On December 12th our TOMA team left Santa Marta in an old Toyota Landcruiser for Cincuenta, a small settlement perched high on a ridge in the Sierra Nevada mountains. It was the end of the road after a 6 hour ride.
There we packed 4 mules with equipment, gear and supplies for our first Arhuaca village, Singuney, a 4 hour hike down the mountain through streams and deep mud. We were told that the tribal health department had invested in two new healthcare facilities in the region but needed energy for lights, vaccine refrigeration and a dental compressor. In Singuney, we were encouraged to see a new cement block health post and beside it, a new school. Providing solar energy and medical equipment for this village would be one of our priorities in 2015.
The next morning we continued on to Umake, another Arhuaca village, a 5 hour trek through the mountains. The rain and mud kept the trail very challenging for both mules and hikers. Another new healthcare post was recently completed there and the need for energy and medical/dental equipment was obvious.
The next day we continued on to Windiwa to evaluate their existing solar system which was too small to handle the needs of the tribal health post. After five days on the mountain trails we arrived in Nabusimake, the principal Arhuaca settlement that provides medical and dental support for over 5000 people.
Our plan is to return in late 2015 to install two solar systems for Singuney and Windiwa. We will provide electricity for the tribal health posts and schools.
In March our plan is to return to Colombia for meetings with tribal healthcare leaders and with Felipe, a 17 year old Arhuca boy that lost his arm, above the elbow to a snakebite. TOMA will help Felipe obtain a prosthesis through a US based foundation, A Leg to Stand On and their program partner, Fundacion Casa de Colombia.
In April we will ship a 20 foot container of donated medical equipment for three new tribal health posts among several Arhuaca villages.