SANTA VICTORIA ESTE, Salta (Special Envoy) .- Gael Lucas Sambo has one year and four months. Sitting on the skirt of his mother, Josefa (27), does not smile, he has his eyes fixed on a lost point. Around, stands a precarious adobe and wood ranch, with rags as walls; and, in the open, there is a single bed with a piece of foam rubber. On the ground, another improvised mattress. A dramatic postcard of extreme poverty in which communities live
wichis from the north of
The family of
Gael lives in La Nueva Esperanza, one of the communities that make up La Puntana. It is located on the border with Bolivia, 45 kilometers -20 of them by dirt road- of
the town of Santa Victoria Este and within the department of Rivadavia, one of the three where the Salta government declared, a few days ago, the socio-sanitary emergency. Since the beginning of the year, there are already eight girls and boys from Salta who died due to dehydration, malnutrition and other problems associated with the conditions of very high vulnerability in which they live.
How do you live in the Wichis communities of northern Salta
THE NATION He toured the municipality of Santa Victoria Este, where two thirds of the population belong to native towns.
Among the communities visited, there is not one that has not had children with malnutrition or malnutrition.
At least a month ago,
Lucas Sambo, like other families in the area,
they have no water because the school pump that supplies them runs out of pressure during the day. Just a few drops come out at night, which they gather in pots.
Without an ID, Gael – who has two little sisters aged 7 and 4, and a two-week-old baby – does not receive the AUH benefit. What it does have is hunger and severe malnutrition: in November, when it was detected that its situation was alarming, it weighed 6 kilos with 400 grams and measured 68.5 centimeters.
The case of Gael's family is just one example of the reality that crosses all the Wichis communities in Argentina.
There are approximately 50,000 people in the provinces of Salta, Formosa and Chaco. The most severe situation, according to specialists and local referents, is that of those who live more isolated inland, in the region of the Chaco Salteño.
The balance of the chiefs, organizations and professionals working in the territory is always the same:
beyond emergency care, they demand structural solutions and that articulated work be done that includes communities in the decision tables to respond to a long-running problem. They argue that it was sharpened in a
context of extension of the agricultural frontier and extractive industries, and the consequent loss of the forest, the natural habitat of these communities.
Last Monday, the Salta government announced the launch of an operation that will cover the emergency areas, in addition to Rivadavia, Oran and San Martín. From the provincial Ministry of Social Development, they explained that “the objective is to start distributing the 40,000 food modules that will be delivered for four months in those places where there is no connectivity to implement the Food Card and that will be purchased with funds from the national government.”
the communities of the Santa Victoria Este area – where in December the first wichi mayor of its history, Rogelio Nerón – assumed it is not easy. There are more than seven hours of travel by route from the capital of the province to the Creole people, where the dirt roads open to the Wichis communities.
When it rains, as earlier this week, they become almost impassable neighborhoods, even in 4×4.
In January, Gael had gained 800 grams thanks to the outpatient treatment he receives from the interdisciplinary team of the civil association
Pata Pila, which works in the prevention, detection and treatment of child malnutrition.
You are taking antiparasitic, vitamins and iron. But its reality remains critical: two weeks ago, when Fanny Pérez, a family companion of the NGO, visited the Lucas,
The boys cried for food. They didn't have a package of rice.
The Lucas Sambo clan is made up of more than 20 people, mostly children. Everyone shares the same pot. Josefa, who has Chagas, lost his document and in addition to Gael, the newborn baby – who still has no name – was also not registered, because he gave birth to them at the ranch where they live. She keeps quiet while Fanny talks. He limits a phrase in a low and leisurely voice – a way of speaking that is repeated in the Wichis communities – while holding Gael in his arms.
“We are trying to locate the person who on October 30 of last year took the data in an operation to give them their IDs, because the procedure was nowhere,” Fanny explains.
Macarena Aucapiña, director of Pata Pila for the area of Santa Victoria Este, adds: “Gael was very serious. The father distrusts the hospital's attention and they are far away. The boy was able to take him with the condition of bringing him back.
The analyzes that were made show that Gael has no underlying diseases. It's hungry. “
Since they started working in 2015, from Pata Pila they diagnosed more than 1000 children with malnutrition and malnutrition. Of them, 800 received treatments and 200 were discharged. Currently, they accompany 600 and seek to reach 3000 more than they are in a critical situation. For that, he needs more sponsors and godmothers.
According to a recent study conducted by a group of professionals from the University of Salta -product of the Abraam Sonis Research Health grant, granted by the Ministry of Health of the Nation-,
the mortality rates in children under five years of age in the area of Santa Victoria Este (31.94 per 1000 live births) triple those of the Nation and those of the province. On the other hand, that of infant mortality (deaths in children under one year) double them. From March 12, 2018 until March 12, 2019, they recorded the death of 13 boys and girls under the age of five, all belonging to communities of native peoples.
Elisabeth Ferrer is a doctor and since 1985 she works with communities of Salta and in December she retired as a professor at the university. “There is an exclusion of native peoples in general, but where it impacts the most is on the nutritional status and quality of life of those who inhabit the Chaco region,” he says.
The doctor explains that the essential problem is “that these people have been expelled from their territories and lost community ownership of the land.” When they lost the mountain they were left without their main source of food and among those foods, water.
“This is causing a deterioration of health at all ages, but children, being the most vulnerable, are what die in greater proportion. With an immune state depressed by malnutrition, any microorganism causes them a disease that in them it ends up being serious, “he deepens.
According to the aforementioned research, of which Ferrer was coordinator, of the 150 children with nutritional deficits that were registered in the area, more than 68% did not have the proteins they need daily to grow and develop.
“80% did not cover calcium and 92% iron, which are essential for the organs to function. Nor do they cover the necessary vitamins,” he concludes.
In the health center of La Puntana -which groups more than 5000 people from different communities-, three months ago they have no water. Nor doctor. They only receive the visit of nurses and the attention of organizations like Pata Pila. They do not supply.
There are cases like Gisela, who is 17 years old, has two children and is pregnant with the third. The eldest, Ezekiel, is almost 4 years old. The youngest, Jonathan, is being treated for low weight.
Or faces like Sara Suarez's (47). There are nine children and the grandchildren – one was in malnutrition treatment – lost their count. He hasn't been able to take the medicine he needs for his bones for two months because he doesn't get to the hospital. Extend your hand and show the empty blister:
“It hurts a lot. There are days I can't get up,” he says. It remains silent. Sighs.
The base hospital in the area is San Victoria Este, where a girl died last week in the presence of the province's Minister of Health, Josefina Medrano.
According to sources from that hospital, so far this has only five general practitioners permanently and currently has two ambulances for an operational area of 14,000 inhabitants, who are only prepared to travel paved routes. “There is a 4×4 truck that is in service, but it does not meet the requirements of an ambulance. On the other hand, pediatricians and obstetricians will come as emergency rotations,” says doctor Enrique Heredia, who was the Minister of Health of the province and is temporarily in charge of the hospital.
In December, after one of the ambulances crashed in front of a motorcycle in which a couple of young wichis were traveling, they died in the village. It was the drop that overflowed the glass. The communities demanded that all the authorities of the hospital be changed, which is now encephalous.
Punctured hoses that run along the dirt floor, pots filled with a brown liquid, the same tap for more than 20 families, these are some of the ways in which communities are supplied, as they can, with water.
Rafael Pérez, chief of La Nueva Esperanza, tries to explain the inexplicable: “Sometimes a little goes out at night. A family has a bomb and we carry with drums.
When it comes out, the water has pebbles and many bugs. In this community alone there are 23 families in this situation. We are suffering a lot“, account.
In communities closer to Santa Victoria Este, such as El Cruce, where 12 families live, the situation is also critical. Víctor García, the cacique, says that the health worker who should visit them does not go. The same happens in El Cañaveral 1, where there are 32 families. His cacique, Francisco Pérez, made several complaints, but still had no answer. Pérez's despair does not go into words: “In addition, the problem of water is great. Last year they came from the university and did the study and there are many parasites.”
In the Buen Destino, 3 kilometers from Santa Victoria Este, Germán Juárez's family lives. There are 12 people under the same roof. Overcrowding is another serious problem. Two of his children, Mariano – who was underweight, as well as Rebeca, one of his granddaughters – and Bernardo, are disabled. Germán, who never went to school, can't say how old he is. Ask someone to hear your claim of decent housing and diapers for Mariano.
“A bag comes out 500 pesos, they are very expensive, we can't buy them,” he says.
On the ranches where the 12 families of the community live, Germán adds: “The roofs are made of nylon and sheet; when it rains it gets wet or they fly with the wind.”
Eliseo Juarez is the chief of the community: “Sometimes we call the hospital because we have a little boy with a fever and they tell us: 'It's close, come on.' But if it rains the roads become very difficult. There are no remedies. There are no doctors.” , concludes with sagging shoulders. And shut up. Tired. Almost resigned.
How to collaborate
The aim of the Pata Pila civil association is to expand its sponsors and godmothers program, to be able to accompany more and more families.
All contribution adds up. To help, you can enter their website and make a monthly contribution. 100% of the contributions are destined to cover the nutritional treatments of children up to 5 years old that the Pata Pila team attends and monitors weekly in its Centers for the Prevention of Child Malnutrition and Human Promotion and its Itinerant Care Programs, reaching those most vulnerable and difficult to access communities in the north of the province of Salta.
. (tagsToTranslate) Cry of hunger: the raw reality wichi (t) urgent and profound – LA NACION
Publicado en el diario La Nación