Expedition 2018 - Home Again
Hello Good Project followers and supporters! I've recently returned to my Pennsylvanian home from our latest expedition to my other home in Yanomami territory. What a change in weather! Here it is -8 degree Fahrenheit. Compare that to a steady 85 degrees in the tropics I feel like I've been thrown into a giant freezer! This trip - it was a wild, difficult ride to say the least. Let's recap some of it. For the first time I had contracted malaria. Let me tell you - it really kicked my butt. Once my temperature reached 105 degrees Fahrenheit, I had become delirious and quite scared. The uncontrollable shaking and tremors accompanied by debilitating pain left me in a sour mood for much of my time in my village. Luckily, I had antimalarial medicines and my uncles spent days battling for my soul in the spirit world. Together, they saved my life. Unfortunately, malaria, among other introduced diseases, are on the rise in Yanomami-land and so it makes our mission to support medical health projects that much more important.
My team and I initiated a biological research project for the first time in a Yanomami village called Coshi; but only after faced with great skepticism, scorn and distrust from the Yanomami leaders. We were barraged by one Yanomami leader after another with anger and diatribe. And rightly so. Research among the Yanomami has had a checkered and dark past. I was so impressed with our team as they patiently took on the transgressions of every past scientist on their shoulders. Opening up and honest dialogue is one of the first steps towards healing and building trust. In the end, after we completed our research, our biggest critics came up to us and thanked us. Why did they thank us? Well, we were transparent, honest, created an atmosphere of inclusivity, and we were responsible. We brought in medicines and other medical aid to treat the sick and injured. We even saved a young boy's life from the bite of the deadly fer-de-lance snake. We showed that we cared through our words AND actions. We had set precedence and raised the bar for ethically conducting research.
I know many of you have been waiting so long for news of my mother. Well, she is alive and well; happy and strong. She remarried and lives in Hasapuwei now. She was so excited to see me. I hate that she has to wait so long for my return and that she must live in worry and uncertainty of when I would come back. But I tell her not to worry, I will always come back. We share many laughs as usual. Strikingly, she initiated the conversation on her visit to the United States. She is very eager to come back and see the rest of her family. She told us that while I was gone, she had gotten so sick she thought that was going to die. As she gets older and closer to mortality, I believe that her journey to this world to see her family at least once more is high priority on her bucket list. I will do everything in power to bring her back. She is such a special, strong woman. Unfortunately, on this trip we just didn't have the resources to move forward in getting her paperwork started. I couldn't risk taking her out Yanomami territory without a sure guarantee that she could safely return to her village. There is a deep risk that she could get "stuck" in the cities and I need to minimize that. We are not giving up though! We are reworking our strategy and I ensured mom that the next time I come down, I will take her out and we will make it to the US.
Well, there is so much to share. The Good Project has a new website now: jointhegoodproject.org It's our new home and allows us to operate more efficiently in raising awareness and engaging with all of you. This is going to be an AMAZING year. Keep in mind that I am only one member of this great team and we look forward to introducing all of us. Stay tuned for more stories, pictures, videos, and more. I want the world to know the Yanomami people and how we must protect the Amazon; their home and livelihood. As always, we appreciate all the support we can get.
David Ayopowe Good