Last week Paulo and I (Danny) returned to Beni with 80 more Sawyer filters. From Trinidad we flew in a small plane to San Borja, a town of 42,000 that has been cut off from the rest of Bolivia by the flooding. The Maniqui River, overflowed its banks and threatened to flood the town. It receded more quickly than the Mamore River near Trinidad, but still left hundreds of Tsimane communities devastated. We heard stories of how quickly the river rose and came into the communities. People told me they only had time to grab their children and seek refuge in the rafters of their wooden homes. Unlike the homes on the Mamore River, the Tsimane houses are made from poles, with bamboo walls and grass roofs. They are not raised up on stilts. All of their clothes, cooking utensils, and possessions were washed away. All of their crops were destroyed. When we visited two communities last week we met so many families who had nothing but the clothes on their backs. So even though the water has receded in Trinidad, the families are starting over from scratch. All of their hand-dug wells have been fouled by the flood waters and the only water they have to drink is gathered from muddy brown Maniqui River.
It is hard to know how even begin to help these families. We went along on our visit to Puerto Codo and Natividad with Juan and Wendy, a local pastor and his wife, and Candido, the president of the Gran Consejo of the Tsimane communities. Candido is the voice for 130 Tsimane communities located on the remote rivers of Beni, Cochabamba, and La Paz, almost all of which have been affected by the flooding. Juan, Wendy, and Candido all have a real desire to meet the extreme needs of these many communities. We brought food, clothes, and water filters to these two communities. Really, just a drop in the bucket, considering the great need that we see all around us. It is always exciting to see how excited the people get when they see muddy water transformed into clean drinking water with the Sawyer filter. In the photo gallery below you can see the joy on the faces of these people as they drink the clear filtered water.
We have decided to provide one filter for each school and church in San Borja, about 20 in total, that will serve the urban population, and we will provide one filter for each of the 130 Tsimane communities. I wish we could give a filter to each family, but that just beyond our capabilities right now. Juan and Wendy will be training teachers and community leaders in how to use the filters and they will be taking them back to their remote communities, some of them more than one week away by river travel. In the coming months we hope to be able to provide filters for individual families as well.
As you can see from the aerial photos, the flooding in and around the city of Trinidad continues. Many communities have been under water for two months now. So many people are praying for the beginning of the dry season so the rivers will have a chance to drain, but as of now it continues to rain. So many other communities and town in Eastern Bolivia and Brazil are also flooding. I read yesterday that 22,000 families in Brazil have been affected by the flooding.
Thank you so much for you continued support of our efforts to be Christ’s “hands and feet” during this crisis. Please continue to pray and give.