The Brazilian Amazon, particularly the Óbidos region, has been devastated by heavy rains that caused serious hardship to the people. However, since conditions have begun to improve, it has been possible to resume activities and reach communities with the assistance kits provided by the project “Prevention, vaccination and treatment for the “ribeirinhos” of the Amazon”.
The ribeirinhos tell us that there have been such heavy rainfalls in recent months, the likes of which had not been seen in the lower Amazon for 30 years. This led to a rise in water levels which for several weeks were causing many homes to flood, washing away plantations and preventing people from fishing which for local families is their only source of income. Those affected found refuge with friends and relatives living further inland or in the hills. This however led to a dramatic increase in the population density in certain places leading to a greater risk of contracting spreading Covid19, particularly amongst the younger generation.
In the last few weeks the water level has dropped allowing the boat-hospital trips to resume. Each mission brings basic necessities to local communities, such as food, water, hygiene products, baby products and medicines. They also focus on providing basic health care and carrying out triage to identify possible contagions from Covid-19 or other diseases resulting from the precarious conditions caused by the floods.
Activities to raise awareness about the use of masks and sanitizers, as well as behaviour regarding proper hygiene and social distancing, were also crucial in the meetings with the local people.
Our operation drew the attention of local authorities to the need to get the vaccine to these isolated and vulnerable people, especially in view of a possible spread of new Covid19 variants.
Today private individuals are still unable to acquire the vaccines for themselves but we have managed to reach specific agreements with the SUS – Sistema Unico Sanitario (equivalent to the Italian ASL) under which hospital ships “Papa Francesco” and “Papa Giovanni Paolo II” can vaccinate with doses provided by the Government.
It was essential to provide psychological, spiritual and fraternal support to the people that have been so badly affected by the pandemic and the floods and renew hope for better days. It is so important for those who are used to being isolated to be certain that at this time they are not alone, and that there are people from different parts of the world who are ready to support these communities at this critical moment in their history.