Responding to Extreme Neglect
Belén, a community of 74,000 people adjacent to the city of Iquitos, presents the most desperate circumstances of all the communities that Amazon Promise serves in Peru. The people are extremely poor, and the town lacks the basic amenities required for healthy human life. Outdoor defecation, piles of rotting trash and contaminated drinking water are rife. Most children are malnourished.
When we started responding to residents’ calls for medical attention in Belén, we performed most of our work inside their rustic homes. The community’s demand for help quickly grew, with people lining up in mud and waste for hours to see us whenever we visited. The situation became untenable. We knew we needed to provide more organized care and services and began to raise funds to build a clinic.
Belén conditions during annual high water
Belén Clinic waiting room
In 2009, we constructed a 2,000-square-foot Belén Clinic. Like surrounding homes, it sits on stilts to accommodate seasonal flooding by the Itaya River. We held our first clinic here in February 2010 and continue to offer clinics several times a year. The building is also utilized for community meetings and educational training for local families.
The Belén Clinic has composting toilets and an ultraviolet water purification system donated by our partners, Engineers Without Borders. In November 2014, we also partnered with the non-governmental organization, Toilets For People, to install low-cost composting toilets in several houses located nearby.
Our vision is to continue to improve health conditions in Belén by increasing the number of clinics we hold there and continuously enhancing the quality and capacity of our facility.