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Healthcare of Indigenous People of Paraguay

December 14, 2020, 12:00 PM1:00 PM

Free

George Ritz, a forester from Bradford, Maine is a University of Maine graduate. He has been recognized by the School of Forest Resources as Distinguished Alumni and by the Society of American Foresters as Outstanding Field Forester in the Northeast region. He and his wife, Sylvia, are recipients of the Bernard Lown Humanitarian Award which is awarded by the University of Maine Alumni Association. The last half of his career George was a district forest land manager for the Maine Bureau of Public Lands and he is now retired.

George served in the Peace Corps 1968-1971, working with the Agricultural Extension service and Forestry Institute of Chile. From 1982-87, he served as Director of natural resource programs, and Acting Director of Peace Corps Paraguay.

In 1995, George and Sylvia’s 12 year old daughter Andrea died suddenly. Remembering the many parents and children in Paraguay who suffer with inadequate or no heath care, George and Sylvia felt the most appropriate memorial to Andrea would be to promote health and health care services in unserved rural areas of Paraguay. Their experience working in Paraguay pointed toward the need to address three important areas; the provision of medical clinics, safe drinking water, and education to ensure long term health and sanitation. They established a non-profit organization, Andrea Ritz Clinics in Paraguay, to work toward these goals.

For the last 22 years George has made annual trips to Paraguay ranging from one to 4 months in length. Over these years and in conjunction with local communities, three full time clinics, three part-time clinic/dispensaries, running water systems for 11 villages, ten elementary schools, one agricultural vocational high school, and one combination village food kitchen /clinic have been constructed and are in operation.

Each year a doctor from Maine has accompanied George for part of the trip to provide care to patients and training for local staff. Clinics have become largely self-sufficient with staff and basic medications now provided by the Ministry of Health.

We located one of our first clinics near an indigenous Mby’a tribal settlement and was able to serve their medical needs. As we gained this group’s trust, other Mby’a communities in the province also approached us to work with them. After first meeting with the villagers to learn of their needs and priorities, we got to work. Our focus has been on clean water, education, first aid/health training, agriculture, and income generation allowing the Mby’a to begin to enter the cash economy while retaining their traditional culture.

Our intent has always been to work ourselves out of a job as local communities and authorities take over the task. Since the original clinics are now largely independent, our current focus is primarily with Mby’a and Ache communities as these resettlement areas are largely abandoned by local governments.

To attend this program, register here. Near the program date you will get an email with the Zoom link to admit you to the program.

Sponsored by the Mid-Maine Global Forum in partnership with the Waterville Rotary.

Details

Date:
December 14, 2020
Time:
12:00 PM – 1:00 PM
Cost:
Free

Venue

Online Event
ME

Organizer

Mid-Maine Global Forum
Email:
midmaineglobalforum@gmail.com
View Organizer Website
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