The worst flooding in 20 years is affecting Rurrenabaque, where the Rio Beni Health Foundation has been based for the past 12 years. The Beni River, a main tributary into the Amazon River, has broken its banks and has left thousands of people homeless and an unconfirmed number of deaths. This condition is expected to worsen, and for months afterwards there will be a major outbreak of dengue fever, respiratory and gastro-intestinal diseases. The president has declared a State of Emergency.
I was planning to send out a spring appeal, sort of the ‘springing to support’ theme, but this emergency has surpassed any play on words and now I am writing to ask you to please support the work this team has been carrying out for 12 years, on a regular basis and in times of flooding disasters as this. We need your support now and for the year ahead.
The Foundation has already been asked by local health authorities and government leaders in attending to the homeless and planning for the post-flood period. Director of the Provincial Health Network and member of the Foundation Board, Dr. Pedro Chavez, and Mayor Yerko Nuñez issued the following statement and request to the Foundation team:
“We haven’t had a disaster like this in a long time. We need food, medicine, we need mosquito nets… We are treating patients on soccer fields now, but after this (stage) the epidemics of Acute Respiratory Infections and Acute Diarrheal Diseases, and mycosis will come. Dengue fever will come after (the rains) due to the stagnant water where mosquitoes lay their eggs. The Foundation is vital to this work, and has been during other flooding periods. The medications that we have will be insufficient to treat the amount of people that will become sick.”
The Director of the Foundation, Joselo Balderamma, adds the following: “flooding like this has not happened in nearly two decades, but this time it has surpassed previous records, and now there are more people affected.
Once the floods pass, the water will stay for months and bring with it skin infections, intestinal diseases, conjunctivitis, and hunger —the majority of the harvests have been lost. We will coordinate with the municipal governments so that our work reaches the greatest number of families.”
The team desperately needs the funds to continue operating, especially during this time. Direct Relief has been asked to supply an emergency donation, yet much more medicine and medical material will have to be purchased in La Paz and in neighboring Brazil, and the staff’s time to direct its attention to this while keeping the clinic and its regular outreach work operating will be challenging. Once again the team has been asked to help coordinate the emergency response and post-flood period. It will do so in collaboration with national and local health personnel.
We need your help now more than ever. Please assist the team in its efforts, now and for the months to come. Besides what our staff can do in the immediate area of Rurrenabaque, it has been asked to reach the more isolated rural areas by boat and 4WD in order to assess and treat the cases it determines a priority. The Rio Beni Health Foundation continues to be the only health care institution in the area providing outreach to over 60 villages.
For more news, please go to the following links:
Please consider making a tax-free contribution in the following ways:
Online at www.netzerbrady.org through the “Donate Now” link.
Via check to Direct Relief International, 27 S. La Patera Ln, Santa Barbara, CA, 93117 (indicating Rio Beni in the memo secton).
(DRI continues to be our fiscal agent, for which we are extremely grateful. You will receive a contribution reply with its IRS 501(c) (3) number)