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Reforesting Santa Ana

by Gina Low

Eager youth forestors!

Eager youth forestors!

Come with me on a visit to Santa Ana…

A village of the Muyuy Islands of Peru, that is!

The islands, found in the middle of the Amazon River at its headwaters, may disappear when the water rises and covers the vegetable fields that thrive on rich silt soil and produce the crops that are the livelihood of the villagers.  While they will most likely re-appear after the flood season, sculpting river water currents will have moved trees and soil masses in this ever changing rainforest landscape where the Andes Mountains rise up from the floor of the ocean.  When the high water steals the crops it also brings disease: epidemic malaria, dengue and active TB.  This is the season of highest death rates.

 

"Find a house that has a dry porch

“Find a house that has a dry porch

We, members of APECA (Association Promoting Education and Conservation in Amazonia),* have come to evaluate the effectiveness of our Promotor de Salud (community health worker) who has lived with his family in this village for many years. 

As always, when visiting, we have brought First Aid and sanitation supplies.  We will also be encouraging the villagers to look forward to planting season and their plan for reforestation.

It is high water season now. We can see that the soccer field, the center of the village, is a pool of highly contaminated stagnant water.  Finding a house with a dry porch, we “set up shop.”  We soon have company – healthy babies, happy children, elders of the 1st generation, all doing well.  The news is good:  there is fish available in a nearby swamp and only three villagers have infected skin lesions and two, bronchitis; all manageable with our antibiotics.

The soccer field is a pool of contaminated stagnant water (on the right is one of the supports for the goal post)

The soccer field is a pool of contaminated stagnant water (on the right is one of the supports for the goal post)

 

As a surprise for the children, we have brought bread rolls and Inca Cola, their favorite soda. As we share these treats, we talk with them and their families about sanitation and distribute Clorox© bleach for the treatment of drinking and wound-cleansing waters.

 Reforestation is next on our agenda.  While the water is still high we plan for their new crop, a nursery of trees to enrich the resources of each family in the community. Important to this program are the village’s Youth Foresters, APECA trained and mentored youth who plant and nurture trees on their own land, in this way providing materials they will use as adults to build houses, insure a supply of cooking fuel and develop a business based on their efficient management of renewable resources.  Their slogan is “Vegetables 6 months, trees 6 years.  Eat today, plan for tomorrow!” 

It is clear that APECA training does strengthen a family and a community. APECA, a 501 (c)(3) organization, is looking for people in Peru and the USA to sponsor Youth Foresters.  Donations may be made at www.apecaperu.org or at APECA, Inc.  21338 Dumetz Road, Woodland Hills, CA 91364.

Coming to snack time

Coming to snack time

 

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*More about APECA:

• The twofold APECA mission is (1) to strengthen remote communities through health care, conservation and education and (2) to draw on local knowledge of the rain forest environment to assist existing programs and services of the Peruvian government.

• An important characteristic of APECA is the effort being made by the local population and visitors to El Fundo, (APECA’s headquarters near Tamshiyacu) to implement self-sustaining programs.

• Training residents in health care, midwifery, leadership and conservation, APECA bases its non-profit operations at El Fundo, which provides staff living quarters, volunteer/ visitor accommodations and working models of sustainable community projects of sanitation systems,  natural medicine, fish ponds, chicken projects and water collection systems.

• APECA invites shoulder to shoulder participation of students, professors, professionals, and the general public interested in rainforest and cultural conservation in the Amazon River basin to APECA’s study center.

• For more information on APECA click here: www.apecaperu.org

• If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, make application by sending your Email: ginalow@apecaperu.org

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