The rise in malaria incidence and associated illness and death in the last couple of years in Venezuela is dramatic and alarming. At greatest risk of contracting the disease are Amerindian peoples, especially in the states south of the Orinoco (Amazonas, Bolívar, and Delta Amacuro). Indian leaders from three communities and ethnic groups have asked for help: Jotï (Kayama and Iguana), Eñepa (Kayama) and Piaroa (Betania de Topocho). Malaria is literally exterminating many of them, especially children and the elderly.
Watch this heartfelt video of the Jotï explaining their grave situation.
Greetings to every person, male and female, who is watching this video.
This is Gerado Liye speaking, and these two young men are Gabriel (Jelani) and Santiago (Molo) of the Jotï Indian community of San Jose de Kayama, in Bolivar State.
Here we introduce you to these young men. We’ve come here from the community to look for medical treatments and supplies at this time for the community because there is a very grave situation occurring right now, and we want to express that we need some help, because we feel and need it. Now I am going to give Santiago a chance to express himself in his own tongue that we need your help and support.
As follows, I will now translate what he just said:
“We are a very humble people who live far from the city, in the middle of the jungle, in the Venezuelan Amazon. We want to express, very sadly, that our community is suffering from a grave situation in which Jotï and Eñepa (the two Indigenous groups that inhabit the area around Kayama) from malaria that has spiked during the last four months of the year, 2018. We want to highlight that we have more than 300 positive cases of malaria without any kind of medical treatment or supplies. The government does not help us even though we have asked for their help (to bring) doctors a thousand times. We are here in the city once again because of the emergency, as we have come to request one more time medical help for this Indigenous population but, lamentably, so far we have not received a positive response from the Ministry of Health.
If any organisations, volunteers, institution or persons want to give their support, from the heart, with medical supplies, medicines, and anything else, we will be happy to receive them with gratefulness and thanks. Thank you and many blessings in the name of God, the Father.”
How you can help
These three communities – Jotï (Kayama and Iguana), Eñepa (Kayama) and Piaroa (Betania de Topocho) – are in urgent need of supplies to prevent further spread of the infection and catastrophic loss of life. While the three possess appropriate infrastructure and personnel — local medical facility, diagnostic equipment, trained nurse, microscopist and a medical doctor willing to act in a supervisory capacity — they do not presently have sufficient medical resources needed to provide effective preventive and curative treatment of the affected population.
Send medical supplies:
If you have access to medical supplies, please consider sending a package to supply the communities’ medical dispensaries. Here are two lists of medical items needed urgently: (1) over-the-counter medicine and (2) prescription medicine. We will continue to update these lists as donations are confirmed and received.
We have put together a group of individuals and NGOs who have offered to help ensure your package reaches the communities in Venezuela.
Instructions: how to send a package
- Print the USPS label and the HAWAPO logo and attach to the package. The logo identifies donations for this project.
- Send the package to Action for Solidarity in Miami (the address is on the USPS label).
Action for Solidarity in Miami will mail your package to Acción Solidaria in Caracas, which will then be forwarded to ACOANA, also in Caracas. ACOANA, in coordination with Egleé (58-416-933-4763) and Stanford Zent (1-443-974-5473), will arrange for delivery to the three Indian communities. Two medical doctors, Oscar Noya and Magda Magris will assist with the delivery of the medical supplies to the participating communities, where they will be assisted by Indian nurses – Alirio Juae Mölö in Kayama, Lucia Liye and Balalelo Jtitekya in Iguana, Anilo Camejo in Betania. The NGO Alas Para la Salud will transport the items to the more isolated communities at a reduced budget.
Make a financial contribution
Funding is needed to purchase medical supplies and pay for transportation costs.
In August 2018, with help and generosity from friends of this project, we met our goal for the first stage of the project: to cover shipping costs of insecticide-treated mosquito nets to Venezuela. Swiss manufacturer Vestergaard matched the amount raised by donating 3,000 nets. Shipped from Vietnam, the nets reached Venezuela via the U.S. in early 2019, and were successfully transported to the three remote affected communities.
The team is now planning the second phase of their project, which focuses on carrying out research within these three communities to understand the increase in the incidence of malaria, thus allowing the implementation of strategies to reduce malaria morbidity and mortality.
We will continue to post periodical progress reports on the online campaign “No one should die of malaria today”.
Read the full proposal titled Mitigating the Health Emergency among indigenous populations of the Venezuelan Amazon (Eglee L. Zent, Stanford Zent; April 2018; Laboratory of Human Ecology, Venezuelan Institute for Scientific Research), which represents a cry for help with the current health emergency among the three indigenous communities in the Venezuelan Amazon: Piaroa of Betania de Topocho, Joti of Cano Iguana, Jotï and Eñepa groups at San Jose de Kayama.
A word of thanks, from Eglee
There were many efforts that led to the deliveries of supplies to the three indigenous Venezuelan communities, including creating awareness through personal and social networks, developing online platforms to share information on this project and receive international and national donations, and international transportation and safe storage in Venezuela. We would like to extend our sincere thanks to Daniel Hoffman (Genoa, Switzerland), Gary Martin (Morocco), Susannah McCandless (Vermont, United States) and Marina Aman Sham (Malaysia) from the Global Diversity Foundation, Action 4Help Cristóbal Plaza (Florida, United States), CAICET Óscar Noya and Magda Magris (both between Caracas and (Puerto Ayacucho, Venezuela), Feliciano Reyna and Jesús Rodríguez (both in Caracas, Venezuela) from Solidarity Action, and Mariapia Bevilacqua (Caracas, Venezuela) from Acoana, and Stephen Baker (Florida, United States) from the Rotary Club.
In addition to more than one hundred donors, the project also received valuable support from Horacio Biord and Karina Ramírez (IVIC, Venezuela), Leopoldo Villegas (Washington, United States), Henry Valero (Rotary Club, Puerto Ordaz, Venezuela), David Good (United States, The Good Project), the Vermont Quaker congregation, Enrique Nevett, and Andy and Carmelo Abreu (Next Day Cargo, United States and Venezuela), all contributing to the successful distribution of medicines, medical supplies and mosquito nets.