Peru is a very long way away! Over 6,000 miles from Essendine.
Famous for Paddington who comes from the deepest, darkest of jungles … which is very exciting unless you need access to medical services. What happens then?
The Vine Trust, a Christian Scottish charity, started the Amazon Hope Medical Programme in 2002 and has provided over 2 million consolations. Working on six major rivers of the Amazon basin, their two boats reach communities that are otherwise, more or less, inaccessible.
To set the scene, there are roads connecting the little riverside communities with each other or with the main city of Iquitos, which itself is only reachable by plane or boat. If you live on the river, eg five hours from Iquitos by boat, and you have an accident or fall ill, you are in trouble. There are small medical clinics and outposts but they may not always have any medical staff or medicines. Sometimes, sadly, it could be that transport isn’t available, it’s too far, or people cannot pay for treatment, people die from wounds and sickness easily treated in our context. That’s simply the way it is.
The Vine Trust boats are able to offer these really remote communities basic primary health care. There are rough itineraries that boats follow that allow regular medication to be delivered to those with chronic illnesses eg diabetes. Dental services, contraception, maternity care and childcare are some of the basics provided. The medical teams are able to perform minor operations and to respond to any emergency that happens when the boat is visiting. Recently, mental health care has been provided too.
The regional government and the Vine Trust have a range of medical and dental staff on the boat and these are supplemented by volunteers mainly from the UK (volunteers from 19 different countries have served on the boat).
I’ve volunteered three times now – as a pastor to the various teams. We’ve seen wonderful wildlife, stunning sunrises and sunsets, visited villages of extreme poverty, sampled (er …) exotic food, heard tales of hope and experienced amazing sharing and caring and friendships. We’ve also been challenged by situations that make you realise the need for the boats.
I wouldn’t have missed it for anything and I’m happy to tell you more. But first, please have a look at the website vinetrust.org. Or contact me firstname.lastname@example.org