Project: Global Health Clinical Housing Unit
Where: Amazon River, Sinchicuy, Peru
In Northern Peru, the Amazon River Basin exists as a relatively undisturbed region of jungle, populated by small villages surviving off the lifeblood of the Amazon River. The people in these villages drink, wash their clothing, defecate, bathe, and swim in the over a mile wide snaking body of brown water – it is everything to them. Their homes are small wooden shanties constructed from the trees in the surrounding forest. These conditions are normal to them, and they are happy to lead these simple lives, yet the medical consequences of their society are evident. Parasites and anemia are common, infant mortality rates high, and any accident or illness requires an hours long trip by boat to the nearest medical center. Cultural norms include rampant domestic abuse, nearly non-existent parent to child relationships, and prevalent rates of teen pregnancy. The people do not know much about sanitation, handwashing, proper eye care, or brushing their teeth – all things that we take for granted in our society.
TreanorHL has partnered with Centura Health to serve these populations and finally provide them with the healthcare that we are blessed with every day. Together, we designed a building to be a home base for volunteers to live in and serve the populations.
During design, Centura Health engaged the communities to determine their needs as it was important to all of us that the people be invested in these changes as we did not want to force any ideas on them. Together, we developed a building that provided community space for educational classes as well as living accommodations for long term volunteers to stay and provide this much needed care. Because of this space, volunteers were able to live among the people, developing trust and relationships, without being a burden on the people. The space became a gathering place for the community and a haven of education, socialization, and safety. By incorporating passive solar and water systems, volunteers staying in the clinical housing unit were able to have running water and basic electricity in the depths of the jungle, and therefore maintain a standard of living closer to what they are accustomed to for the nine months that they serve the community. Classes are held in the building to educate families on relationship dynamics, nutrition, hand-washing, and so much more, and already the changes in the community are overwhelming. The mayor of the second village this prototype housing unit has been built had this to say about the program: “The project has had a major impact in our lives. It has helped us to better ourselves, to have a vision, being orderly in the different aspects of life, spiritual, physical and the project has helped us to have a better appreciation of our families.”
The ability to use our talents in architecture to change the world has been a humbling experience, and I invite everyone to recognize the amazing abilities they have and how these can be shared with the world. We look forward to continuing to give back and provide healthcare globally!