In 2010, I was buried in a rockslide outside of Aguatia, where the Peruvian Andes and Amazon collide. The only reason I am alive today is because of the selfless actions taken by the Peruvian people to save the life of a young woman who was a stranger to them. The Amazonian people dug me out of the rubble with their bare hands; built a stretcher for me out of wooden boards; transported me when I could not walk; gave their own blood for my transfusions; paid for my medical treatment when there of no way of knowing if they would ever get paid back; brought me back to life twice when my heart stopped beating; clothed me when they found my lying naked in my hospital bed, helpless to cover myself; and stayed by my side all day and all night at the hospital, fighting for my life when I could no longer fight.
Now, these brave, kind souls are facing a life-or-death crisis. Many are faced with the stark dilemma of whether it is best to die from starvation or Covid-19. I recognize that Covid-19 is a global virus but its consequences for the poor and vulnerable people living in Pucallpa, Peru are particularly dire. Corruption is rampant and the price of medications and supplies has been inflated; social and cultural divisions are widening. As a result, the poor and vulnerable do not have access to oxygen, basic medications and supplies. They do not have the luxury of making the decision to practice social distancing. When you do not have a refrigerator or bank account, it is inevitable that foodstuffs and money will travel through many hands on a daily basis.
The Canadian Friends of Peru charity was started by Father Gregorio Chisholm. He was born in Canada but spent the majority of his life (42 years) serving the poor people of Peru. I met Father Gregorio when he was called to the Pucallpa Hospital Regional to give my last rites (the last prayers and ministrations given to an individual before death). Instead of administering last rites, he gave me a blessing and then started working day and night to collect blood donations; advocate for life-saving medical procedures/ surgery; and arrange transport to a private hospital in Lima, where they had the tools and expertise to provide additional life-saving surgery and treatment.
In 2017, I returned to Pucallpa to personally thank the people who saved my life: Percy, Karina, Dr. Belloni and many more, some of whose names I will never know. I was able to see firsthand the incredible work of The Canadian Friends of Peru. I spent a day with Padre Paulo Gama at the Pucallpa Hospital Regional, where I was hospitalized. I watched him buy medication for people who were sick and in pain; hold the hands of those who were dying and comfort their families; and advocate for the life of a young Amazonian boy who had lost his leg and had been abandoned by his family. This was all just in one day. He has been providing me with updates every couple days on his work with the sick and poor.
I am asking for your help to provide some relief to the brave and selfless people of Pucallpa. I understand these are hard times for many Canadians, so completely understand if you are unable to donate money. There are may different ways you can help. For example, you can help by sharing this page with friends and family; helping us connect with pharmacutical companies in Peru that would be willing to sell medication for a fair price; and/or providing assistance collecting donations for medical supplies, equipment and pharmaceutical medications.
Charitable monetary donations will be put towards: 1. A long-term project spearheaded by CFP to create an oxygen-generating station; 2. Covering expenses at the Good Samaritan clinic (housing and medical clinic for terminally ill and abandoned patients); 3. Purchasing life-saving medications and medical equipment for the people of Pucallpa and surrounding Amazon jungle areas; and 4. Purchasing protective equipment for health care workers and volunteers assisting the poor.
Donations are tax-deductible; tax receipts are issued by GoFundMe’s charity partner, PayPal Giving Fund.