>>>We reached over 1000 people with our public lectures and educational HIV workshops. Our lectures and private sessions were interpreted from Spanish to Quechua and Achuar in places where such services were needed.Upon demand, we handed out 2 700 free condoms and administered HIV tests upon request. More that 200 individuals were counseled on HIV, STIs and family planning.<<<
Insufficient –or plainly nonexistent—awareness of the dangers of the HIV and other ST infections in the Achuar, Quechua and the mixed Meztizo communities lays the ground for an HIV epidemic outbreak on the river Pastaza. In no place we have visited is there a reliable source of HIV-prevention education, and no condoms are available in the region (with the exception of Andoas where a purchase is possible at high cost). We have informed the Regional Ministry of Health of the situation.
In addition, we also visited the Secondary School in Andoas where we continued our workshop we had begun the year before. Our new video produced by AP and Lazos de Vida generated a discusssion of such topics as self-respect and responsible sexual behavior. In the school, we also continued orientating the teachers and extended our collaboration on HIV-prevention exercises. The teachers received from us a concise guide for an STI-prevention workshop to be conducted in our absence.
Exilda, our indispensable boat driver and Quechua interpreter.
After Andoas, our first place to visit was the village of Warari; a place beloved by AP for its people: a very traditional Achuar family who has been inviting and friendly to us since the very first expedition in the 1990's. One of the sons, Puanch, has been traveling with us for the last two years, getting trained as a Medical and HIV Promoter. His village is in the midst of the jungle up the Tunigrama creek where trees whisper, and fireflies flicker at night. After clinic, we were offered not only masato, the fermented yucca drink the Achuar women chew up and spit into buckets, but also the beautiful Achuar masato vessels to keep. It took us the whole day to go up river and back. As we were returing, a storm overtook us on the Pastaza river. Everything suddenly turned into water, including our breath. Soaked and freezing, we finally moored back in Andoas. It was worth every penny.