Letter from Peru

by Patty Webster
Founder and President, Amazon Promise

Summer 2023 Update

Upon arrival at the community of San Francisco in late July, I was greeted by a young man who asked me if my name was Patty. I said yes, he smiled and shook my hand. He said his name was Leterman and began to tell me when he was a child, he remembered his father putting him into a canoe and paddling him for several hours to the Yarapa River where doctors were holding clinic.

Patty Webster (in Detroit t-shirt) in Peru.

I asked him how old he was back then, and he said about three years old. I asked him his age now, and he answered, 33. I imagine Letermen was one of our very first little patients back in 1993. Back when hardly anyone had a boat motor and had to paddle hours to get to where we were holding clinic. Back when it took us almost 24 hours to reach the Yarapa from Iquitos by boat.

Years later as our outreach expanded to more communities, we began bringing our teams to San Francisco.

He went on to thank me and all the doctors for always being there, and for helping his community for so many years.

Letermen has a family of his own now, and hearing his recollections of being seen by our medical teams so long ago was so very touching. You don’t always think about the impact of the work until you hear stories like Letermen’s.

Back from the field

I’m happy to report the July Amazon Promise medical outreach team has just returned from the field providing medical and dental care to 754 people during four clinic days.

We traveled far, by bus, boat, and on foot, to reach the jungle communities of Amazonas and San Francisco on the lower Maranon River. Two communities we have worked in for many years and who both now have potable rainwater systems.

We then returned to the city of Iquitos to provide care in the village of Isla and spent the last day working from our Belen Clinic.

We want to thank all of our team members who worked long hours, often into the evening, to ensure that everyone received the best care possible. We were also grateful to have a ministry of health nurse accompany us to the jungle to provide vaccinations to both adults and children. Our partners from the AIDS Healthcare Foundation provided education and testing for HIV and sexually transmitted infections at our clinics in the city.

Providing quality medical care, health education and clean water to vulnerable populations living in remote Amazonian jungle communities and underserved urban neighborhoods has been our primary focus for over 30 years.

Your support has been essential. We can’t do it without you!

How we’re helping right now

We continue to see more and more people suffering from undiagnosed diseases and delayed treatment due to the COVID pandemic. The long-term impacts continue to reveal a growing number of adults and children with undiagnosed cancers, diabetes and other chronic diseases.

Follow-up care and home visits for patients after clinics, and for those who arrive at our door throughout the year, are vital for helping people get back on their feet. Our staff on the ground in Iquitos is working every day helping people in need, as well as continuing work on our potable water and family planning programs.

Luis’ Story

As I write this, we are providing aid to Luis, a 12-year-old boy who has been diagnosed with Leukemia, which requires a blood transfusion every 20 days. Luis was abandoned by his parents when he was just 8 months old. He is being raised by his great-grandparents who live in a humble wooden house located in the port area on the outskirts of town.

Luis and his great-grandfather, Eugenio, showed up at our recent clinic in Belen seeking medical care and told us of their difficult situation. Luis doesn’t have a government ID so is unable to receive ministry of health insurance, SIS, which would provide coverage for some of his basic medical needs. Many of the advanced medicines, laboratory tests and supplies required for his care are not included with SIS coverage. This is where Amazon Promise steps in to make the difference for his survival as well as many others in need right now. 

Luis has had a very tough life from the start and needs our help.

Your support allows us to make incredible and meaningful differences to people, like Luis, who are in need right now. Thank you for caring!

Clean Water Update

Jose Luis Valles, Amazon Promise’s in-country special projects manager, has just finished working with our partners at Engineers Without Borders – Detroit to implement the second potable rainwater harvesting system in the village of Libertad. This is the18th community potable water system built.

Our medical team was recently in Libertad and got a look at this beautiful second construction. Everyone in the village is excited and proud of this successful joint effort.

Belen and Hipolito

Working from our Belen Clinic on May 26th, the Amazon Promise team provided medical and dental care, laboratory exams, and health education to 188 adults and children. We were also pleased to include traditional healer, Orlando Tamani working alongside our team to provide spiritual and traditional medicine care. Our partners from the AIDS Healthcare Foundation were also present providing education and testing for HIV and sexually transmitted infections.

This area of Belen is flooded for several months of the year making it difficult to get around, but our determined team traveled by motorcar, on foot, and canoe to reach the clinic!

Also in May, we provided care in the remote community of Hipolito located on a small stream about a mile in from the Amazon River.

Our medical team made the five-hour journey by bus, boat, on foot, then took a jungle motorcycle pickup, to reach the community to provide medical and dental care, health education and laboratory services to 120 people.

Thank you, to all the amazing team members! 

Doctors: Lucero Inuma, Magaly Padilla, Jearim Apaza, Brizy Inga, Diana Gonzales, Richard Rohrer, Jana Mooster, and Greg Dopolus. Educators: Angela Valcarcel and Fredy Paima. Dentists: Nolia Chávez Bartra, Gian Marcos Satalaya, Giuliana Cardenas. Lab techs.: Nolberto Tangoa Rengifo, Margolith Tangoa. Nurse midwife, Milagros Saldaña, and Nurse, Filida Malaverry.

The Amazon Promise expert logistical team! 

Adriana Lujan, Nancy Bardales, Dorca Ayambo, Segundo Coloma, Alter Coloma, and Ricky Coloma (The Coloma Family), Jose Luis Valles, Teofilo Pinchi, Brooklyn Demme. 

With love and gratitude,

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