WATER, WATER EVERYWHERE AND NOT A DROP TO DRINK…
LIFE IN THE AMAZON RIVER COMMUNITIES
Rivers, boats, water… On the Purus River, deep in the state of Amazonas, where Asas de Socorro is developing the project Água Limpa (Clean Water) for the Curumins, traveling even small distances is always a challenge (Curumins refers to kids in the common language used in the Amazon region. It is based on an indigenous word).
Eunice Bueno, leader of the Development and Transformation team in Asas de Socorro, knows well the reality of these communities along the Purus River. She reports:
“If someone is bitten by a snake here, and needs to be taken somewhere else, it can take many long hours or even days. Everything is so far away, and we can only reach these communities to develop the Clean Water Project – with all the social transformation that it brings – because we are a missionary aviation organization. We only get there because of the airplane.”
Of the 449 municipalities (counties) in the northern region, only 38 are able to offer the population adequate sanitation. (Source- www.oeco.org.br )
Why help with water on the world’s largest river system?
Jaime Ferreira is indigenous, of Paumari ethnicity. He is 37, married with four children. After accepting the Good News of Jesus Christ, Jaime became His servant and began to work in an Indian river community, among the Apurinã on the banks of the Purus.
There, as in many other river communities in Brazil, the drinking water was taken directly from the river. Now, as he himself says, “the water is filtered, clean and nice to drink”.
The project “Clean Water for the Curumins”, in a partnership between the community, Asas de Socorro, and Tearfund, built a water treatment plant in Jaime’s community, Kakuri, and in 16 other river communities in the Amazon.
“When we used to drink water, we used to chew sand. Now, the water goes smoothly down our throat,” celebrates Jaime, full of joy, telling, afterwards, how it all happened…
“The water from the Purus River is muddy but we had no other water and so we drank it anyway. Everyone from the community would go down to the riverbank and get water. In the summer, the river was lower and we had to walk far. In the winter, the river was full and the water was much closer.
We would put the water in a drum or container and use it for one or two days. We carried it on our head or on our shoulder and used it for washing dishes, making food, and drinking. It was dark, muddy water.
Children and adults had diarrhea because of the water. Sometimes, we would strain it with a cloth and some of the mud would stay in the cloth. My wife’s grandfather passed away because of diarrhea caused by the water. We didn’t have the resources to care for him, and he passed away. It is very hot here and we drink a lot, but the water didn’t quench our thirst because it was hot and muddy. And when we drank a glass, it gave us a stomachache.
But now, thanks to God, since the installation of the water tank with the filter in our community, it is very rare to see a child crying with a stomachache, with diarrhea, because everyone drinks from the clean, filtered water. We don’t have to go up and down the steep riverbank, which was very tiring. You get a big glass and drink it with pleasure, to quench your thirst.
I am very grateful to God. It was hard work, the whole community got involved to build the structure for the water tank and the filter. With the help of the community and the organizations, everything became easier. The other day a neighbor from another community came and was happy to drink our water. Everybody is happy.
What do I have to say to the people who helped us? Thank you very much for the effort made to help us. There were many struggles which took place in order to have this blessing in the community. There is no way we can ever repay you all, but I am very grateful to God and to everyone who helped,” says Jaime.
Jesus transformed water into wine. Today, in the community of Kakuri, and in 16 other river communities, it is a great blessing to see muddy water being transformed into clean water. God’s blessings in the Amazon, from God’s Kingdom acting here on earth, in our day and among us.
The challenge now is to continue the project, installing water treatment stations in 20 more communities along the Purus River next year. Support this project! Clean water for the children and residents of the communities of the Purus River, in the Amazon interior.
*Names and photos used with permission.
Original article written by Rita Santos, missionary and journalist with Asas de Socorro.