Yet another week has passed here in the Amazon, I think. After 6 weeks, it’s very difficult to tell what day it is, but I guess that doesn’t really matter out here. Anyway, here’s what we’ve been getting up to recently!
Although tangibly close to the end of a long stay in the jungle, our sixth week was perhaps the most difficult of them all for us. The excitement and intrigue of the rainforest never truly runs out, but weeks of hard work in the hot sun have certainly taken their toll. However, with a clear goal and new faces from Dr. Graham’s class, we powered on through the difficult times to achieve what we had come to do.
We are continuing to work every day towards a foundation for the clinic. This foundation is both literal and figurative in the sense that it will be the basis of construction and it shows the communities and other donors that we are serious about our work. In the past, these communities have been promised many things. They may have been dubious about whether we were in the project for the long haul at first, but with all our work, I think we have proved to them that there will be a clinic here and that we will see it through until completion.
As always, we had a couple of work days with the communities. Thanks to this work time, we are learning a lot about each of the specific communities. Although they are very small, relatively new, and in the case of Santo Tomas and Nuevo Israel, actually connected, there are many differences, some immediately obvious and some more subtle which we are beginning to notice. Although these differences so far have separated the communities, to the point that some will not work together on the clinic, we hope that a completed clinic will help unite the communities by demonstrating what can be accomplished for the common good when they are all working together. It would be awesome to see the clinic site further develop into a community center, linking all of the Orosa River villages together.
Looking back over our project so far, it is fair to say that the whole process was more work than we had ever anticipated. Although the work we have accomplished so far may seem disheartening, when one considers the primitive tools used (machetes, axes, spades, etc.), it is really quite amazing. The ambitious goals initially set by Nourish and Project Amazonas have been readjusted to reality. Now, our goal is to clear a totally flat piece of land upon which the clinic can be built. One truly cannot appreciate how much work this is until one considers that we were flattening a hillside that was in the process of being converted from wild rainforest to a dense plantain plantation. Future groups will continue the work after us, with a goal of opening the clinic this spring. (Watch this blog for future updates!)
Although not technically in my time slot for blog writing, I would like to comment on our trip to Yanashi last week. One reason for why the clinic was so necessary is that the Yanashi clinic is often inaccessible once the river level has dropped during the dry season. On our ride into the jungle in May, just after the rainy season, we passed through the small waterway between Yanashi and the communities. Although it was clearly deep and wide enough then, 5 weeks later, the water had seriously dropped. In just a couple of weeks, this passage will not be navigable by boat for several months. This presents a serious problem for anybody in need of medical attention. Although we had all been told why the clinic was necessary, it was good to actually be able to see the reasons in person.
This Sunday was our final community soccer match as next Sunday we will be heading back to Iquitos. We have been going to these games, alternating between community venues, every week to spectate and to cheer on some of the Project Amazonas staff. Much of the community comes out to watch and we have used these opportunities to strengthen our bond with the community members. Although perhaps not the final farewell, it was sad to say goodbye as we left that evening.
Thanks for reading!
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