By Mike Collis
Well there I was having a quiet beer in my favourite bar in the back streets of Iquitos. It was 12.15 p.m. on Good Friday and there I was minding my own business taking in a Crystal, the way I like it, cold and on my own. My solitude was soon to be ended when 2 young Peruvian women approached me, one holding what appeared to be a small body completely covered with a sheet, and she was holding it at arms length. I thought, “Oh no! She’s bringing me a dead baby!”. But no, the other young woman, who I knew as Liliana said “This little boy of 18 months has been seriously scalded by hot water and needs immediate hospital treatment”. I said “Well, get him to the hospital now”. The young woman holding the child said “ But I have no insurance and no money to pay so they will not treat my little boy”. I knew that the burns would not kill the little boy but infection would soon set in if the burns were not treated quickly and the infection would for certain kill the child.
Grabbing the young mother by the hand, abandoning my beer and leaving the bar without paying I led the two women through the streets to the nearest point I could think of where help just might be available, The Dawn on the Amazon Restaurant.
When we got there, I left the two young women outside in the street and entered the restaurant. My friend, Bill Grimes the owner was not there. What can I do? There was about 15 diners enjoying, probably what is considered to be the best food in Iquitos. I approached them, raised my arms and said “Sorry folks but this is an emergency, I have an 18 month old boy outside who has been scalded. I estimate 30% to 40% of his body is affected and he needs hospital treatment NOW and his Mother has no insurance and no money so the hospital will not even look at him” A diner got up and said “ I am a nurse let me see the boy”. She went over and gently lifted the sheet from the child and turned back to the other diners and said “ Yes, it’s serious”.
Within a minute, the 2 women and the child were in a motocarro and on their way to the Regional Hospital with enough money to cover the entire cost of any treatment, thanks to the generosity of those kind customers of the Dawn on the Amazon Restaurant. I think the total amount raised was about 200 peruvian soles ($60US). Enough to save this young life. Yes, it don’t cost much to save a life here in the Amazon.
I will keep you informed on the little boys progress.
By Mike Collis