December 30, 2010

10 Years Ago: The Dog That Changed My Life

This is a letter I just received from Adrian Popescu, a resident of Atlanta, Georgia USA.  Adrian traveled with me on a Peru volunteer trip that I organized in July, 2001.  I had been traveling for years doing various volunteer activities.  However THIS trip was different.  In his words:
"Attached is the sequence of three photos that I took of a taxi and you on our last Sunday in the Amazon (July 2001); wandering around Iquitos. I was in a taxi heading out of town, at a red light, looking for a gift for the girls. As you pulled up, in your arms I recognized the dog that I had followed earlier that afternoon, walking around the market and the Inca Museo. Everywhere I walked, he walked in front of me; or maybe, he was my guide. 

December 23, 2010

Explorama offers Volunteers Adventure, Luxury

Amazon CARES is thrilled to announce the April 2011 Volunteer Trip to the Amazon in conjunction with Explorama Lodges.  The trip is already almost full! Two non-veterinary volunteers that are experienced animal handlers have been accepted, as well as two highly qualified veterinarians, including Dr. Patrick Mahaney! We are still seeking 1 more Veterinarian and 2 Vet Nurses / Techs.  If interested please email  This is an excerpt from the itinerary.

Day Seven:  Saturday April 16, 2011
Take an afternoon hike through primary, terra firme, non-flooding rainforest including a visit to the ReNuPeRu Medicinal Plant Garden adjoining the lodge. There will also be an evening excursion by open boat along the Sucusari Stream in search of caiman and to enjoy the night sounds and stars of the Southern sky.  We will overnight at ExplorNapo Lodge.

December 21, 2010

Explore the Heliconia Amazon River Lodge!

Veterinary volunteers and Amazon CARES are highly appreciative of the hard work that goes into the planning of our volunteer trips.  The bureaucratic red tape is deftly handled by the Director in Peru, Bruno Antoine.  Communicating and confirming plans with remote villages is always an extreme difficulty.  Following that, Bruno dedicates himself to finding comfortable lodging and safe, healthy meals for the participants. 

During our most recent campaign, Heliconia Lodge and Amazon River Expeditions provided not one, but two large speedboats to assist our getting the volunteers and the large amount of supplies from the Port of Bellavista Nanay in Iquitos to the towns of Yanamono, then to Indiana, and after several days, they returned us to Iquitos.  These areas are indicated on the map above with red/yellow "X" marks.

December 6, 2010

Jaguar Otto and Puma Kimba need a home!

Recently, it came to our attention that the pastor at a local church, Father Raymundo Portelli of the San Martín de Porres parrish in Iquitos, keeps several wild animals at the church. The animals were given to him in order to find them a decent home, but Father Raymundo has been unable to do so. There isn’t enough money to take care of the animals, and local organizations are unable to take them off his hands.

One of the animals is an adult male jaguar, named Otto.

The animal was given to Father Raymundo when it was just a baby. It had been abandoned, along with a baby brother, put in a bag and tossed away. The other jaguar-kitten was already dead at the time, and Father Raymundo took in the surviving kitten.

But that was 5 years ago, and the now fully grown cat has lived on a chain, in a 100-square foot cage, ever since. The reason the animal is kept on a chain inside his cage, is that Father Raymundo worries that the
cage is not strong enough to hold Otto inside. If the animal should escape, the consequences could be severe.

December 2, 2010

Sterile conditions despite drawbacks

Today as well as on our first day in Iquitos, Barbara and I walked the local streets and poor areas with either Molly or Gustavo (the kennel manager) as translator. We offered free parasite control for the common infestations seen here in dogs: sarcoptic mange, fleas, ticks and roundworms. The mange responds to ivermectin injections, the fleas and tick to fiprinil spray. These dogs need a repeat treatment of ivermectin in a month, but most don't know this and they don't seem to be proactive in getting the treatment. The cats are less visible than the thousands of owned and street dogs, but they do exist and occupy a place in the household.

Judith in surgery
The low cost spay and neuter clinics are offered in various venues around Iquitos and in nearbly villages and up the Amazon river. We have spent three days in the Punchana district. We are met at the Amazon Cares clinic by Bruno, the pr man, Molly, vets Luis and Esther, techs Behtjane and Harry, and the local Punchana officers in their official truck, which is loaded with plastic kitchen tables, sand bags, vet supplies, about a million sterile surgical packs, educational literature, clean drinking water, dog catching nets, and people inside and on the back of the truck. The site is a cement amphitheater in a small square....angled steps lead up to the stage on both sides. A portable awning/tent is set up for the treatments given by the resident vet, Esther or Luis. People are lined up with their pets: in baskets, bags, arms, motos, afoot. Few if any are on leashes. Chaos begins. While the line is organized, up top on the stage we are unpacking everything.

November 24, 2010

Iquitos by way of Minnesota

Dr. Judith Bechtum at Cabo Lopez
Iquitos is so overwhelming that it is hard to put into words. It is full of sights and sounds that are uncommon in my Minnesota life. Right now, the rescue dogs are barking because some have been moved to different pens for the night. The kennel is located on the grounds of the Cabo Lopez casa that belongs to Amazon Cares, the charity organization for which we are volunteering. The house has 3 bedrooms and six beds...all filled with Molly, the director, and the five volunteers, all women: Barbara my friend from Great Britain, Lisa a vet nurse from Wales, Catherine a Scot traveling in S America for 6 months volunteering for the Worldwide Veterinary Association, Gabriela a wonderful Spanish woman working in Great Britain, and me. Linda, a web volunteer from Wisconsin, stays here intermittently in this home that Molly opens to vets from all over the world. It is rather like a slumber party in the evenings, and we get along well; the cultural differences and accents are quite enjoyable.

November 15, 2010

Team Awesome…

by Lisa Mackinnon

On truck,
ready to go to mobile clinic site
Sitting at my desk, where I now work as a lawyer, watching the howling wind and rampant pouring rain through the high glassed building…….. I wonder was it a dream that less than 2 weeks age I was in the middle of the jungle in the immense heat with rare electricity and no hot water?? Then I look at my hands and realise the tan on them could not have been acquired in British November and I must have been present in the blazing Iquitos sun.

November 9, 2010

New Beginnings at Mobile Clinic

Last in a 3 Part Series:
For hours, the animals come in wave after wave, with whatever lull in owner drop-offs being neatly filled with Harris' contributions: freshly netted street dogs.

In the early afternoon, the motos stop dropping off owners with animals in tow, and the strays that normally crowd the street have thinned, some because they're already been captured, and many more because they've seen one of their brethren carted away. The air is sultry and close; the mood becomes almost dozy.

November 7, 2010

The Operating Theater: Part 2 of 3

Part 2 in a 3 Part Series: Now is when the fun really starts: motos start arriving with mom, dad, 2-3 kids and a dog or three crammed inside. These dogs are "owned," but not as one typically considers pet ownership: for example, these dogs have never worn a collar or leash. They have never been taken for a walk. They likely don't sleep indoors or have a water dish. Many do not even have names. They live on their own terms, eating what they like, from where they can get it; sleeping where they feel the urge (often in the middle of the street!); walking where they like, and coming "home" when the mood strikes. Canine laws unto themselves, they have never had to do anything other than shoo if someone is tired of their company. While these dogs are not wild, they are also not exactly tame.

November 5, 2010

Life and Hope at Mobile Vet Clinic

Part one in a three part series:  The day starts with a large breakfast provided by the radiant Marlena: eggs, fried potatoes, and lots of fresh fruit, all of which get jostled uncomfortably in the crazy bumpy moto ride to the clinic. At the clinic all is bedlam - rushing about to get all the necessary supplies,

with the usual comedy of errors, loading up the truck to get out the door. By the time we are finally ready to leave, the regional police truck (which transports the larger items, including boxes of supplies, broken down cages and tables) has been waiting
a good 20-30 minutes, with the driver scowling and looking grimly at his watch. However, finally everyone is accounted for and hops in the front seats or the back, holding onto sun hats and tensing their legs to cushion against the bumps of the potholed streets. A 10 minute ride later and we are at the site of the clinic.

Life with a Capital "L"

A final post in this series about the notorious Belen Market of Iquitos, Peru.  Our intrepid reporter Linda Schwefel sees the dirty truth and outwits a would-be mugger.

Here was life with a capitol L: produce ripens and is awash with fruit flies right next to a sleeping baby. A dog digs through the all-pervasive trash, while the clouds of buzzards circle high overhead, with dozens more watching from their perches in the stalls. A smartly dressed young woman barters for a glistening mess of chicken entrails, while holding the hand of her toddler son. He pees onto the stall's table legs while his mother waits for her purchase to be wrapped up;

Illegal Wildlife:The Shame of Belen

Did you know the illegal wildlife trade is second only to drug trafficking in terms of money and profit?  Iquitos, a city claiming to be the "Eco tourism Capitol of the World," is rife with this trade, and not enough government resources are devoted to fighting this shameful business.  Linda Schwefel spent time in Iquitos recently, and his written several articles about the infamous Belen Market. Some pictures may be disturbing.   In her words:

November 4, 2010

Shamans Cure Impotency and More!

A Solution for Whatever Ails You!
The shaman area of the Belen market is fascinating. For a city that is bursting at the seams with children, and where many families are struggling to get by, it is ironic how its denizens appear obsessed with fertility.

Everywhere there were tributes to male anatomy, including one candle that was a giant phallus with crouching male and female figures worshiping on either side - a decent summation of what appeared to be a devotional attitude towards all things macho. 

November 2, 2010

Aromas of the Belen Market

The first day I arrived in Iquitos, I was dazzled by the city, the speeding motos, the cosmetic-melting heat. I met up with two volunteer vets, Barbara and Judith, who graciously invited me to accompany them to the Belen open-air market. It was a a full-immersion introduction to Iquitos!

Belen Market is one of the largest open-air market in the world, covering 20+ square blocks. In the rainy season, many of the stalls are floating; in late October, the very tail end of the dry season, we were able to reach the vendors on foot.

October 31, 2010

Dog Catching at Punchana Meat Market

Backtracking a  bit, I am writing about our last day at the outdoor clinic in Punchana which took place on Thursday, October 21, 2010. As our agenda had changed, few people brought their animals for treatment. However, the proximity of the meat market ensured that the volunteers would not be idle: it was time to let loose CARES' own dog whisperer, Harris, with his wicked long pole net. Read more to see the MUST SEE 1 minute video of Harry trapping a street dog!

October 26, 2010

Veterinarians Loose in the Jungle!

Our group is sitting in a tiki-style hut / restaurant waiting for our boat to Yanamono, our first stop on our 5 day jungle adventure. We've been up since 5 AM preparing our own lunches for today and tomorrow. Then we arrived at the in-town Veterinary Clinic to load up the mountain of supplies we will need for ourselves and the animals we will treat this week. Despite our early arrival, it turns out our boat won't accommodate the gear AND us! So we are waiting for a second boat. The boat just arrived and they are loading in our cargo. 1.5 hours to Yanamono, where we hope to fit in a good day of work despite our late arrival. It is now 9:45 AM.

October 23, 2010

Amazon CARES' Animal Care Workers

Last week when I was in Peru, I was able to observe the Iquitos CARES' animal care workers in action, and have been much impressed with their skills and dedication. While Molly is the visionary, it is they who labor to bring her vision to fruition, and they deserve a little recognition. So without further ado, I bring you the CARES' Iquitos animal care staff:

Bruno is the Director of CARES, and is the general overseer of day-to-day operations. He arranges for trips, makes sure the vets are equipped with what they need, gets things fixed, does the accounting, and, on occasion, plays back-up dog catcher/wrangler.

October 22, 2010

Motos and Other Obstacles

This, my sixth day in Iquitos, saw me spending an inordinate amount of time riding in mototaxis. For the uninitiated, I will explain: imagine a souped-up tricycle with a seat in back and a driver in front whizzing by on busy city streets, weaving in and out of other "motos," motorcycles, buses, pedestrians, dogs and other obstacles.

October 21, 2010

Manatees in Danger

Today I visited ACOBIA-DWAzoo, Amazonian Manatee Rescue Center. Located 4.5 miles from the Iquitos airport, it took a good 25 minutes or so to get there. For S/10 (or about $3.60USD), you are granted admission to the bucolic preserve. A paved path leads you to a brackish pool covered with lush aquatic plants. It doesn't appear there are manatees in this pool, I thought, disappointed, when the water surface erupted with dozens of bubbles. We waited for the manatee to surface, but our patience is apparently not as great as the aquatic mammal's lung capacity.

October 20, 2010

Spay/Neuter Clinic in Punchana

Gabriela, Barbara, Lisa, Judith and Catherine
I have been down in Iquitos for four days now. Today was Day 3 of working in the Punchana District where the vets are doing free spays/neuters as well as administering anti-parasite medication. On Monday, I weighed dogs to ensure the correct dosage of the oral anti-parasite medication. The problem is, we don't have a proper scale. However, the vets had rigged up an ingenious "make-do" invention which utilized a small sling and a luggage scale. Getting the dogs into the sling was often challenging; they didn't appreciate being lifted up in the air, and the temperamental scale often made it necessary for us to weigh them more than once. It was hot, sweaty work, bending and stooping and wrestling with the dogs and lifting them up. A large crowd of people gathered to bring their animals and to watch with great interest the goings-0n. After maybe 5 hours of non-stop sweat, and getting peed on and having some brown goo leak from the back end of a matted-fur mutt, I made the unwelcome discovery of just how bad I could smell. I really had no idea.

October 17, 2010

Walking Dirt Paths for Animals

Our volunteers have arrived. This is an international team, including a former volunter Dr. Barbara Bennett.  She is accompanied by Judith (USA), Katherine (Scotland), Lisa (Wales), and Gabriella (Spain).  The trip has been organized in part by Dr. Bennett and also the Worldwide Veterinary Service.  We´ll begin a very arduous week of work in Iquitos starting Monday, October 18, 2010 and another week of veterinary clinics in jungle villages from October 22-29, 2010.  Yesterday, Saturday, October 16, a few of us decided to get out and start working ahead of schedule.  This is how we found ourselves walking the dusty paths and dirt roads of Los Malvinas, a very poor area of town.

October 12, 2010

Spotlight: Molly Mednikow, Founder of Amazon CARES

Please note:  This is a reprint from:

Blogger Spotlight: Molly Mednikow, Founder and Executive Director of Amazon CARES

Tuesday, August 24, 2010 by Caitlin and Rachel on BlogPaws

Here at, we love offering up-to-date information about pet moving and travel, picking the right dog crate, etc..., but we know that the pet community is interested in learning about bigger issues and charities around the world, too. On that note, we thought we'd tell you about Amazon Community Animal Rescue, Education and Safety (CARES), an organization that works to improve life for humans and animals throughout the Peruvian Amazon. Founded in 2004 by Molly Mednikow with the goal of working to protect the stray animals so often found in this part of the world, Amazon CARES stands up for the most powerless among us.

A Tennessee native with a background in business, Molly decided to pack up and move to Peru when previous charity work brought her there a few years ago. After witnessing the tragic amount of animal suffering in cities like Iquitos, Molly decided to sell her share of her family's business and put her money where her heart was. Thus was born Amazon CARES, which would eventually become a busy and broadly-reaching charity with several ongoing projects including a vet clinic, a no-kill shelter, rescue programs and volunteer opportunities.

We’ve asked Molly, who will be attending BlogPaws 2010 West next month, to answer a few questions about her experiences, her motivations and her advice on how to become involved. Thanks, Molly, and keep up the great work!

What improvements has Amazon CARES made possible since it began?

No domestic animal welfare organizations exist in the Peruvian Amazon, with the exception of Amazon CARES. Since 2004 we have managed to stop local governments from mass culling of street dogs via poisoning or shooting. We also forced a traveling circus out of the city by exposing their paying people for live domestic animals to feed their tigers. The number of abandoned and sick dogs on the street is greatly reduced. In the beginning we had to beg people to sterilize their pets. Now, whenever we have a free mobile clinic, we have to deal with crowd control!

You lived in Peru for four years. What was an average day like there?

I still spend months of each year in Peru, and my day is much like another person’s day. Except that I travel to work by boat instead of car! I live on the same property as our no-kill shelter and it is comfortable but rustic. We have a generator but my hours are very much dictated by the sun. I live surrounded by exotic trees, plants, animals, and of course, dogs. The day starts early, before the heat sets in, and the “Guardian” for the property takes me to town via a 30 minute boat ride.

We have a modern office with air conditioning in the center of town. The veterinary clinic is operated by a great team of professionals, all Peruvian. I work at the computer in the office. I usually do not take the two hour lunch break when the office closes from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. However, since I live in the jungle, I have to leave early each day, by 5 p.m. at the latest, to make sure we (the Guardian and me) don’t get lost in the dark on the Amazon River.

The food at the jungle shelter is delicious. I always prefer staying there rather than in town. At night, I usually read and go to bed early.

What are the biggest challenges or surprises you’ve encountered since this charity began?

After the charity had been open for six months, I began to realize that I had failed to deal with cultural attitudes towards animals within the Amazon CARES staff! I just assumed they understood what I understood. After attending a Humane Society International conference I realized that I had to teach them about animal welfare and sensitivity towards the very animals they were being paid to care for. I used to scrub the kennels because I was dissatisfied with how others did the job. However, I had not taught them the WHY behind the WHAT. Once they understood the high risks of NOT cleaning thoroughly, they changed.

I tried to help them see life throught the eyes of an abandoned animal, and made sure they knew that every moment spent outside of a kennel is a blessing for a dog or cat. Of course, I dealt with these same cultural differences within the Peruvian community, and changing those perceptions has taken more time, and will be a continuing effort.

October 7, 2010

The Story of Olvi

In July of 2010, a dog was abandoned in a village 45 miles from Iquitos where she was noticed by a team of American and Peruvian doctors, nurses, and educators. After some detective work, it was discovered that the animal simply been dumped from a boat from people who lived some distance from the village, and who then returned to their homes.
The dog was emaciated – literally skin and bones. It was hard to imagine that such a skeletal specimen had ever been healthy enough to get pregnant, but her prolapsed uterus told the story of childbirth, and puppies gone who-knows-where. She trembled where she lay; her open sores buzzed with flies, and fleas leapt and capered, visible to the naked eye on her sparsely furred skin.
One member of the team fed her, and after several days, her strength slowly began to return. However, her extreme weakness made it apparent that if she was to survive, half measures would not suffice: she needed to be rescued. Unfortunately, the team had to leave the village, with plans to return again in a couple of days. Food was left with the village children who promised to care for the dog. One of the team members had heard of Amazon CARES, and contacted it to obtain a crate for her rescue.
When the team returned to the village, the dog was sitting in the same spot, looking expectantly toward the river. She immediately came to the team members when they approached. She was crated, and she spent the next four hours snoozing on the boat ride out of the jungle and into Iquitos.
She was met with open arms at Amazon CARES where she was christened “Olvi.”
Olvi because she was una olvidada, a forgotten one.
Olvi because she is inolvidable - unforgettable.

The effort was so worth it. I can't believe the change. Aren't food, medical care and love grand?!!!
- Doctor involved in Olvi's initial rescue
A special "thank you" to Anita Soluna for sharing her story and "before" photo with us, as well as for saving Olvi's life!

October 2, 2010

WEHT Pics: Rescues Inez & Jessica?

As I embark on another happy voyage to the beautiful Peruvian Amaon region, I reflect on the trip Amazon CARES completed in June and July of 2010. It seems like yesterday! Along with our French and Peruvian volunteers, we rescued various dogs that we named, and we became attached to them. Anita Soluna, an American woman doing much medical volunteer work in the region rescued two dogs from the jungle, and Nicolla Kopp of Holland rescued a delightful cocker spaniel mix from the Port of Bella Vista Nanay.

Now that I am back, I can finally answer the many questions of "Whatever happened to...?" And in this instance, pictures are worth more than words. I will continue this series with photos of Sheena and Olvi and Romaine and more!

Inez, two months ago.

Inez, almost completely recovered

Jessica, extremely shy at time of her rescue.

Jessica almost recovered.

As always, your donations and support enable us to continue rescuing animals like these, who will surely be adopted due to their happy personalities. Check out our brand spanking new website at Become a Supporting Member for $25 and receive a beautiful 2011 wall calendar (a $15 value, plus no shipping costs!) and more goodies!

August 28, 2010

CARES featured in UK TV Hit!

In November 2009 Luke Gamble, Founder and Director of the Worldwide Veterinary Service, spent time in Iquitos filming for a new TV series airing in Great Britain. Luke Gamble's Vet Adventures returns to Sky1 for a second series.  Click to read Luke's blog, see behind the scenes photo's and visit the charities that are in the TV series.  The show airs on Wednesdays, 8pm on Sky1 and Sky1HD.

 Long-time readers may recall the blog written by "bad actress" Annie Cook during the filming of the series.  On Wednesday, September 1, 2010, the episode filmed in Peru featuring Amazon CARES will air in the United Kingdom!

You can find out more on the series, including behind the scenes photos, Lukes daily blog and the Vet Adventures promo video by visiting

Vet Adventures Promo Series 2 from Vet Adventures on Vimeo.

You can find out more on the series, including behind the scenes photos, Lukes daily blog and the Vet Adventures promo video by visiting

August 17, 2010

Volunteer Lodging Offers Creatures, Comfort

Here the day starts with the sun filtering through the screens, the sounds of insects and birds in the trees and the occasional dog bark. Breakfast is at the table with fresh fruit, juice, eggs and toast. The journey to work is a thirty minute speed boat ride along the river with the chance of a pink river dolphin to delay the trip rather than a broken down car that jams the motorway.

Dr. Annie Cook, CARES Volunteer

Volunteers who stay at the Cabo Lopez CARES facility are often surprised at the amenities and charms of the jungle lodging. With electricity from a generator, indoor bathroom, filtered water from the tap, multiple bedrooms and a kitchen, the volunteer lodge is far from the “roughing it” one might expect from the remote area.

However, amid the prosaic comforts of a warm meal and a soft bed after the end of a long day, you cannot escape the otherworldliness of the jungle outside. Abutting a forest, you are continually reminded of the wildness of your surroundings: from the constant insect drone, the riotous cacophony of jungle bird life, and the monkeys that forage in the trees on the grounds, the Cabo Lopez site is a haven in the middle of nature at its most exotic and primordial.

In addition to the comfortable accommodations, volunteers are treated to delicious, fresh meals prepared on site by Marlene, CARES’ remarkable chef/laundress/caretaker. As Dr. Jo Langford reported, “Marlene was our heroine at Cabo Lopez who cooked, did our laundry and generally cleaned up after us. Dinner would always be ready upon our return “home” and she never ceased to amaze with a variety of dishes, fresh juices and fruit.”

Dr. Alex Belch, a veterinarian volunteer, stayed in Cabo Lopez during the dry season, and so traveled by land rather than by boat from Iquitos. "Our jungle home was an enjoyable 20 minute ride from the centre of Iquitos, passing through a couple of local villages on the way. The house was very comfortable with sofas, tv and a kitchen where Marlany the housekeeper was always on hand with a fresh jungle fruit juice. Our room had bunkbed and shower and certainly had no trouble sleeping after a bust day volunteering for AmazonCares!"

Veterinarian and veterinarian technician volunteers are always high in demand, as are carpenters or construction experts to aid in the creation and repair of shelter facilities. Lay volunteers are also welcome to aid in socializing some of the shelter pets.

If you are interested in volunteering in Iquitos and/or Cabo Lopez, wish to gather more information about Amazon CARES and its work, or even make a donation to this non-profit organization, please visit our website at

Written by CARES Volunteer Linda Schwefel

The North Face Logo

August 13, 2010

My New #FollowFriday TOS

I have read many blog articles over the last year about Twitter and #followfriday.  Animal related Tweeters are also aware of #meowmonday, #woofwednesday and don't forget the myriad of other hashtags related to making a "shout-out" to friends/followers and sometimes, complete strangers.

Of course I want to greet and acknowledge my friends, but, let's face it, hasn't it become a bit cumbersome.  An obligation?  I spent two months in South America and finally returned to regular Internet access.  I felt guilty for all the people I didn't acknowledge during my time away.  Did many of them notice?  I would love to hear your comments.

We are pretty busy people.  How much time do you spend on these special hashtag days?  Again, would love your comments.

So, I am going to try an experiment and see what happens to my follower count and my interaction with Tweeters, who I dearly love (Twitter is my fave social networking tool).

I will attempt to compile a short list of people to #followfriday each week.  This is more than a list.  It is a list of who, what and WHY.  No promises on the weekly list, but I plan to try.

In early 2010 I compiled several "Favorite Twitter Lists" and the link is a re-cap.  So, as much as I LOVE these people, I will not highlight them on my new Twitter Lists.

Now to work on my next blog, in which I will presenting my Twitter #FollowFriday list for Friday, August 13, 2010.  Stay Tuned. 

Related Blogs: 

August 10, 2010

Give-Away! Handmade Tapestry (Peru)

 New Give-Away!  This tapestry hand embroidered by the Shipibo Indians of Peru´s Amazon Region!

Learn how to enter!  Contest ends August 30 at 5 PM EST.

I love these artisan fabrics, which require HAND-WASHING.  Each tapestry is one-of-a-kind.  This design is bordered by a dark brown fabric.  I have used these as thick table runers, but my favorite use for them is to make them into a comfy and unique decorative pillow, or as a conversation starting wall hanging!


More about the Shipibo Indians:

The Shipibo Indians reside at the southwestern edge of the vast Amazon Basin in Peru. Shipibo Indians are River Indians living along the banks and tributaries of the Amazon River. The Shipibo people are primarily artisns, hunters, and fishermen and some practice slash-and-burn agriculture. Primary tools are machetes and spears. Virtually none of the villages have electricity. A small number of Shipibo people live in Iquitos where they make and sell their uniquely patterned art and craft.

The Shipibo-Conibo consist of around 35,000 people living in three to four hundred villages located north and south of the town of Pucallpa on the Ucayali River, which connects Cuzco to the Brazilian Amazon. All of the villages use barter for trade, but their proximity to the burgeoning town of Pucallpa makes it inevitable that the people will soon be drawn into modern trade and exploitation.

They speak a language of the Panoan family, though some of them are starting to learn Spanish. Despite 300 years of sporadic contact with white or mestizo civilization, and massive conversion to Christianity in the 1950’s and 60’s the Shipibo-Conibos maintain a strong identity and retain their ancient ways. They are known for their intricate designs on their pottery and their bright clothing.

The Shipibo are well known for their distinctive pottery and textiles. In their culture the designs they use are traditionally copied from the skin of the Giant Anaconda or the heavens, such as the Southern Cross. Many other designs were given to them by their culture hero Incan ancestors. Their cotton cloth is hand painted in traditional designs. The cloth is worn as a wrap around loin cloth by the women of the tribe as well as being used for other functions.

(Text from the Peruvian Amazon Indian Institute)

July 31, 2010

Brigitte Bardot Supports Vet Trip

The Amazon CARES team, supported by two veterinary volunteers from Lima, peru and three veterinary volunteers from France has completed an intensive two week Veterinary campaign in Iquitos, Peru.

Our intensive and costly campaigns are made possible by many generous donors.  The Brigitte Bardot Foundation, a Platinum Benefactor of Amazon CARES, is especially important in the funding of these Veterinary campaigns.  Thank you to this generous and internationally respected Foundation for granting Amazon CARES substantial funds for the second year in a row.

The environmental health campaign addresses the issue of parasites in pets, street animals and humans.  Humans are affected by parasites and various communicable diseases.  As always, the campaigns also focused on spaying and neutering street dogs to help control animal overpopulation.

This successful campaign resulted in the treatment of more than 100 animals per day, and on some days, more than 200!  Over 142 sterilization surgeries took place as well!  Human treatments for parasites were also distributed. 

A strong educational component helped people understand how to better care for the pets and the importance of quality veterinary care.

It is always exciting to travel further out to help communities with no access to veterinary campaign.  Thus, this campaign started on July 12 in the community Santa Maria de Ojeal and continued on the 13th in Sichicuy.  Both small villages are an hour outside of Iquitos and must be reached by boat.  Volunteers received free accomodation thanks to the generosity of the Tucan Amazon Lodge.

On the 14th the campaign continued, and all worked at a fast pace, spending 2-3 days in each location.  The campaign took place in several well-populated, yet rural neighborhoods in or around Iquitos. These included Punchana, Port of Bella-Vista Nanay, Plaza of Sargento Lores and the City Park of Iquitos.
Following this successful Veterinary Trip, we look forward to our October Trip in conjunction with the Brigitte Bardot Foundation and the Worldwide Veterinary Service.  This trip will see the return of a fave volunteer, Dr. Barbara Bennett, who is also a Platinum Sponsor of Amazon CARES!

Related Blog Entries:  Brigitte Bardot Saves Animal Shelter

July 28, 2010

A time to beg, a time to thank...

On July 18 I published a blog entitled Rescued Dogs in Need.  Please Do Not Turn Away.  It is rare for me to publish a blog that so blatantly asks for donations.   However, with our veterinary campaigns ongoing, we are rescuing more dogs than usual, and I wanted to show people the FACE of these needy animals.

Thank you SO VERY MUCH to several Donors that didn´t think twice about supporting us in our desire to save these three dogs.  They are Candy Benedicto, Lesa Steeves, Christina Walsh and Stacey Tollackson.  Thank you for your generosity.  Two of these benefactors are featured below.

Carol "Candy" Benedicto
Carol "Candy" Benedicto has been a benefactor of CARES for many years. We even named one of our beautiful rescue dogs, now with a forever family, after her. Carol grew up in Manila, went to college at Cal Berkeley and Parsons, and law school at Fordham. She resides in New York City, where she is a designer and a legal editor. She started supporting CARES after coming across photos of our work and the many animals we help. "I've only known love from the dogs I've been lucky to meet in this life, so it's always a heartbreak when I see dogs suffering. When I learned about Amazon Cares, its mission, and its work in Iquitos, I couldn't just turn away. I continue to support CARES not only to help the animals, but to thank people like Molly and her staff for their work -- they show the world that respect for animals and a commitment to their welfare are not only the right things to do, but are essential to a healthy community."

Lesa Steeves

Lesa Steeves has also rescued and had a specific dog named for her (and since adopted!).  Like Carol, she is a longtime supporter of CARES.  She adores her Peruvian Pasos She adores her Peruvian Paso Horses, the National pride of Peru. She's travelled extensively in Peru and has seen first hand the animal welfare concerns in the country. She feel it's important that CARES is helping in the Iquitos area where there used to be no voice for animals at all before CARES started their organization.

July 24, 2010

Insights from a Donor, now a Volunteer!

Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Charlie Bond.  I am a donor to Amazon Community Animal Rescue, Education and Safety (Amazon CARES). Since June 21, I have been a volunteer for Amazon CARES in Peru. I am seeing the amazing work of Amazon CARES up close and for the first time.

Over the past month, I have had the opportunity to see veterinarians at work on behalf of CARES. They have been involved in campaigns sterilizing dogs and cats and ridding them of fleas, ticks, internal parasites and mange. The humane education campaigns are front and center, taking place along with the free Veterinary clinics. I am also pleased to report that CARES distributes anti-parasite medications to the human population as well, with over 7700 treatments distributed in 2010 alone.

As an Amazon Cares donor and volunteer, I wish to thank you for your support of this cause. Having seen work of Amazon CARES first-hand, I am more convinced than ever that my donations to this charity are well-spent. Come to Iquitos; see what I have seen; and you will be inspired to donate generously to this selfless cause. If you can not visit Iquitos, keep up with Amazon CARES through their website, subscribe to this blog, and follow them on Twitter! You will see that your support is needed and not a penny goes to waste.

As you know, Amazon CARES oversees the welfare of domestic animals in the Amazon region of Peru, focusing its efforts in Iquitos, rural areas and communities as distant as Columbian and Ecuadorian border villages.

The number of abandoned and stray animals in Iquitos is astounding. Yet, a significant decrease in these numbers through animal birth control campaigns, rescue and re-homing, along with a healthy dose of education has made a difference due to the diligent work of Amazon Community Animal Rescue, Education and Safety.


Charlie Bond
Nashville, TN

P.S. I welcome your feedback and comments. Please write and tell me if and why you support CARES.