Hi, I’m Luquitas. I live in the Amazonian forest. My legs hurt when I walk. The doctor tells my Mom that I need an operation in Lima so that I could walk in the future. Even run! I am very afraid, but keep my fingers crossed. We need to stay in Lima for a few months, but my Mom has no money. Maybe you can help us! Check out the photos of me, my family and our village in the forest and get to know my world! And if you want to know more about my story, keep on reading - my godparents wrote this for me…
This is Lucas López Vásquez – ‘Luquitas’ or ‘Cocoleche’. He is now 5,5 years old. Lucas was born and lives in a really remote village in the Peruvian Amazon (native community Limón Cocha, see it on map). There are no roads, and in the local realities, it takes 5-7 days to get there from the nearest Amazonian town (Requena) on a boat with small motor.
From his earliest years, Lucas has been developing a bad case of tibia vara, or bowed-leggedness (wiki). It had not been treated and corrected. On top of that, when he was 2, he fell from the floor platform of a house, some 4-5 feet (1,5 meter). By now, he often refuses to walk, since his legs hurt. He needs to be carried by his Mom or siblings. Growing up more, he will not be able to maintain the body’s weight on his legs. And he will not be able to walk. This means that he will not be able to get food and survive, since hunting, fishing and working the field with an ax and machete are the essential and the only means of subsistence in his village.
We are his godparents (Sp. padrinos - or “padlinos”, as Luquitas himself says. This is because we were there when he was born to our friend Meri, and we cut his umbilical cord. He got Lukasz’s name, and his caring nickname Cocoleche is a local version of our tongue-twisting Polish surname. Between 2013 and 2016, we had kept in touch with Meri through a capricious village phone (it is too far for cellphone reception or Internet!).
It was only after almost 4 years that we were able to visit the village again. Luquitas had grown into a cute boy, a bit shy and with a world of his own. He was fascinated with motorcycles and cars, which he only saw as toys or on the rare occasion that he came to town. Yet, we also learned that what we had heard of as “his little limp” - was actually quite serious. He preferred to move on his fours in order to move efficiently, and the villagers were starting to call him cangrejo – "crayfish".
Ever since this visit, we were looking for ways to help him and his Mom Meri. Between 2016-17, we have managed to put Luquitas on the annual charity program in the Iquitos Clinic San Juan de Díos - in the capital of Loreto Department. The Clinic’s program is addressed to the children from the areas of extreme poverty. Luquitas went to Iquitos with his Mom for examinations, got qualified, and returned to the village awaiting the call for the operation. At this time, the phone in the village went dead for a few weeks, cutting off all communication. Luquitas had dropped out of the program. Another delay!
So this time, between 2017-18, we made sure that he got
into the same program, and that he, his Mom and his oldest sister Mini
(Minerva) stayed in Iquitos for all the medical examinations. It turned
out that his case is too complex for the Iquitos Clinic's facilities. He
needs to be operated urgently, in the geographically and culturally
remote capital of Peru, Lima. The Clinic’s program will cover costs of
the operation, the necessary rehabilitation and room for his Mom in
Lima. But it does not cover the living expenses and the medicine during
Lucas’ recovery. Meri is now a single mother of five children (ages
3-15). When in the village, her only way to earn (very little) money is
by making manioc flour (
fariña) and tapioca. She knows the
village life, but the city realities overwhelm her. She needs the
company of her 15-year old daughter, Mini, who can read, write, and
communicate with the city people better than her Mom.
As we write, Lucas, Meri, and Mini have been staying in Iquitos
for 2 months. They now stay at their auntie's and are awaiting the
operation date. The rest of the children stayed in the village with
Meri’s lovely mother, Doña Llerme. So far, we have always been helping
Meri by ourselves, but this time we find ourselves at loose ends. We
will not be able to provide for Meri and Luquitas (and hopefully Mini)
while they stay in Lima. We estimate the cost of their monthly stay and
medicine in Lima to be about 3000 Peruvian soles, that is about 760
euro. The stay can take anywhere from 3 to 6 months depending on Lucas'
recovery and rehabilitation.
It would, hopefully, be the last part of Lucas’ road to walking. Would you be willing to help us get Luquitas on his feet and cover for their stay in Lima?
If you are curious to know more, let us know – we’ll post updates with more detailed information.
Thanks for reading on!
Łukasz and Kinga Krokoszyńscy