By Keosha Quigley
Members of the Amazon WaSH Project are preparing for their fourth summer trip to the Peruvian Amazon to work with the Maijuna (pronounced my-HOON-a) indigenous group. This year, team members will spend two weeks in the Nueva Vida and Puerto Huamán communities.
The Amazon WaSH Project team will begin accepting donations through their Indiegogo on March 2 to help cover costs of filter materials and supplies, as well as travel expenses. They will be building water filters for 45 families, which will help improve the lives of 200 Maijuna people. They are seeking to raise $18,500 by the March 31 deadline.
Team members have visited the indigenous Maijuna villagers, an endangered population with about 450 living people, since 2011. The Maijuna are plagued with serious health issues, such as widespread dysentery and infant mortality, due to the lack of clean drinking water. Each year, the project team teaches different Maijuna communities to build water filters, in addition to holding sanitation and hygiene workshops to help combat the spread of disease and infection.
After an initial trip, the project team always revisits the community to assess the conditions of the water filters and the general success of their work. During the post-trip evaluation of the Sucusari community, they received great feedback.
“Only two of the filters—out of 24—needed repairs, and every family that we spoke with expressed significantly less cases of illness. They were incredibly grateful for all of the hard work that we had done,” says New Century College professor Michael Gilmore, the project’s director and faculty advisor.
While the Amazon WaSH project has proven to benefit the Maijuna, it is also an invigorating opportunity for students to learn more about themselves and the world around them.
“The Maijuna have taught us the power of living simply, sustainably and more mindfully,” says Environmental Science and Public Policy graduate student and project team member Chelsie Romulo.
Romulo adds that the Maijuna’s heavy reliance on their environment was an epiphany for the egregious waste of natural resources in our own culture.
Gilmore is currently working on a film project about the Maijuna, which was created to help stop the Peruvian government from building a road through the group’s ancestral lands.
Later in the semester, the Amazon WaSH Project team will collaborate with the Center for the Advancement of Well-Being for the “Well-Being in Action Fundraiser” on April 21 on the SUB I lawn. The event will include storytelling, yoga, and tai chi, in addition to the acceptance of donations.
For more information about the Amazon WaSH Project and their work with the Maijuna, visit their website. For more information about donating to the cause, visit www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-amazon-water-sanitation-hygiene-project.