Just a Drop helps Ecuador tribe


THE water aid charity for the international travel and tourism industry Just a Drop carried out a rescue mission in the summer to help preserve a remote tribe of South American Indians.

Explorer and president of Just a Drop, Colonel John Blashford-Snell, set out for the tropical jungle along with a 20 strong team of water engineers, doctors, dentists and nurses to help the tribe, which has no direct contact with the outside world.

The main purpose was to install a water pump for the tribe and build latrines for their school and local clinic.

Some of the funds needed to help buy the equipment for the project were raised recently by the Visit USA Association, and according to Peter Moss its chairman, this was the fourth year that the association had raised such funds.

“It is our chance to give back a little to those in far greater need than ourselves,” he said.

“We are delighted with the record sum of £4,000 that we raised at our annual Independence Day Ball and I now throw to gauntlet to the UK-US travel industry to do even better next year.”

Before the expedition left Fiona Jeffery, founder and chairman of Just a Drop said, “The tribe live deep in the Ecuador jungle and have been poorly treated by unscrupulous oil companies that have left their traditional hunting grounds and water sources heavily polluted with crude oil.”

“Near access to clean water is vital to avoid serious sickness, particularly amongst the children. They manage to collect some rainwater but mostly they are forced to use the dirty water from a nearby creek which they use for drinking, washing and cooking. It’s a terrible situation for a people who, against all the odds, are fighting to maintain their heritage and culture,” added Jeffery.

“This is the kind of situation where Just a Drop is likely to be their only hope. Other charities are simply not in a position to take on such projects, where the degree of difficulty, even to get to the community we want to help, is extremely high.”

In the village of Zabalo, Ecuador, the 130 inhabitants were apparently desperate for clean water. Two visits and a survey of the area had already established a friendly relationship with the tribesmen known as Cofans.

“They are keen conservationists and want to promote eco-tourism,” said Blashford-Snell. The village is surrounded by unexplored forest, home of over 800 species of birds, 150 mammals and thousands of species of plants - many of which are used for herbal medicine.”

Less than 1,000 Cofans remain, mostly living in Ecuador. The tribe became world famous because of their determination to protect their rainforest home from the oil and mining industries. The Ecuadorian government has now assigned the largest extension of rainforest land ever to be given to any native group, to be protected by the Cofans.

Thanks to the goodwill of the international travel and tourism industry, Just a Drop, which celebrates its 10th birthday this year, has helped over 850,000 people in 28 countries.