A diocese in the northern Brazilian state of Pará has built a boat that will navigate the Amazon River for about a thousand kilometres, offering health and spiritual care to about 700,000 people in the region. Source: The Tablet.
The Óbidos Diocese boat is manned both by health professionals and religious missionaries.
This original idea came up in a meeting between Pope Francis and Brazilian friars, led by Fr Francisco Belotti, OFM, in 2013. The project of the “Hospital Boat Pope Francis” also receives support from public authorities.
According to Bishop Bernardo Bahlmann OFM, the long distances of the Amazonian region makes it difficult for health care professionals and missionaries to reach communities. When someone is sick, they often resist leaving in search for treatment as they fear the trip. Many end up finding alternative healing treatments with plants, teas, root soups, etc.
On July 6, a large outside Mass celebrated the inauguration of the boat named after the Pope, in Óbidos.
“After a long time, we finally receive the Hospital Boat Pope Francis, which came to save many lives and offer health assistance to the people of this region. This is an extraordinary moment of us”, the German Franciscan bishop said on a Facebook video.
“We needed a solution to look after the people near the Amazon River. We had a dream but we did not know how to accomplish this.”
Initially, the boat will keep its base in Óbidos and go out for 10-day expeditions. It offers clinical assistance, but also has a surgical centre, a laboratory, and nursery beds. The boat is equipped to perform vaccination campaigns and clinical tests, as well. Cases of greater complexity will be referred to the base hospitals of Óbidos, Juruti and Alenquer.