Dear Friends of Angels of the Amazon,
We made so much progress since our September 2011 Newsletter; I had been looking forward to sharing all of the great news. The Christmas party sponsored by AOA was a great success. The floor of the clinic got new tiles and a drop ceiling was added. Two full time nurses are now paid by AOA to work at the clinic, in addition to one paid by the government. One nurse that AOA pays for has an obstetrics specialty; the new nurse hired has a background in emergency and trauma care. Educational packets were assembled and distributed to the elementary school students. Our sponsored scholars are doing well (with only a couple of exceptions).
In one of the most inspiring events of recent years we hosted a group of 23 dentists and assistants, from the group “Healing the Children NE.” They treated hundreds of people during a 9 day stay at the lodges of Amazonia Expeditions in March. About $275,000 in dental care was provided, including more remedial care and cleaning than extractions, testimony to the overall decent dental health enjoyed on the Tahuayo River. This group of dentists has been doing trips in remote regions for 18 years, and found the infrastructure provided by the AOA to be the best they have ever experienced.
But just when things were looking so good, the greatest natural disaster in the recorded history of the region struck. The flood in 2011 was the highest ever recorded on the Tahuayo and second highest depth of the Amazon River ever measured by Iquitos (after 1986). But another long, hot summer in the Andes resulted in a glacial meltdown that was truly horrific for April 2012.
The Amazon River crested at a depth about 3 meters greater than ever measured before. Most of the suburbs that surround Iquitos were flooded. Schools, universities and other institutions were closed and turned into emergency shelters to take care of some 400,000 left homeless by the flood. Hundreds of tons of food were airlifted from Lima. Jungle communities within hundreds of miles were flooded and farms were washed away.
Some people in the jungle communities fled to Iquitos, only to find a disaster there. Others took their livestock and hiked up into the hills, building simple lean-tos out of palm leaves. But most have elected to stay in their homes, building a floor in the rafters or a raft tied to the roof of their home.
Angels has responded by delivering food, blankets and plastic tarp to the residents of the Tahuayo who are trying to tough it out, remaining by their homes. Eventually the alluvial deposits of Andean minerals will enrich the farmland. But until the farms are re-planted and harvested the villages will need more food aid.
Once the floodwaters recede there will be much more work to do. The clinic and the schools will need to be cleaned and repaired, people will need help with their homes and farms and the children will need to catch up from months of lost school time.
Please help us in this most important time, so we can care for the people during this time of disaster, and quickly restore the communities of the Tahuayo River once the flood recedes.
One child at a time!
President, Angels of the Amazon