Projects - Current
This mission trip from July 2nd-10th, 2009 was HMO’s first to the region, but for some volunteers it was their fourth visit to the area.
Port Diana, Paraguay
The little village of Port Diana is located on the Paraguay River close to Brazil. HMO’s volunteers first visited the region in 2006 and quickly fell in love with the area.
Port Diana spreads over several miles from the riverbank. On first impression, it appears to be sparsely populated with wooden log cabins isolated from one another. The only passage between them is a villager’s walkway comprised of animal and human excrement compressed over time. The village has no electricity, filtered water, sanitation services, motorized vehicles, agriculture, or even grocery stores. The people fish in the river using a post, a string and a single paddleboat. If they do not catch any fish, they have nothing to eat.
The only army doctor in the area is a gentleman named Dr. Maldonado, who must provide services for roughly 450 kilometers. He suffers from diabetes and is scheduled to have both his legs amputated. There is no other health care available for the people.
With the local Baptist ministry’s assistance, we arrived with little fanfare. We began our journey with a flight from Toronto to Sao Paulo, Brazil (via Air Canada) for 10 hours. After a 3-hour lay over, we flew on Tam Airlines to Camp Grande (which took 3 hours), followed by another 3-hours layover and a 2-hour flight to Corumba. After collecting our luggage and boarding a bus to the local port of call, we traveled by boat down the Paraguay River for about 15 hours before arriving at the Bahia Negra military base. From there, Port Diana was a 10-15 minute boat ride away. The journey took approximately two days.
We were told that the entire region is owned and controlled by cocaine traffickers, who use it as part of their transportation route. River piracy, insects and wild animals were just some of the challenges we faced in visiting this town.
There were many villagers in need of medical and dental attention when we arrived. All of the children’s gastrointestinal areas were infected with parasites from the river water and they had fungal-infected skin. As well, we noticed that there were very few elderly villagers there, the majority of the people being either children or adolescents. Those that were there had rough, weather-beaten faces that detail the chronological hardships of the land. Many were partially blind at a young age due to cataracts on their eyes.
Although there was a building used for schooling, it was dilapidated and in desperate need of repair. On top of that, there were no pens, pencils or paper.
We asked the local leaders what they wished for most for the villagers. We suggested money, health care, housing and other services. Their only answer was “food”. Many of the villagers (especially the children) often went two or three days without food at a time.
However, they were some of the most carefree, happy children that we had ever met.
Although we could not solve all of the village’s problems, we were thrilled to provide dental assistance, medicine, clothing, paper, pencils and other aid to the people. This was a truly eye-opening trip for all of the volunteers.
Thank you letter from the Mayor