July 29, 2019

Blog Update: Iquitos

Andrea Shelton and I have had a busy couple of weeks here in Iquitos. Our last couple of weeks have centered around continuing the Academia Familiar del Amazonas (AFA) program started by last year’s Peru Scholars. The intention of this program is to support the women of the Claverito Community with education sessions addressing issues they have identified as priorities. Therefore, we spent a week planning and implementing a community meeting meant to identify their priorities. We even held a train the trainer’s event where we prepped two facilitators on the planned activities and purpose of the meeting.

All were welcome at the community meeting for women.

The community meeting was held on a Sunday morning on the newly built community platform and was a huge success! All women ages 12 and over were invited to the meeting. We divided the women into two groups based on age: 12-17 years old and 18 years old and up. Then everybody completed two activities where they wrote down specific subjects they wanted to discuss. Subjects did not have to be directly related to their physical health, but all are linked to their overall well-being in some way. We were so pleased and excited to see the women express interest and a willingness to be part of AFA. We could not have completed this community meeting without tremendous help from members of the community and members of the InterACTION Labs team. When we arrived at the community on Sunday morning, members of the community had already put up a tent, table, and chairs for the women. The UW medical students and landscape architect students kept all of the little kids entertained with coloring while two members of the greater Iquitos community ran the meeting.

Members of the InterACTION Labs team setting up for the community meeting on the new platform.

The next week was spent translating the answers and determining what local resources are available for addressing the identified priorities. We are now in the process of visiting several local government offices in order to learn about services already available and how Claverito community members can access the services. Since several resources are already available in Iquitos, our goal is to make sure the women know what services are available and how to access them.

Andrea Shelton and I outside the hospital before our first shadow experience.

We have also been shadowing several doctors and nurses in the maternity ward of the Regional hospital, Felipe Santiago Arriola Iglesias.” We were allowed to attend two births and multiple lectures. Besides the births, my favorite part was getting an in-depth description of the World Health Organization’s form used in the hospital to track progress during labor and determine high-risk situations.

For fun over the last couple of weeks, we have been exploring Iquitos and the Amazon. We spent a couple of days in the Amazon jungle fishing for piranhas, bird watching, searching for monkeys and learning what plants people living in the jungle use for medicine. We took a boat ride around Claverito community to look at the vegetation islands that get created as the Amazon water level rises. We saw countless different birds and plants. The water level is receding quickly and in about two weeks we will be able to walk through this same area! We also participated in a local “marathon” that is a fundraiser for four local houses serving vulnerable populations. We were very concerned at first because the race was being advertised as a marathon. Needless to say, we were very relieved to find out the marathon was a four-kilometer walk/run!

Members of the InterACTION Labs team wearing our race t-shirts.

Andrea Shelton and I on the Amazon River during our jungle adventure.


Until next time!