Posted on July 12, 2013
Amazon Relief brings aid and Christ’s love to "at risk" children and the poor who live in "The Green Hell"— an area near the equator, 1,200 miles up the Amazon River. The poverty in the region can hardly be described. Many children and families live in overcrowded shacks, built on stilts over perpetually fermenting sewage. There are no roads into these areas — only foot traffic over precarious docks. And then there’s the heat, the humidity, the disease, the lack of food.....
Jim Flickinger, the administrator of Amazon Relief, had this assessment following one of his many trips to help in the area:
"It’s hard to describe holding a 4-year old in your arms as she edges closer and closer to death from malnutrition."
"As I held the child, I looked around. The living conditions were typical: a one-room shack on stilts over sewage. No bathroom. No electricity. No plumbing. Temperatures of 95-120 degrees with 99% humidity and no air movement. And the smells — like living above an old-fashioned outhouse. Outside there were other children. They were friendly and seemed bright enough. But they, too, suffered from hunger and not knowing how to break out of this life of poverty. I worried about the 4-year old and her mother, and about the other children and their families. I worried about how easily despair can set in. They must wonder, is there a loving God? Does He really care? Does anyone on earth care?"
One is tempted to think that people living in these areas are “dropouts.” This is far from true. These families have typically moved here from remote jungle and river communities. The parents come with hopes that their children will have an opportunity to get an education. They come, too, with hopes of finding employment. And though the parents are bright, industrious, and have skills needed for jungle living (hunting, fishing, and agricultural), they generally cannot read or do math. The result is that they have difficulty finding any employment; and if they do, it is very low-paying. Hence, the poverty. And although there is a public school system and the children are bright and eager to learn, they quickly drop out of school for two reasons. First, the children have difficulty with abstract concepts (alphabets and numbers) and their parents can give little or no help. Second, because of their poverty many families eat only sporadic, meager meals in the course of a week. Many of the children become malnourished and cannot concentrate at school. And instead of going to school they begin to sniff glue to kill hunger pains, or young girls slip into prostitution to survive.