By Dr. Susannah McCandless, GDF North America Director
Community health authorities used the project-funded radio recently to convey a list of needed supplies to Jöti teacher Gerardo, who continues to self-isolate in the city with his young family. Gerardo reached via phone out to Egleé, who painstakingly assembled four enormous boxes of over-the-counter medications and supplies to be delivered to his home community. She just shipped them via courier from the U.S. to the nearest possible location to Gerardo’s hometown.
And for now, that’s where they’ll have to stay.
“The most important message,” Egleé writes,”is that there is NO way to get to the communities, due to COVID-19…. We are sending meds, to have them stored in cities surrounding the communities, for when access is possible.” She hopes to travel a little later this year, to help deliver those packages.
For now, as coronavirus sweeps the interior of South America, the strategies Venezuelan Indigenous communities have developed to protect themselves from contagious diseases seem to be serving them well. When families learn of the threat of a potentially serious communicable illness, they socially distance, leaving gathering places and moving deeper into the forest.
“Good news is no reports of cases [of COVID-19] among the Jöti, Eñepa or Piaroa. Not much incidence of malaria either,” writes Egleé. “All seems frozen. Incertitude seems to be the constant, now more than ever, in the Amazonian region.”
While we all wait, we thank you for your support of this project, which has enabled us to be an effective relationship to these three communities, and to respond to their carefully articulated needs. With your help, we were able to provide robust tools to address the malarial outbreak, deliver critical medications, and most recently, to make sure each community has the means to communicate their current situation via radio. With your continued support, we will be ready to respond, together with communities, to what comes next.
This article was submitted as a report for the No one should die of malaria today campaign on GlobalGiving.