Traveling and working with someone can be a difficult task. You spend almost every waking moment together. You share meals, a bathroom, living quarters- you name it. The person is always there. Compound that with work that both people are passionate about. Work that both people have spent years of their lives pursuing. Work which they’ve invested everything they have into—financially, emotionally, creatively—which now embodies all their dreams, desires, hope, and passion.
Add to this situation two individuals who are both accustomed to walking their own respective paths. Two close friends who find themselves bound together by a common dream, both still unsure just how to obtain the lofty goal they’ve set for themselves.
Sounds pretty intense doesn’t it?
Welcome to the Jungle!
[Click the "learn more" button to get the rest of the story.]
To say that AidJoy has come a long way would be (at least in my opinion) an understatement. Less than three years ago we were drafting and re-drafting paperwork; trying to explain to the IRS what AidJoy was before we were even sure ourselves. We’re still not completely sure. We have always been sure of one thing though: that there is a need (a very large need) to develop and be a voice for unsung charities, and that we can utilize our skills to satisfy that need. Through doing so we can become larger than ourselves, able to reach beyond our own wants, needs, and desires, and actually help to fulfill the needs of others.
We are so blessed to be where we are today, and I want to thank everyone who has been a part of AidJoy.
So where are we today? Geographically speaking, Jonathan and myself are in Iquitos, Peru- Jim is holding down the fort in Greenville, South Carolina- and our board and council members who share our vision for AidJoy—and have graciously believed in our ability to realize that vision—are scattered about The States, waiting for news. Likewise our sponsors, most notably Ken Zwerdling at Foreign Translations who directly funded this project, but also the wonderful people at Immedion, Watershed Cabins, Nimlok, and Eloquia without whose support we would certainly not be where we are today. And of course there’s our volunteers. To date over 70 individuals have invested their time and expertise into making AidJoy an effective reality. Thank you. Really!
But again- so where are we? What’s going on? Que Pasa?
The last three weeks we’ve been investigating stories in the Peruvian Amazon. We’ve spoken countless times to our friend Dr. Ernesto Salazar, the former Minister of Health for Loreto, Peru. We’ve interviewed medical students who have spent time in the regional hospital as well as in rural clinics and aboard Project Amazonas’s medical boat. We’ve gone to health clinics in the rural cities of Mazan and Pevas, and in the village of San Francisco, to talk to doctors, nurses, technicians, and obstetricians. We’ve gone into homes in remote communities to talk to mothers and fathers about their children’s health and their past experiences with health care- to discuss their lives, their losses, and their needs.
All of this to gain a better understanding of health care in the Peruvian Amazon and to locate the one story that would best convey to a broader audience what life is like here, who the people are, what they do for a living, and the challenges they face in raising healthy families.
We found that one story.
A story that is unique to the Amazon Rainforest. A story that could never happen anywhere else but here. A story that will amaze and inspire you– make you question who you are, and make you thankful for all that you have in the World.
I believe Jonathan will share our discovery of this story with you in the next couple of days. He’s been searching for the best words (they’re difficult to find when trying to do this story justice) while I have busied myself with developing peripheral projects that will support this core story.
The real challenge still lies ahead. Next week our two videographers, Marni Walsh and Leigh Reagan, arrive from Wyoming to spend the month of May with us.
We’ve found the story, set the groundwork, and prepared the logistics. We’re now ready to get down to the most intense part of the work. The first half of May we will travel back to the remote region of the Amazon where our story originates. From there we will trace its winding path, from its compelling start, to its dramatic finish. I can promise you it will be quite a ride!
The second half of May we will spend on a two-week medical expedition with Project Amazonas to the Rio Ampiyacu where there are indigenous communities of Huitoto, Bora, Yagua, and Ocaina. An international medical team anchored by Peruvian doctors and nurses will go into these communities, set up clinics, and attend to the people’s needs. We will be there to lend a hand and document the entire experience.
We will share all of it with you.
It will take some time to do it right- but it will be worth the wait I assure you.
In the meantime Jonathan and I are here, sweating, butting heads, laughing, working hard, making new friends, and trying to maintain our own friendship while fighting to realize AidJoy’s vision and our mutual dream.
It’s a hard and bumpy road here in Iquitos, in the Amazon Jungle, but we’re going to make it. I’m sure of it!
I’d like to dedicate this post to my friend, my colleague, my brother:
I love you Jonathan.
For you visual learners out there I’ve put up a lot of photos on AidJoy’s Facebook page of Jonathan and me working, smiling, and chasing our dreams.
Check them out Here.
…and thanks again for coming along with us for the ride.
3 Responses to “Chasing the Dream in the Peruvian Amazon”
mattdecamara on April 28th, 2011 at 10:18 am:
Very cool post, Mike. I look forward to seeing the finished product.
Daphne on May 4th, 2011 at 11:58 pm:
Very heartfelt and heartwarming. I’m really enjoying reading about your and Jonathan’s experiences (and hearing about them and seeing them in pictures). You’re two really inspiring fellows! And, Mike, I just love how sincere and dedicated you are. (Your post was well-written, too.) Thanks for sharing your feelings and thoughts. I’ll keep reading.
Michele Bergen on May 15th, 2011 at 3:47 am:
Glad to see you are happy and productive. Keep up the good work.