Back in June you read about the new Clean Water Project being implanted in communities on the Purus River. For this to happen, it takes a lot of planning and information gathering. The last step in scouting it all out involved a series of flights by one of our missionary pilots, for our community outreach team. Join us for that trip as journaled by Eunice, the team leader.
Survey Notes, April 2019 – from Eunice’s diary
Prior research has located a section of the Purus River said to be one of the poorest strings of river villages in the Amazon. We are heading out from Manaus to see for ourselves, and to start planning how we might help.
Tuesday: Two airports closed due to bad weather… our airline red-eye got us to Rio Branco at 5:00 AM instead of 3:00 AM. Note to self: storm dodging in the wee small hours isn’t very restful.
From there, we had to get a taxi to Boca do Acre. Note to self: plan on a four hour ride and allow extra time, since the driver won’t leave until he has a full load.
A big storm was threatening when we finally arrived, but just far enough out that Asas’ small amphibious plane was able to land and get us out before it hit. The flight was great, though we had to land on the river at Pauini, our temporary base, since our pilot said the runway was growing potholes – and come to find out, the boat with extra aviation fuel hadn’t made it yet, so we were looking at severe crimping of our survey plans. Plane moored for the night, local watchman found. Lots of mud.
Wednesday: Rain, rain, rain. Flight cancelled. Boat hired. Raining harder. Boat cancelled too. Had a good meeting with local official. Federal aid currently suspended pending clarification of local government accounts. We can’t get our partnership proposal considered yet.
Thursday: Clouds still low. Wait, says the pilot. Sunshine (finally)! Pickup taxi to the river bank where the plane is beached. Lots of mud on the way. Lots of horse flies and biting gnats while we wait for the plane to be readied. Off by 10 to start the survey. Nine communities, two landings, lots of mud, but lots of information recorded. Population, isolation, access to communication, schools, and government services. Back to base.
Friday: A morning miracle – more fuel! A local air taxi agreed to lend us a drum from his stock.
Saturday: Our second take-off happens an hour later than planned. Note to self: allow more time. Plane refueling on the river takes longer. More overflights, more clusters of houses, and more info gathered.
In Porangaba: Seven houses. Health agent visits once a month with bleach and pain relievers. Plane almost too late returning to get us back, but the last flight is just five minutes – to Bela Rosa. Note to self: never get separated from overnight bags.
Sunday: The Saturday night baths were a little “punk”, in a little pond that doubles as the community dishwasher. Juggled flashlight to balance on a wet log across the mud. The community leader insisted that we stay in his house and was very welcoming. 17 families here, about 95 people all told. Grade school is functioning. High school closed for seven years – television not working. The health services boat shows up during election years. Thankfully, no drug or alcohol problems at this time. Fish not plentiful. Back to base.
Rest planned for the afternoon, but loud music in a nearby bar until late at night. Among other comments at the evaluation meeting: be tactful about local superstitions, such as the belief that washing dishes after dark will lead to a lack of food.
Back to Boca do Acre. Our Asas plane landed in light rain and finally found a safe place to dock. Lunch followed by a rough taxi ride back to Rio Branco, followed by another red-eye commercial flight… then home!
And all just part of the ministry that Asas de Socorro is involved in so that the people in the Amazon can be reached with God’s love. You can help us make a difference.