Last week in Puerto Alegria, while I was sitting in the maloca (gazebo) down by the river, Jacobo wandered down to join me. He was carrying a book with him that a volunteer had left a few weeks earlier, Curious George. Seeing me sitting there in a hammock, he asked me if I wanted to read the book with him. Before I had a chance to say yes, he climbed into the hammock with me and opened the book to read about the mischievous little monkey and his friend with the yellow hat.
Jacobo came to our home in Puerto Alegria in February of this year through the medical ministry SU operates here in Iquitos. His path to Puerto Alegria is by no means the typical way our boys arrive to the house, but the situation he came from is representative of many.
At the end of January, a team of medical volunteers from the United Kingdom, the Peruvian medical staff and SU staff (including Billy) were working on the medical boat, Amazon Hope 1, providing medical and dental care to villages along the rivers in the Amazon jungle.
Near the end of their 10-day tour, they arrived in the village of Cochiquinas, close to the border of Peru and Brazil. A few minutes after they had docked the boat for the evening, a man approached and asked if the doctors could take an emergency appointment.
The man boarded the large medical boat with a frail boy in his arms. He explained that the boy had been out in the fields with his grandparents while they worked harvesting crops. While they were working, he had wandered away from the little hut he stayed at to go pick a ripe papaya he could see in a nearby tree. While standing at the tree, plotting how he would reach the papaya, a snake bit him between his toes on his left foot. Over the next 24 hours, with the help from his aunts and uncles, and various neighbors, Jacobo made the long journey back from the fields to his home in Cochiquinas, and into the care of a neighbor- the same man who brought Jacobo to the boat.
Immediately, the doctors on board began to treat him. The boat carries a large supply of medicines, including anti-venom medications. They were able to give him the medication, but could not guarantee that it would work since they need to be administered within 24 hours of being bit. By this time, 36 hours had already passed.
Over the next few hours, the medical team did the only thing they could do – keep Jacobo as comfortable as possible and pray for God to take care of him. Throughout the rest of the night, they did just that.
In the morning, things were looking much better for Jacobo as he received his second round of antibiotics. He had managed to sleep throughout the night, but was nowhere in the clear. He still needed more medical treatment. Upon finding out that his grandparents were unable to leave their work in the fields to come take care of their grandson, and with no legal guardian to take care of him, Jacobo remained on the Amazon Hope 1 medical boat. When the boat returned to Iquitos, Jacobo was brought to Puerto Alegria – our home for abandoned boys outside of the city.
After Curious George had saved the day yet again, I gave Jacobo a hug and we swung in the hammock discussing the book. He had never heard of Curious George and thought it was funny that a monkey lived in a house and rode a bicycle.
Jacobo, who didn’t know his birthday, age or last name, now has the opportunity to attend school, play with the other 46 boys at the home and learn about God and His awesome powers while at Puerto Alegria. He is a walking miracle and quite a testament to what God is able to do.