In February 2003, Diana Bowie and Renzo Peña founded the 501c3 non-profit charitable organization in the United States, DB PERU, Inc. They also founded an organization in Peru with a similar not-for-profit status called ONG Asociación DB PERÚ (organismo no gubernamental) in May 2003. Both organizations have the same mission.
Our story began in January 2001 when Diana first visited Peru as a tourist. She returned again in May of that year. Touched by the people living in the jungle communities Diana knew that she wanted to help with their healthcare needs in some way.
Over the next year, she worked in several clinics, both public and private. The last clinic was in the small village of Mazán in the Centro de Salud (Center of Health). Mazán is about one hour down the Amazon River from Iquitos. The city of Iquitos is in the northeast of Peru, near Colombia and Brasil, in the Amazon rainforest.
One of the guides from a local jungle lodge, Raul Petit, told her that the villages on the Napo River were very needy for healthcare and in September 2002, Raul and Diana visited 6 villages on the lower Napo River. They held forums in each village to discuss the needs and problems of the people. From the data collected, the goals and actions for improving healthcare access and conditions became the basis for the mission for DB PERU.
In November 2002, Diana and Renzo Peña from Lima made their first trip down the Napo River to deliver medicines and supplies.
They have made more than 70 trips since that time with each visit having a different focus around the themes of education and care:
- Routinely educational seminars are provided for the local health workers (promotores) and midwives (parteras). Resources materials, books and supplies are included.
- With the help of local and foreign professionals, people receive medical and dental treatment during the visits. Follow-up on patients with previous medical concerns is done on subsequent visits, and occasionally the DB Peru boat acts as a ferry for people from the villages seeking healthcare in the clinics and hospitals.
- Medicines and supplies are delivered to the villages, in addition to appropriate items taken to the hospitals in Iquitos and the clinics in the jungle towns. Installation of radio and solar panels has improved communications in the villages, which is now being augmented with higher technology.
- The Annual Health Fair and Soccer Tournament began in 2009 bringing together 25 villages to participate in community health education and the prize of the “Copa DB Peru”.
- The Norma Louise Stainsby Memorial Scholarship Program was started to train nurses and lab technicians for young people from the jungle who have graduated high school.
- In 2011 a Women’s project was initiated to include screening for cancer with breast exams and pap smears, as well as assuring availability of birth control and sex education for teenagers. In 2013 data collection began for research on cervical cancer. In 2015 this will be continued with a focus on how human rights affects the health of women.
All medical work is done in conjunction with the Minister of Health in Peru, following their standards of care and teaching programs.
YouTube video was made during a speech by Diana Bowie for the American Women’s Literary Club (AWLC) in Lima, Peru relating the history and story of DB Peru. https://youtu.be/b9-ebTG2GZg