There is no better way of understanding the value of any work than to speak to the people most impacted by its activities. Ruddy Rodríguez, the Amazon Hope Programme’s Head of Administration, grew up in one of the villages which the Programme works with and still has family living there today. She shares with us what life was like and the role of the Programme today:
“As a child I lived in the community of La Pedrera on the banks of the Ucayali River. A few metres away from my house was a medical post for a population of approximately 1,500 inhabitants which was manned by a nursing technician. Sadly, there were no medicines available and the nurse technician was often absent as her home was in Iquitos, a full 3 days away by boat. This situation meant getting sick was always terrible because of the lack of services and the restrictive cost of traveling to the city in search of medical care. We felt like a forgotten people.
I got sick very often with stomach infections from the contaminated water I consumed, and because of the poor education that the population received about the use of water. For several weeks each year I did not attend school, which was one of my favorite places. The only thing you could do was to eat some plants that an elderly woman in the community recommended, perhaps with intuition that it might bring some relief.
This was the reality you had to live if you were born far from the city. Motivated by these challenges, one of my older sisters was excited to go to the city of Iquitos to work and study nursing.
As she studied, with her limited knowledge, she would provide my mother with medication so that I could be stable and continue going to school. I lived with these ailments until the age of 11 when we migrated to Iquitos, thanks to the efforts of my siblings to get us out of this beautiful but forgotten village. This is what many in our Amazon aspire to, to improve their situation.
We made a life in Iquitos, my health improved. I went through secondary school and then graduated from university in Accounting. Shortly afterwards I started working with the Amazon Hope Programme. I feel so complete and committed to the fundamental role we play in the Amazon, reaching many communities in which there are no alternative medical services. It is satisfying to see children, adults and the elderly leaving with a smile after receiving their care and medications.
They are always attentive to the talks we offer at school or in the boat. Children are no longer afraid of vaccines and the mothers are aware of how important it is to attend vaccination services so that their children can have a better development. The ‘little boat’, as they call us, is changing lives.
We have achieved something very important with the communities – their trust. Wherever we go we also always receive thanks. They know that they are not alone, we return to them, for the children who are seeing improvements in the health of the Amazon thanks to the Amazon Hope Medical Program of Peru.
I appreciate having the joy of belonging to this Programme and being part of the change so that there are no more children with the childhood that I had. I can say that, with great effort, the Amazon is changing.”
Pictured: Ruddy (left) with Elena Pila, National Director of the Amazon Hope Programme