War Veteran Steve Maurice Rides Horseback into Dangerous Jungles of Colombia to Save Indigenous People
STEVE MAURICE IN COLOMBIA
THE FORGOTTEN PEOPLE
This is the extraordinary story of one of those special friends, that one day, just happened to walk into my life! There are no coincidences. Everyone we meet, comes into our lives for a specific purpose, and its not just by accident, that I was destined to meet Steve Maurice, a few years ago, in the beautiful, subtropical city of Corpus Christi. One Sunday morning, we met briefly at a local church. On this particular Sunday,after the noon service, I decided to stop in at the fellowship hall, for coffee, snacks, and great conversation!
A new man, Steve Maurice, was seated directly across from me, I noticed his warm smile, and friendly manner. My first impression was that he was a quiet, reflective older man. Soon we were talking like old friends.
I had the opportunity to speak to Steve, on several occasions, after our initial meeting at Unity church. I remember, in one of our discussions, he'd once told me that, he'd served in Vietnam. I found out later, that Steve had served with the 173rd Airborne, Caspar Aviation Platoon, during the Vietnam War from 1965 to 1966. He was a gunner on a Huey. He survived being shot down three times.
Steve was not one to cry about the war.. At a later time, he stated, "I was proud to serve with the greatest fighting brigade in the world, "A man has to do what he has to do".
" I did my job, and I never regretted it, jumping out of airplanes, and helicopters was a blast for me." Steve had an adventuresome spirit in his youth...
He later said, "There was a time when, I thought, I was doing a good thing with good guys for a good cause. " Looking back, I think I really wanted to be a warrior, and then I was handed things to harm others."
Steve said, "In my late 20's, I met a man that taught, me how to help others and live in peace, I am now thankful, this man came into my life, to change my way of thinking."
"I am still a warrior at heart, but not for man, but for God, he's my commander-in-chief."
One Sunday afternoon, Steve informed me, that he was leaving on an extended trip to Colombia. I was sorry to hear, he"d be leaving us. For some reason, I thought he'd be returning to Corpus Christi. We exchanged phone numbers and email addresses, and then we said, our goodbyes at Unity church. That would be the last time, I'd see him.
Steve and I would continue emailing each other, off and on for a couple of years, and then one day we became friends on Facebook..That's when I really had a chance to get to know Steve.
Steve was originally from Fort Scott, Kansas, and, one day he commented that, "I was nearly killed in a random shooting by a madman, years before..He shared this information, after the recent tragic shootings at the premier opening of "Batman", in Aurora, Colorado. He said, "I know what they have gone through, and I feel deep compassion for the victims, survivors and their families." .. Luckily he'd survived, his own harrowing ordeal. I told him that I felt he was protected by God, and he agreed..
Steve has a good sized ranch, in Quindo, Armenia, near the Andes Mountains. He moved to Colombia 12 years ago. Steve is a humanitarian, and has been helping to save the Native indigenous, people of Colombia, with his own resources..
The government had forbidden the native indigenous people to work in their small towns. They were not allowed to make their Indian beads, as a means of supporting themselves. They were not allowed even to work. Soon they were driven out, of their homes, into drenching monsoon rain..away from their homes and towns.. Steve heard about their desperate plight and began helping the people. He hired many of them to work on his ranch. He began feeding, clothing, and providing shelter for them..
I too, know personally how it feels to be driven out of your home, by a senseless act of violence. It happened to me, and I fled for my life at the age of 18. I was one of the lucky ones..I fled to safety, with help...from a family member..and I can only imagine how these people are feeling!
Some people, in Colombia, refer to Steve as a modern day, "John Wayne." Steve frequently rides into the jungle on his horse, taking mules, chickens, food, seeds and clothing to provide provisions for the poor indigenous people. He recently appeared in court, pleading for help for the people...but it was unsuccessful.
Colombia is one of the wettest countries in the world, and it lacks water for houses because of poor planning.
Steve wonders, "Can there really be peace in Colombia? He feels, that the government talks about peace, but there will be no peace, until the government, starts helping the poor."
Steve has traveled to Choco, the poorest state in Colombia, many times. He states, " The government, it seems, has forgotten the black and indigenous people, where the only available drinking water is the run-off, from their makeshift homes, and when it rains, infants often die from diarrhea, malaria, and other diseases, simply because the government won't furnish transportation to hospitals."
Steve states "The people have no hope.. How can anyone respect a government that doesn't care if your children live or die? Steve is not about judging the government, he just wants to help these people! "They talk about peace, when they should be talking about love, helping with medical care, providing hospitals and schools." Even the churches in Colombia, have refused to help these people.
Steve has been trying to get a hospital boat for the people that live near the rivers in Choco, but they lack the funds to get them transported to the hospitals. It takes up to 4-12 hours by boat to get to a hospital. As Steve travels into the remote areas of Colombia, he has been warned many times how dangerous it is to travel there. Choco, is the main route of trafficking drugs, by different guerrilla and paramilitary groups.
Recently, the government told Steve to stay out the state of Choco, because of the risk of yellow fever, malaria,and other jungle diseases. The dangers of being kidnapped by guerrillas, or paramilitaries that control the rivers, is a big one, but Steve states "I'm willing to risk my safety, if I can help even one sick child."
News of a gringo travels fast, in these parts, but that's not Steve's biggest worry. At his age, they won't give him the yellow fever shot, and his biggest fear is always about the women and children..They are so forgotten. They need doctors, and just simple basic health care..He states, " The man with the gun, is the least of my troubles, I fear him not"..
"These are the forgotten people, with no health care, no money, and no hope." Steve heard recently, that the president of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, was coming to visit Armenia for talks with the indigenous people from Cauca. So far, we have not been informed as to how the meeting transpired, for the indigenous people or even, as to what the president had to say about their serious concerns.
This man is awesome, and he's determined to serve God, by helping these people. I told him, I wanted to write his story...and share it.. He gave me permission, to write the story as I wished... He does not seek publicity for himself, but only for the people. He is "Mother Teresa" to these people, and they love him. I'm proud to have him as my friend.
Steve has depleted his own funds, to provide aid for these poor forgotten people. The International Red Cross and the Red Crescent movement is the world's largest humanitarian network. They are unable to assist the native people..The movement is neutral and impartial, and provides protection and assistance to people affected by natural disasters and conflicts..
Contributions are needed to save these people and hopefully the Colombian government, will have a change of heart, and send out the necessary help required, to save these wonderful people. There is a big concern, expressed by the UN, that the Indigenous people are in danger of extinction..
I just heard from Steve Maurice.He reported that on Sunday, October 1, 2012, that a 7.1 earthquake occurred, south of Choco, in the state of Cauca and Steve reports they felt the shock within a 150 mile radius. Its their second earthquake this year. He further stated, "Many people here, are now on pins and needles, as they now have an active volcano, where he's living in Quindo Armenia" At this time, there is no reported damage, caused by the deep quake, and they are doing ok." Steve is planning to take more supplies into Choco next week..The government, DAS seized, but have now released Steve's, ID because of the earthquake, and have given Steve permission, to travel into Choco..
EARTHQUAKE 7.3 IN COLOMBIA
CONDITIONS WORSENING FOR THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLE
0CTOBER 2,2012, STEVE MAURICE, IS RECEIVING REPORTS OF MANY SICK CHILDREN IN CHOCA. CONDITIONS ARE WORSENING FOR THE INDIGENOUS, BECAUSE OF ALL THE RAIN THEY ARE NOW RECEIVING .THEY RECEIVE OVER 500 INCHES OF RAINFALL PER YEAR..RAIN GEAR, MOSQUITO NETTING, BLANKETS, FOOD, FRESH WATER, AND MEDICAL SUPPLIES ARE DESPERATELY NEEDED...