts of school supplies. I will be visiting again in June to determine how we can continue helping the special children this year.
Special thanks to the over 30 donors of AOA who have sponsored children in order for them to continue their elementary school and secondary school education in Iquitos city. Some students have even gone on to enjoy post graduate training in specialized academies and universities! We salute the donor sponsors who have supported some of these individuals for many years.
Growing in popularity has also been our breakfast program. Many of Amazonia’s tourist visitors have hosted a nutritional breakfast for the children of a village during their visit. Now all of the children of the upper villages are treated to a nutritional breakfast 1-2 times a month.
AOA’s conservation program continues its work to train local hunters as conservation assistants. In this new role they are able to help collect data on the population densities of area species needed for conservation management. Hopefully this will become a trend and allow these incredibly skilled people to use their skills toward protecting the Amazon.
Along with our friends the Rainforest Conservation Fund we are working on a recycling project involving the river buses that travel to the Tahuayo River communities. With increasing economic resources in the communities we have seen increasing problems with trash, especially plastics which damage the delicate Amazonian ecosystems. With contributions made by donors, we started an environmental education program for recycling and have even hired a clown to travel to the communities to educate about proper trash disposal.
The Women’s Artisan Cooperative now has several stores that sell their beautiful handmade baskets. The earnings have empowered the native women who show increased self esteem and confidence in village life. By using sustainable and renewable products these women are not only bettering their own lives, but also helping to save their environment and preserve aspects of traditional culture for years to come!
Together with Amazonia Expeditions, AOA helped to organize the February traditional Carnaval festival in Chino village, and is planning a San Juan celebration in June. Traditional dance and music are encouraged in these festivals. This year we plan to have art teachers come to teach art to the children who are talented but don’t know how to use the materials to create their artistic pieces.
A contribution by AOA was made to select Peruvian Andean villages along the Urubamba River that suffered disastrous floods in late January. Occurring in between the natural disasters in Haiti, Chile and Uganda, the Andean flooding did not attract the world’s attention, or donations. These record floods completely washed away several villages whose homes were made of adobe mud. Few lives were lost but nearly 100,000 people were left homeless.
The majority are still living in tents, with few resources such as stoves to cook food. From our emergency fund, a donation from AOA was made to buy stoves, pots and pans, and aluminum zinc sheets for house roofs. In May, AOA is partnering with Play it forward Adventures to build school tables and chairs, and to work in a local farm planting fruit trees that were destroyed by the flood.
Our Goals for the coming year
With the continued support of our donors we have much planned to assist the communities of the Tahuayo River. We have the opportunity to continue to provide basic and emergency medical support, to supply educational supplies to children, make available new opportunities for villagers to earn money without hurting the environment, and to help preserve the incredible Amazon ecosystem that we all love.
Because administrative support is completely provided by Amazonia Expeditions, we are able to ensure that 100% of your donation goes directly to our mission. In the year ahead we plan to continue to improve the Esperanza . clinic, build our emergency medical and school funds and expand our conservation efforts. Your support will have a direct impact on the communities of the Tahuayo River.
We need your continued support. As you can see AOA continues its work to improve the lives of the indigenous people. We understand that it is hard in the current economic climate to justify extra expenses, however when you see how much just a small sum of your income can mean to a person from these communities, that their baby can be born, that they can survive another year, that they can educate their children. It is an investment in future of the rainforest and its people.