By Kimberly Rojas, Peru Flying Labs
The Peruvian Amazon is extremely vast and remote. Many communities live hours away from the nearest city, and most of them can only be reached by river or air; the first takes too long, and the second is very expensive. In these places, there are often no hospitals or schools—and if there is one, it’s only open about once a week.
As part of a company working with UAVs, we travel and go to these remote areas very often, finding and exploring the reality of the population in these environments, mostly living in precarious conditions. Maybe going to these places with our resources wouldn’t be possible or not on such a scale, so we take advantage of the time when we are working in this kind of location. The Drone School project is something we were doing a long time ago, every time we go to some isolated place inside of the country, we always find excited kids eager to learn. So, we decided to dedicate a couple of hours to teach them basic theory about drones, and if there’s enough time, we show them how to fly.
This project began in September 2019 and lasted until the end of November. During this time, our team toured 14 towns along the Ucayali River, interspersing shifts so that each does not exceed two weeks away from home. All these sites were situated between two main cities, Pucallpa and Iquitos, from where we departed each time. The principal means of transport to navigate this river was the “sliders,” these vehicles are small boats that can go fast. In this way, travel time decreased significantly. In some parts, we even use light aircraft due to the difficulty of reaching these areas and the distance from the main cities, mostly between Pucallpa and Contamana. We spent many days traveling along the river, and we had to spend the night in these places to continue with our activities.
The objective of this project is to spread information about drone technology, which many of these children (typically aged 4 to 12 years old) have never seen in their life. Our primary topics are drone parts and usage, and during the time that we dedicate, it’s possible to engage approximately 100 children from different communities. Every town is very different, some of them have a tiny population, and others are more crowded. Furthermore, not every site has essential services like light and water, most of them only have light service 2 hours during the night and no clean water, they have to collect this, or some bring it from the nearest city.
These people live with the most basic, and most do not have or will have access to quality education in their lives. Not only because it is difficult to leave these places but also because it is difficult for them to dream, imagine a life beyond what they know, and they limit their abilities. We hope that by bringing them something they don’t see regularly and showing them the possibilities that exist outside, we can inspire them to continue with the desire to excel, and awaken in them the interest in science and technology.