Amazon Rainforest

Amazon Rainforest

The Amazon Rainforest is a jungle and river region in eastern Peru. The Amazon Rainforest covers 63% of Peru, however, only about 10% of the population lives in this region. The Amazon Rainforest region of Peru begins in the Andean cloud forests and descends into the forested Amazonian plains.

Peru Amazon Region

The Location

 

The Population

29,549,517

The Religion

Roman Catholic

The Weather

 
 
  • Children in Compassion’s Amazon Rainforest program gather near their church in the jungle. Thanks to Compassion’s generous donors, we can offer hope where little existed before. Peru Children Outside of Their Center
  • This family moved from the Andes to the jungle to improve their living conditions. This house represents a step up for them. Peru Family Outside of their Home
  • For many children, the meals served at Compassion-assisted child development centers are the only real nourishment they receive each day. Peru Home with Thatched Roof
  • This girl is spending time in prayer. Spiritual growth plays a key role in Compassion's holistic child development program. Peru Mother and Baby Cooking Near Fire
  • As civilization and commercial exploitation creep farther and farther into the rainforest, the Peruvian people are forced to adapt to an unfamiliar way of life. Peru Homes and the Mountains
  • Mosquito nets, donated by Compassion sponsors, have been extremely effective in reducing outbreaks of dengue fever and other insect-borne diseases. Peru Woman and Daughter with Mosquito Net
 

Overview: Amazon Region

The Amazon rainforest is a jungle and river region in eastern Peru. It covers 63 percent of Peru yet contains only about a tenth of the country’s population. The region begins high in the eastern Andean cloud forests and descends with rushing rivers to the low, forested Amazonian plains. The torrential rivers unite to form the Amazon River.

Here, the Ashaninka, Shipibo, Aguaruna, Machiguenga, Huambisa and 50 other nomadic tribes have lived in relative isolation for centuries. The tribal people of the Peruvian rainforest are desperately poor. Three-quarters of the indigenous people live in poverty. Living season to season — moving to the rhythm of river floods, ripening fruit, fish spawning, timber harvesting, and mineral mining jobs — they carry with them unique cultural traditions, languages and religious beliefs.

Iquitos, a noisy and colorful city with a population of more than 430,000, is the biggest Peruvian city in the Amazon. Belen, a river neighborhood of Iquitos, is a “floating” city. It can be reached by foot in the dry season (June to October) but is only accessible by boat in the wet season (November to May). Homes in this area are built on stilts or tethered to large poles and float upon the rising waters every year.

Few cultural traditions are more important to the people of the Peruvian rainforest than the San Juan festival in June. In the jungle, St. John the Baptist has taken on a major symbolic significance because of the importance of water as a vital element in the Amazon region. During this festival, colorful processions along the Amazon River give way to music, dance and abundant feasts.

People in the cities and the jungles also commonly drink from the river, bathe in the river, eat from the river, and put their waste back in the river. As a result, children are routinely afflicted with parasites, dysentery, tooth decay (soda is cheaper than clean water), and dengue fever.

 

Culture Corner

TACACHO

Try making this typical jungle dish of fried plantains. It goes nicely with eggs for breakfast.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 plantains (not yet ripe, still green and firm)
  • 8 strips of bacon or an equal amount of cooked pork, chopped
  • 1 small mild onion, chopped
  • Handful of cilantro, shredded
  • Salt and pepper to taste

PROCEDURE

Peel the plantains with a peeler or a paring knife. Boil until soft.

Remove from water and mash up a bit, but do not puree. Fry bacon.

Using some of the remaining bacon grease (or 2 tbsp. oil if you will use cooked pork), fry chopped onion.

Toss in mashed up plantain, bacon bits and cilantro and mix. Simmer for several minutes. (This is the time to fry some eggs.) Add salt and pepper to taste.

 

Life in the Amazon Region

The Amazon Rainforest of Peru features two very different geographical settings: the cloud forests of the eastern Andes Mountains and the low forests of the Amazonian plains. Connecting them are several large rivers, which eventually join together to form the Amazon.

Life in the Amazon Rainforest is tied closely to the rivers. Nomadic tribes who live in the region make their living hunting, fishing, and creating seed handcrafts to sell to tourists who travel by boat.

Three quarters of the people here live in poverty. More than half live in extreme poverty. Most children drop out of school to help support their families, usually as unskilled, temporary laborers.

Though the region makes up 63 percent of the country’s land mass, it accounts for only 10 percent of the population.

Children at Home

Children in the Peruvian jungle grow up in wooden homes with thatched roofs. Boats and canoes are the only modes of transport through the jungle waterways where they live. In urban centers, children are more likely to live in an adobe or concrete home with five or six other family members. The homes of both the urban and rural poor typically lack electricity or running water.

 

Community Issues and Concerns Community in Peru

The people in the Peruvian rainforest live with a corruption that permeates daily life. Boats, the only means of transport among the winding tributaries of the Amazonian jungles, are often so overloaded with over-charged passengers, contraband and hidden drugs, they sometimes sink in fast-flowing rivers. Cocaine processing plants are overlooked. International oil-exploration and timber-production companies are growing unchecked, dislocating those who have lived on the land for generations.

Children are especially vulnerable to exploitation. Many children work long hours in industrial operations and mineral mines for negligible wages.

Local Needs and Challenges

The lack of medical care is a pressing concern in the Amazon Rainforest. Unsanitary living conditions and malnourishment wreak havoc on the health of rainforest residents. Dengue fever and other insect-borne diseases are constant threats. People who are seriously ill or injured often must travel hours to get medical treatment. The lack of education and employment opportunities in the region must also be addressed if the vicious cycle of poverty is to be ended.

 

Schools and Education Education in Peru

In the Amazon jungle, 75 percent of the children finish grade school, but only 30 percent finish high school. Most drop out because they are needed to help support the family by working. In recent years, however, education has become more available to isolated rainforest children.

At the Compassion Child Development Center

Child development centers in Peru’s urban and rural rainforest communities provide registered children with a place to learn, grow and study. Children whose families have never been able to offer them clean water, health care, or an education are provided access to these vital resources. Compassion-assisted children attend health classes, tutoring sessions, and Bible studies at the center. They also spend time writing and praying for their sponsors.

 

Working Through the Local Church

Compassion enjoys a mutually beneficial relationship with local churches in the Amazon Rainforest. Non-Christian parents who otherwise might resist sending their kids to church recognize the value of what Compassion offers, including medical checkups, help with schoolwork, and tips for good hygiene. They have come to see the church as a valuable part of their community.

In turn, the local churches provide Compassion with a delivery system for meeting people’s needs. Because churches are at the center of many Amazon communities, they are the ideal places to learn who is going through a difficult time, who has recently lost a job, and who is in desperate need of assistance.

How Compassion Works in Peru Compassion in Peru

Compassion’s work in Peru began in 1980. Since then, we have established a significant presence throughout the country and have affected the lives of hundreds of thousands of Peruvians. Currently we serve more than 57,700 children in more than 253 child development centers. Compassion partners with local churches and denominations to help Peru’s children most in need rise above their dire circumstances and discover their God-given potential.

The Role of a Partnership Facilitator

The Amazon Rainforest presents unique challenges and opportunities for a Partnership Facilitator because the region is so different from the rest of Peru. The culture, the rhythm of life, the educational level, and the social habits of the people in the Amazon differ radically from those of other Peruvians.

Compassion’s programs are designed more for Peru’s urban and coastal areas. The challenge for Partnership Facilitators is to adapt those programs to fit the needs of people in the Amazon.

Specifically the facilitator:

  • serves as a liaison between the country director and the local church;
  • coordinates programs with the local churches’ schedules; and
  • oversees the training of the pastors and leaders of the child development center.
 
 

Prayer Requests

  • Please pray that Amazon rainforest churches will continue to grow and reach families in their communities.
  • Pray for the integrity of Amazon rainforest authorities, that they would denounce corruption.
  • Pray for the children attending Amazon rainforest Compassion centers, that they may find a vision for their lives, launch meaningful careers, and serve as role models for younger generations to break the cycle of poverty.