UNM students aiding in flooded Bolivia

Updated: 02/13/2014 8:59 AM | Created: 02/12/2014 7:05 PM
By: Jorge Torres, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Historic floods are devastating Bolivia, wiping out villages and towns throughout the countryside.

Students and faculty at UNM are concerned about the situation in South America, especially because two of their own are there.  

Ben Trumble and Matt Schwartz are currently doing research there.

Helen Davis, a student who's also done research in Bolivia, is really worried about them.

"Obviously, it comes with the territory when you work in the developing world," Davis said.

The Tsimane, an indigenous people that reside in the region are dealing with food shortages and rationing of electricity. It's a dire situation for everyone down there, including Ben and Matt, who talked to us on Skype today.

Trumble says it's pretty bad out there.

"It's about chest high water and people were trapped on what used to be a basketball court. When we got there, it was the highest ground in the area," he said.

Another concern besides flooding: the potential for disease to spread.

Dr. Hillard Kaplan, a professor of anthropology at UNM, says the sewage systems has completely flooded through.

"Dengue fever is likely to be one of the consequences," the professor said.

It's something Ben and Matt are seeing already. They say people are suffering from a form of fungus, because the water was chest high.

Trumble and Schwartz will be in Bolivia until at least the summer, helping out the people they've learned about and lived with.

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