Most who work in Iquitos only make enough money to eat for the day. The government has tried to help the people, but the food and cash payouts have fallen FAR short of what is needed. People are being forced to stay in their homes due to the quarantine, but many desperate people are breaking the curfew to look for work or food which is difficult to find. The jails are also now overloaded with those that have been arrested for these violations, further endangering their families. There are no masks, gloves, or disinfectants. The single hospital in town cannot handle the sick.
It costs about $3 USD to feed a family of four (rice and beans are cheap) if they ration, you can feed a family of four for $1.50 USD. It hurts me to say that we cannot save the entire city of Iquitos, but through our focused efforts, we can help the neighborhood of Tupac Amaru - about 800 people - survive until the quarantine is lifted...
On behalf of the children of the Amazon, I pray to all the gods and spirits that will listen - please bring help to these people, and please give ME the strength and the courage to do what I can to make that possible.
The children of the Amazon, the Madre's children, are starving and suffocating and dying in the street over the virus and they need help. I know that the universe is alive and conscious, and I know that whatever blessings you can give to these people, the universe will return them to you 10 fold. I know this and so do you. To everyone who has been to Peru and received something from the Amazon, the time is now more than ever to give something back. I kindly push, without judgements - do not just be a taker. Be a giver. Even $1 and sharing this with a friend can save someone's life today.
My name is Alex Avakian and I have been to Iquitos twice. I am running this campaign alongside my friend Davide Grumelli, an Italian who has lived in Iquitos for 12 years in the Tupac Amaru neighborhood, running an AirBnB named Casa Italia. He has a 9 year old Peruvian son as well. Peru is home to him. Davide has already spent everything he had to feed those he could. But with 5 months of AirBnB bookings cancelled and his savings depleted, he cannot do anymore from a financial perspective. This is the reason we turn to you.
As I said before, we cannot save the city, but through him we (as in - everyone who reads this) has a direct connection to Iquitos where we can make a REAL difference and get food distributed and rationed in an organized way. The goal is to focus on the 200 families in that neighborhood that we can really make a difference for.
Below is his description of the situation there.
I have spent the past 12 years of my life dedicated to the jungle. I volunteer as a teacher to the poorest children of the Amazon, helping them get a better education so that they may got to college someday. I also teach them how to preserve the river and the jungle, their most precious resource and the lung of the world. Now with COVID-19 in Iquitos we are dealing with much bigger problems. About 90% of the population here only makes enough money to eat for the day. After one month of quarantine the situation is dramatic and terrifying beyond anything I have ever seen. People cant work and they don't have food. In the beginning, the government only gave 4 kilos of rice for one month for a family of 5 or 6 people, and not all the families even received that. People had to ignore the quarantine, risking their lives, looking for work which did not exist and then to dig for food in the trash. Then, the government said it was to give $200 dollars for one month to try and make people stay home, but in Iquitos only a handful of families received that bonus because they are not in the economic system as they do simple jobs like sell food, drive motorcycle taxi’s etc.
The end result, and I say this with tears in my eyes, is that they are completely abandoned! Nobody will help them. Many families and children are starving. In some places they don’t even have WATER or basic medicine. There is only one hospital here which was overwhelmed and depleted of everything a few months ago because there was an epidemic of dengue which killed many. There are no tests in Iquitos for COVID-19. Thousands are out trying to find work during the curfew trying to feed their children and have been arrested. The prison is overflowing creating an additional cesspool for COVID-19. Citizens have been attacking the military guards trying to steal water out of desperation, and now the army has been given orders to shoot people if this situation worsens. In Ecuador, where the virus came a few weeks before, people now die in the street or alone, slowly, in their homes. Others burn the bodies in the street. Now - these people are trying to go to Peru. We fear that in Iquitos the situation can become even worse than this. There are no masks, no gloves, no disinfectants, no doctors, no nurses, no police and soldiers are getting sick and ready to quit and give up their job. The Peruvian health minister says that if they lose control of the region, there is the possibility of abandoning and isolating the entire region.
I know I can't help the whole city but I feel obligated to help at least my neighborhood which is about 200 families of around 4 people each. It’s only a drop of the ocean but if each of us does something, all together we can do a lot.
I will never give up on these people, my neighbors and my community members, which are now my people. I spent everything I had to feed those I could. I will do anything I can to help. I also organized a group of locals, headed by my neighbor Boris Cisneros who will help me buy and distribute food and medicine for the people in my neighborhood, and I ask for the help of all the family and friends who know me personally. I gave everything I had but with 5 months of booking on my AirBnB already canceled I have no more savings to help. For this reason I ask with humbleness and sincerity for even the donation of a single dollar that could save lives.
Rice and beans are cheap and the grocery stores are selling things at low cost. $3 American dollars can feed a family of 4 for a day. If they ration that you could feed a family of 4 for $1.50. That means for .37 cents you can keep a child of the Amazon from starving. There are people going through hard times everywhere in the world, but please see the value that your dollars can bring here. If we can get these people through this nightmare until the country reopens and things return to normal, hopefully we can save Iquitos, and save lives, and give something back to the people of the jungle who are so wonderful and filled with love and give so much to us and to the world.
I have also created a Facebook page here where I will be posting photos and videos of the situation and how your money helps.
Thank you so much to everybody for reading and helping. I wish you blessings and good health.
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