As COVID-19 continues to spread throughout Brazil. The hardest hit communities have been the indigenous peoples of the Amazon basin. Northern Brazil has been long neglected by the state and has the lowest access to quality healthcare. With the generous gifts of donors and benefactors, Franciscan Missions awarded a grant to the Custody of St. Benedict of the Amazon located in the northern area of Brazil. The Custody has worked for many years on behalf of indigenous peoples, riverside inhabitants, and the peripheral populations of this region.
The friars in many parishes across the Amazon basin serve over 700 indigenous families who live in small remote communities. Villagers are unable to leave their homes in fear of contracting the COVID virus. The friars visit the communities with food, personal hygiene supplies, and medicine. Every two weeks the friars accompany nurses, doctors, and medical technicians to render aid and give medical consultations to the most vulnerable.
We are only beginning to grasp the overwhelming impact of COVID-19 on the Amazon Basin. Vaccinations are now taking place among Indigenous communities at a reasonable pace. The loss of leadership and knowledge, significant waves of return migration to rural communities, and shifts in their economic activities will have long-lasting consequences for Indigenous peoples.¹
1 Items.ssrc.org (Social Science Research Council)