Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Quest to Build the Health Care Center: A story of concrete and metal in pictures

Good news, we are doing it!

After years of fundraising and planning, we have finally started building the center.  From April to June of 2022 we bought materials, transported them, and found skilled workers to do the construction.  We have completed the first phase.  During 2023 we hope to complete the second phase, putting up the walls, doors, and bathroom.  We thank everyone who helped us to achieve our goals!

The almost-complete roof on top of the concrete slab and columns.
The roof is corrugated, painted metal on a structure of welded metal supports.

These medications are from Peru.  While untrained people are not allowed to
prescribe and give medications, the health center will give the villagers a clean
and an organized place to administer their meds.

This poster was on the wall of one of the health clinics in the city of Leticia.
It shows some of the illnesses and accidents common in the river communities.

Once the center is up and running, we hope to help sponsor
vaccination clinics.  It is easier for the providers to come to the
community during a scheduled time.

This boy had a skin infection from coming into contact with 
the unsanitary ground conditions during a soccer game.
An antibiotic cream helped to clear it up quickly.

This picture shows a terrible skin infection.  The man lanced a small boil
on his back with an unsterile orange tree spine.  Within five days the infection
advanced to the above stage.  Just days more without treatment and he may have
died.  If he had had access to the center, he could have used a disinfected needle
and he may have avoided the infection.

Luckily, he went to the hospital in the city of Leticia.  There he underwent
treatment with aggressive antibiotics and two surgeries to remove the infection.
He recovered within two weeks, but it will take up to a year for the skin to
completely regrow.

Many times the health problems in the village may be treated when they are small before they become more serious.  Basic things like small wound treatment and disinfection are all that is needed.  The health care center gives them an area to do these simple things.

We loaded the gravel into empty feed bags.

Next, we loaded the sand.

And last, the bags of cement.  Each bag had to be wrapped in plastic
bags to protect against water in the trip upriver.

After being placed in plastic, each cement bag was then placed
in a feed bag to make it easier to carry and more resistant to bag rips.

Then we carried the bags at the port of Leticia to our boat which
was docked at the Balsa Piranita, a floating raft.

When everything was loaded we could head upriver.
Our 35-foot wooden boat can transport no more than 2 and 1/2 tons.

Rebar to reinforce the cement.

At last, we are preparing for the construction work.  These are rebar
supports to be used inside the concrete columns.

Preparing the footings for the concrete slab.

Now it is really starting to look like something!

All work must be done by hand.  We have no heavy machinery in the village.

Doing the last part of the floor.  The floor had to be finished all at once.

The forms for the columns are up.

Now the columns needed a week to dry and harden.

While we were waiting for the concrete to harden we had time to
get the roof ready.  Originally, we planned to use wooden support for
the roof.  But we ran into problems.  The beams we had cut warped badly.
We decided to construct everything with metal.  This was a much more expensive
option, but one that we believed would give us a much stronger roof and much
better longevity.

It took us three trips in our smaller boat to bring
up all the metal beams.

The beams had to be sanded, cleaned, and painted with rustproof paint.

After some worrisome delays, the welders arrived.  We housed them in the
guesthouse, where they stayed for three days.  We also provided them
with food during this time. 

Many of the villagers have never seen a person weld.  During the work
there was a party-like atmosphere!

In this video, the welders are installing the
roof understructure.  Look for the two kids in the tree!

These "tejas" are four meters in length.  They come painted.
We had to go upriver to Peru to find them.  They are 
much less prone to rust.

The center is in the middle of the village, on a hill next to the school.

In the next phase of this project, we will be building the walls, doors, and bathroom.  The cinderblock pictured below will be made in the village.  We have sand that we can clean, sift and use.  We also have the forms.  All that is missing is the cement, water, labor, and bringing everything together!

One of the village kids shows an example of a cinderblock
we will use for the buildings.

Through the health center, we will achieve the following five things:
  1. Provide a place for the students and their families to receive basic health care.
  2. Provide a place for medication to be stored.
  3. Provide training to specific members of the community to treat illness and injury.
  4. Provide a secure place for health and community records to be stored.
  5. Provide an office and dormitory for visiting health care providers.

You can join us!

We are raising the funds to start phase two of the construction in 2023.  Your donation will help us to do this.  Our donation portal is at

But there is also the option for you, as a volunteer, of joining us physically in the village of La Libertad to help with the construction!  Our guesthouse, kitchen, and bathroom are clean and mostly comfortable.  Please contact us at for more information.

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