WiRED Continues Ambitious Amazon Health Program



iRED's next stop along the Amazon headwaters is Santa Maria de Nieva, Peru, where we will continue the work begun in the region last November. Santa Maria de Nieva is a small village, literally at the end of a road that wends through the jungles of northern Peru. Transportation beyond this point is entirely by boat on the Amazon river. Because the road and the river join at Santa Maria de Nieva, the village has become the regional supply center and the health care hub for many thousands of people in surrounding villages.


WiRED's challenge is to provide resources to remote communities affected by problems of clean water and nutrition—problems that too often lead to diarrhea, dehydration, and other life-threatening health issues. WiRED Director Gary Selnow, Ph.D. says, "Our goal is to answer critical needs for health information and educate the communities on how to care for themselves."


BioSand Filters

BioSand filters use sand and gravel (found locally) in a slow filtration process that treats polluted water. Research demonstrates that BioSand filters remove 95 to 99 percent of organic contaminants, including bacteria, viruses, protozoa, worms and particles. The resulting water is clear and odor-free. It can be used for drinking, food preparation, sanitation and personal hygiene.


In this project, we will accomplish four tasks related to BioSand filters:

  1. Provide a demonstration BioSand filter;
  2. Offer seminars on BioSand filter operation;
  3. Supply modules that describe how BioSand filters work and how to build them; and
  4. Include detailed blueprints for production facilities.

In addition to the health benefits of clean water, this program could become a community business opportunity to produce and sell BioSand filters in other locations.

Oral Rehydration Therapy (ORT)

Dehydration, a frequent outcome of severe diarrhea (caused by e.g., typhoid), can be deadly, especially to children. ORT, a simple solution of salt, sugar and water can be prepared at home for the successful treatment of dehydration. We will provide educational tools that show people how ORT works and how to prepare and administer it.

To that end WiRED will offer our complete Community Health Information (CHI) Library—a collection of more than 125 health training modules that focus on maternal and child health and nutrition, water-borne illnesses and treatments, but also includes a wide assortment of educational programs on other health issues (click here for a demonstration). The material is designed to give villagers, with no health training, sufficient information to understand basic causes, diagnoses and treatments of illnesses common in the region.


All villagers will have free, daily access to the CHI material. People can identify their own topics; clinic doctors can encourage patients to learn about their illness and become familiar with methods of prevention and healthy living. Where medical care is so limited, prevention becomes ever more central to good community health.


At the moment, Santa Maria de Nieva produces only four hours of evening power from a local generator. In order for the people to access the CHI library, WiRED will provide the computers and the solar equipment to power them. As it has in many other locations in Africa and Central America, WiRED staff will train teachers, students and health workers who, in turn, will teach others how to access and operate the interactive programs. The training programs will offer face-to-face seminars, demonstrations and taped discussions.


Our program will:

"We, at the Aedifos Group, share this belief in the power of knowledge, and we are proud to underwrite this humanitarian effort as it exemplifies our values and our strong commitment to helping disadvantaged communities around the world."

The Aedifos Group

  • Provide training on BioSand filters (see sidebar above);
  • Provide training on Oral Rehydration Therapy (see sidebar above); and
  • Explore ways of stocking the CHI interactive library on portable devices to allow visiting villagers to take the health education programs with them.

George K. Guszcza, founder and chief executive officer of the Aedifos Group, currently serves on the WiRED Board. Mr. Guszcza said, "Ever since I observed WiRED's dedicated and courageous work in Iraq in 2003, I have been proud to be part of the WiRED team. Our work in Peru underlines WiRED's credo that community health starts with knowledge. We, at the Aedifos Group, share this belief in the power of knowledge, and we are proud to underwrite this humanitarian effort as it exemplifies our values and our strong commitment to helping disadvantaged communities around the world."


Santa Maria de Nieva
(Click the image to enlarge)

The Ann Arbor Rotary Club works through more than 30 committees, which carry out numerous projects, raise funds, provide publicity, oversee Club resources, mentor students and plan social events. The Ann Arbor Rotary has more than 310 members and is the largest Rotary in Michigan. The Club, which has a focused interest in community health and development, became familiar with WiRED's work in the Amazon though Dr. Robert Northrup, a WiRED board member. The Club studied WiRED's program content and ability to carry out projects in remote locations. The Ann Arbor Rotary Club has generously provided funds to underwrite the purchase of the solar equipment for Santa Maria de Nieva.



WiRED International welcomes a generous donation from the Aedifos Group. This donation, in conjunction with the many other charitable donations received by WiRED, will further aid in ensuring equal access to information that saves lives within communities coping with the challenges of war, poverty and dislocation.


The Aedifos Group—a for-profit, social enterprise company dedicated to providing mega-project and major program management services in regions where the social motive should outweigh the profit motive—has been an enthusiastic friend and supporter of WiRED. George K. Guszcza, founder and chief executive officer of The Aedifos Group, currently serves on the WiRED Board, and fervently believes that corporations, both large and small, have a social obligation to support organizations serving the communities in which we live and work.


At its core, The Aedifos Group is a fully functioning, international Program Management firm with clients and professional relationships in remote corners of the developed and developing world. Founded in 2011, Aedifos is a for-profit social enterprise dedicated to redefining business by leveraging the power of program and project management on behalf of communities around the world, as well as the businesses and systems that serve them, through training, capacity and expertise, regardless of affluence.

Click to read about the Aedifos Group.


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