Making the Cacao Connection (Part 1)

[Published: March 2017]

What’s better than chocolate? Helping our partner community Chuya Yaku with cacao production, processing and in discovering potential value-added cacao products. Much of Arajuno Road Project’s work revolves around connecting local communities with resources that promote a healthy future in the Ecuadorian Amazon, and we couldn’t be happier with recent events. Thanks to our partnership with Farmer-to-Farmer, we’ve been able to connect several of our partner communities with a level of agricultural technical support normally inaccessible in our province of Ecuador. (Part 1 of series.)

Always on the quest with our partner communities to meet basic needs in sustainable ways, ARP has been helping with school and community gardens for more than five years. Our first goal has always been garden to table – getting produce on the school lunch plate and on the kitchen table. An important second has been income generation. A third goal, in the pursuit of environmentally-friendly options, has been to identify native plants that can meet the previous goals. And so it was that cacao found a place at ARP.

However, finding a worthwhile path forward is only the beginning. Our weekly agriculture rounds to our partner communities were already full. We were already foregoing our salaries on a regular basis and relying heavily on volunteers to be able to run our programs. The path was full of challenges that many people would consider impassible obstacles. It always is. We are used to this. The benefit of doing what you love is that as long as you can plant (figuratively) seeds for a healthy future, it’s worth it. We are now planting those seeds with the help of Farmer-to-Farmer.

Our partner community, Chuya Yaku, is advancing down this path thanks to cacao specialist Rip. He began his assignment with us in 2016. He returned in 2017 to continue this work. Week after week, he was on the road before the sun was up, heading down to a different community member’s farm, where the other farmers joined in. Demonstrate and practice. Learn and apply. Each week working on pruning, soils, pest control, etc.

After Rip’s first visit in 2016, local technicians from Ecuador’s national agricultural agency noticed the community had surpassed its neighbors in technical knowledge; when he returned in 2017, the local agricultural technicians also joined in and collaborated. We were all sad to see him go, but he leaves all of us with new knowledge and techniques for cacao cultivation and more.  

Read about Rip’s work in his own words:

While this blog post focuses on cacao, it would not be complete without acknowledging Rip’s many contributions to other area’s of ARP’s agricultural work. Equally important is to acknowledge the commitment and contribution of ARP’s Sub-Director and Agricultural Technician Rodrigo, Peace Corps Volunteers Leah and Alicea, and Farmer-to-Farmer specialist Alex (read his blog) to our Eco-Agriculture Program.

Written by Laura Hepting, Director of the Arajuno Road Project

Making the Cacao Connection (Part 2)

[Published: March 2017]

What’s better than chocolate? Helping our partner community Chuya Yaku with cacao production, processing and in discovering potential value-added cacao products. Much of Arajuno Road Project’s work revolves around connecting local communities with resources that promote a healthy future in the Ecuadorian Amazon, and we couldn’t be happier with recent events. Thanks to our partnership with Farmer-to-Farmer, we’ve been able to connect several of our partner communities with a level of agricultural technical support normally inaccessible in our province of Ecuador. (Part 2 of series.)

Meet Becca, Farmer-to-Farmer cacao specialist and indi chocolate guru. With a perfectly timed visit, she helped solidify ARP and Rip’s work (see part 1) by providing valuable insight into the end goals for the cacao farmers. Becca delivered a tasty cacao processing and value added workshop earlier this month.

She sums up wonderfully the experience on indi chocolate’s blog (full article follows with photos). Selected quotes:

“The cultivation of cacao offers a symbiotic solution with the rainforest and its people. It has the potential to bring a more holistic level of prosperity to the community and region without destroying their complex ecosystem.”

“Even though I did not have all of the answers for them my goal was to show them all the possibilities they had with the production of cacao. Empower them with the knowledge that they could have control of their own production and post harvest production of cacao and therefore have more control over price they charge for their cacao. I wanted them to know that there are more and more bean to bar chocolate makers in the Minority World that cared about the farmers. indi chocolate and other bean to bar makers want a fair and just price for cacao that was properly cared for, to pay farmers direct. We care about the success and well being of the farmer.”

“At some point during the workshop the energy shifted and I was no longer a necessary facilitator. I stood back and took photos of the community making their very first batch of chocolate. I over heard them talking about what they could add to the chocolate and who they could sell the chocolate to.

I made sure they separated the CCN-51 from the Cacao Nacional and without being prompted they tried the two side by side and proudly announced that the Cacao Nacional did not taste bitter at all and no sugar was needed. It was a magical moment, I could feel their eyes light up, the fire burning inside of them and it was infectious.”

Full blog article:

Amazon Cacao Farmers: Preventing Deforestation in Ecuador

Amazon Cacao Farmers: Preventing Deforestation in Ecuador

 

Chuya Yaku is a Kichwa community in Ecuador located in the heart of the Amazon. Their cacao growing efforts are preventing deforestation in the rainforest.

cacao production

In Kichwa, Chuya Yaku means clear water. Kichwa is the indigenous language spoken by just over 180 people that live in the community and is a common dialect of the region.

Until 2012 Chuya Yaku was inaccessible by road, the elders of the community report that it would take them over a week to reach Puyo, and two days to the nearest town. Once  oil industries found out that there was valuable oil in the region, they built a road with the intention of extracting resources. Excessive logging is a secondary effect of the road being built. In the last three years lumber and oil industries and even the local municipality have put money into road and bridge development for continued extraction of resources and extending roads farther into the rainforest.

illeagal logging

Even though resources are being exploited and creating a negative impact on surrounding communities, the majority of Kichwa people still would choose to have road access rather than being secluded in the jungle. On our way down to Chuya Yuku we saw at least ten illegal logging access points, half a dozen trucks carrying oil and brand new Volkswagon bus full of workers to aid in the extraction of oil.

Having an open dialogue about the communities’ experiences and hardships with cacao production was invaluable. They told me stories of how they continually get taken advantage of by greedy intermediaries, sometimes only getting 30 cents per pound of cacao. The intermediaries are buying cacao to sell to Nestle or other large chocolate corporations and are only concerned with the bottom line. The farmers also face diseases that infect their cacao pods, diseases like Monilia, that infect and rot the cacao pod.

talking with farmers

They have stories of government funded agencies coming in and giving them a high yield cacao, called CCN-51, which is less susceptible to diseases but lacks any flavor. Many farmers have left the more flavorful and native varietals to rot on the trees favoring the higher yielding varietals.

community sorting beans

It is clear that in order to prevent deforestation, contamination of the environment and the livelihood of its people, there needs to be opportunities for the Kichwa people to have a sustainable income as they become more and more exposed to a globalized world. When it comes to combating multinational oil and timber industries, they can use all the support and expertise they can get, as long as their best interests are being met.

farmers drinking chocolate

Chuya Yaku has dedicated a large portion of their territory to preserving their natural resources, many thanks to the Arajuno Road Project who worked with the Chuya Yaku on a community zoning and mapping project. If they can successfully make a living selling cacao instead of hardwood they can show other neighboring communities that there are better long-term solutions for their community than the complete destruction of the environment they live in.

The cultivation of cacao offers a symbiotic solution with the rainforest and its people. It has the potential to bring a more holistic level of prosperity to the community and region without destroying their complex ecosystem.

cacao producer

It is easy for me to be offer up my opinions on preserving the rainforest and present my solutions coming from a nation that is developed, otherwise known as the Minority World.  People in developing nations or the Majority World are still fighting for basic needs and often do whatever they can do to feed their families, the need direct incentives that help them feed their families in the short term. Offering long term solutions like the cultivation of cacao requires a lot of continued support and farmers already feel burned from past experiences working with companies from the Minority World.

When I first spoke with the farmers they wanted to know who was going to buy their cacao at a fair price if they spent the time to nurture their heirloom varietals, they wanted to know what could be done to build a fermentation center and drying center for the post harvest processing of cacao, what kind of materials they needed and how were they going to afford it. They wanted to know how to prevent their cacao from diseases. They wanted to know how many kilos of cacao they needed to produce to be able to have control of the price of their cacao. They wanted to trust that caring for their plants was worth it in order to support their families.

cacao

Even though I did not have all of the answers for them my goal was to show them all the possibilities they had with the production of cacao. Empower them with the knowledge that they could have control of their own production and post harvest production of cacao and therefore have more control over price they charge for their cacao. I wanted them to know that there are more and more bean to bar chocolate makers in the Minority World that cared about the farmers. indi chocolate and other bean to bar makers want a fair and just price for cacao that was properly cared for, to pay farmers direct. We care about the success and well being of the farmer.

Offering technical support, making connections and opening the door to possibilities is what I offered during my time spent with the community. The term direct trade was definitely a newer concept that took some time to explain, but was important for me to relay.

heart cacao

Throughout the class we tried various chocolate, made by bean to bar chocolate makers from the United States.  They tasted multiple bars all using Ecuadorian cacao, including indi chocolate.  None of them had ever tried chocolate made from Cacao Nacional beans.

Some cultures in what was once Mesoamerica have a special history with cacao, but in these jungle communities cacao is a fruit, like papaya or mango. The Kichwa do not have a history of making cacao into chocolate, so when they heard that I was going to teach them how to make chocolate they were very excited.

chocolate refiner

The first day we brought gas into the community and got the generator working to run the Chocolate Refiner and we made chocolate together. Everyone stuck their heads in to see the stone wheels grinding the cacao. When the chocolate was smooth enough, we filled a giant cauldron with milk, sugar and chocolate. Everyone sipped happily as we filled and refilled each other’s cup.

chocolate making

After traveling to many different countries, one thing that always remains true, communities that have very little often give the most. Not only were we fed special Miato, fish and yucca cooked in banana leaves over the fire, we were treated graciously and honored as guests. As I sat talking to one woman, a little girl started playing with my hair and a woman pressed to my lips a bowl full of chicha, yucca that is fermented and served by the community elders.

mito

We visited some of their chakras, bio-diverse family farms, to see the conditions of the plants, it is true that many of the plants had been diseased with Monilia. For the last three months they had been getting help from a cacao technician, learning more about how to care for their plants. They had been heavily focused on pruning and improving the quality of the soil around the trees. They are highly motivated to learn more and to improve the quality of production.

roasting beans over the fire

Over the fire we roasted two batches of cacao that they had grown, fermented and dried. One was CCN-51 and the other Cacao Nacional. As the beans cracked from the heat, we began to smell the familiar chocolate aroma. Around a table we winnowed the bean, removing the husk from the bean. Everyone took turns using the hand grinder to grind the cacao beans into a powdery paste.

grinding cacao

At some point during the workshop the energy shifted and I was no longer a necessary facilitator. I stood back and took photos of the community making their very first batch of chocolate. I over heard them talking about what they could add to the chocolate and who they could sell the chocolate to.

I made sure they separated the CCN-51 from the Cacao Nacional and without being prompted they tried the two side by side and proudly announced that the Cacao Nacional did not taste bitter at all and no sugar was needed. It was a magical moment, I could feel their eyes light up, the fire burning inside of them and it was infectious.

community of farmers kichwa cacao farmers

There are many factors that make cacao production harder than harvesting hardwoods, but in the long run rainforest communities as well as the rest of the world will benefit from the sustainable production of cacao. It is up to us, people from the Minority World, to prove that the efforts cacao farmers make to care for their heirloom cacao is worth it. Understanding that the cost of chocolate that is supporting cacao farmers has a higher cost than chocolate produced with unknown origins. In the case of Chuya Yaku buying cacao from this community would aid in preventing extraction of oil, deforestation and further contamination by extraction of non sustainable commodity goods.

The average production of cacao does not support the community where it originates from. Choosing companies that work directly with farmers positively impacts the farmers themselves. The reverse is also true, when you choose to buy from companies that make no efforts to support farmers you are directly impacting these communities in a negative way. By no means is it fair to assume that everyone from the Minority World can afford to consume chocolate that reflect direct trade pricing, but the hope is that everyone understands that chocolate is truly a treat, that should be nurtured and cared for throughout the whole process and should be appreciated and respected for the work that goes into growing and making it.

hopes for the future

A chocolate making workshop in Chuya Yaku is just the start, if they want to build a fermentation center, make cacao based products and have chocolate ecotourism, they will need continued guidance and support so they can really compete with multinational efforts working to keep the price of cacao down.

Article Written by Rebecca Roebber, Marketing Director for indi chocolate

Community Center Update #2

[Published: December 2016]

ARP + Sector La Libertad (km 6)

In September, after many months working on renovating and accommodating our new space to serve both as the operations base for ARP and the community center for La Libertad (you can watch the video of the process here), we took advantage of the start of the new school year and kicked off new activities and educational programs at the center.

After gathering input from our neighbors, we have opened up adult English classes. For now, we are offering two levels, beginners and intermediate during different times and days of the week. We have also reached an agreement with the Ministry of Education and with the schools with whom we collaborate to offer professors English classes. Professors at these schools have expressed strong interest in receiving English classes; by providing them with the necessary tools to teach the foreign language, we are hoping to develop a more sustainable model in serving these communities. For the youth of the community, we offer homework help in the afternoons Monday through Thursday for students through 7th grade. All this is possible thanks to our Education Coordinators Stephanie, Mariela and Meghan, as well as our Operations Coordinator María.

In the near future we would like to offer computer classes, a course highly petitioned by the adults in the community. Thanks to the donations we are receiving from our community center campaign, we hope to be able to purchase the computers that will help us kick off this course in the coming year.

On a different note, our organic community garden remains active and continues to produce beans, tomatoes, chard, lettuce, yuca, and corn. Community members take part in cultivating and maintaining the garden under the supervision of ARP Sub-Director and Eco-agriculture Program Coordinator Rodrigo Engracia. The produce cultivated is shared amongst the families who participate in the weekly mingas. Recently, we have added new produce to include the cultivation of pineapples, bananas, papaya, lemongrass, and other herbs we soon hope to have at the dinner table.

We would like to remind you that the fundraising campaign to complete the second phase of center development is ongoing. This second phase focuses on purchasing the necessary materials and equipment so that we are able to offer more educational programs and community activities. If you would like to collaborate, learn more about our new center, share our work with your network and/or donate, don’t forget to visit the Center’s GoFundMe Campaign page

Click me to see a video of the 1st phase of the Center!
Haz click para ver el vídeo de la 1ª fase del centro

Novedades  acerca del nuevo centro comunitario

ARP + Sector La Libertad (km 6)

Después de varios meses trabajando para acondicionar el espacio de la nueva sede de ARP y centro comunitario La Libertad (podéis ver el vídeo del proceso aquí), en septiembre, aprovechando el inicio del nuevo año escolar, dimos inicio también a las actividades y programas educativos en el centro.

El primer curso que hemos abierto ha sido inglés para adultos, atendiendo las peticiones de los vecinos para los que el inglés sigue siendo una asignatura pendiente.  Por el momento contamos con dos niveles, iniciación e intermedio, en distintos horarios y días de la semana. También hemos llegado a un acuerdo con el Ministerio de Educación y con las escuelas con las que colaboramos para ofrecer cursos de capacitación  en inglés a los profesores ya que han demostrado interés en este recurso y existe una necesidad importante de recibir apoyo en la materia.  Para los más jóvenes, por las tardes de lunes a jueves tenemos tareas dirigidas para estudiantes hasta 7º grado. Todo esto está siendo posible gracias a Stephanie, Mariela y Meaghan, coordinadoras de educación,  así como a  María, coordinadora de operaciones.

En un futuro cercano nos gustaría poder ofertar clases de computación, otra de las actividades altamente demandadas entre los adultos de la zona. Gracias a las donaciones que estamos recibiendo en nuestra campaña para recaudar fondos para el centro comunitario esperamos poder adquirir las computadoras que nos permitirán poner en marcha este curso el próximo año.

Por otro lado, nuestro huerto comunitario ecológico continúa en marcha y produciendo fréjoles, tomates, acelgas, lechuga, yuca y choclos. Los vecinos participan en su cultivo y mantenimiento bajo la supervisión del sub-director de ARP y coordinador del programa de Eco-Agricultura Rodrigo Engracia. La producción se reparte entre las familias que colaboran semanalmente en las mingas.  Recientemente, hemos ampliado con la siembra de piña, plátanos, papaya, hierba luisa y otras hierbitas que esperamos poder tener pronto en nuestras mesas.

Os recordamos que sigue en marcha la campaña de donación para la segunda fase de desarrollo del centro que tiene como objetivo reunir materiales y equipamiento para llevar a cabo programas educativos y actividades comunitarias.  Los que deseéis colaborar, conocer más sobre el nuevo centro, compartir con vuestros contactos y/o donar no dejéis de visitar la campaña Center’s GoFundMe page.

Evolving the Education Program 

[Published: December 2016]

Implementing our new education project in 10 de Agosto and Esfuerzo

There have been big changes to the Education Program this semester. After many years of offering English classes to students in second through seventh grades at schools along Arajuno Road where instruction was not otherwise available, the school district will now handle that subject according to the national regulation ACUERDO No. MINEDUC-ME-2016-00020-A.

Even before this change in national policy, we had already begun to widen the perspective of the Education Program beyond a strict focus on English language instruction. Our new vision was informed in part by suggestions from a previous Education Coordinator, Carmen Romero, who integrated sensorimotor activities and Spanish literacy into her service. The current Education Coordinator, Stephanie Scott, who holds a BA in Linguistics and an MST with a focus on language, reading, writing and bilingualism, then created a new curriculum to support global linguistic and communicative development. This curriculum was intended to provide a firm foundation for later successful English language acquisition. It uses methodologies from multicultural children’s literature and Project Based Learning, and also has a strong focus on strengthening identity and validating students’ cultures as an essential prerequisite for any subsequent language learning.

With a successful project under our belts from the first portion of the school year, at present we are implementing this curriculum in grades three and four at República de Argentina school and in grades three through seven at General Eplicachima school. ARP will continue to adapt to the context of each community, even more now with the national English language requirement since our volunteers are not public school teachers nor can we assume such a role. Therefore, we look to 2017 with optimism and the desire to continue providing quality support through dialogue with the educational community and renewing our commitment to serve the children on Arajuno Road.

We have begun diversifying our activities in the field of educational support through various initiatives. One being to bring therapists from Quito to run workshops on non-violent communication and cranial-sacral therapy at the República de Argentina school. The first workshop was attended by 26 parents, four teachers and three ARP coordinators. We have two more workshops planned for the 2016-2017 school-year. We hope to strengthen communal ties, increase capacity for dealing with interpersonal issues and widen our network of national support between Ecuadorians in addition to the international support which ARP has always received.

Another exciting development to finish 2016 on a high note: two ninth grade students received scholarships to travel to Quito to conduct a short internship at Nalúa Taller de Arte y Galería during the holiday break. The founders of Nalúa met the students in August when they came to conduct a week-long mural painting course organized by the Education Program at the km 6 community center. Now, both students will travel to assist in a children’s art camp, develop an independent art project with the guidance of professional artists and visit La Capilla del Hombre, the house and museum of Ecuador’s most notable painter of the twentieth century, Oswaldo Guayasamín.

Cambios en el Programa de Educación

Implementación de nuestro nuevo proyecto educativo en 10 de Agosto y Esfuerzo

Este quimestre ha habido muchos cambios en el Programa de Educación de ARP.  Después de muchos años de ofrecer clases de inglés a los estudiantes de 2º a 7º grado en las escuelas de la Ruta del Arajuno, ahora el Distrito escolar manejará la asignatura de Inglés conforme con el ACUERDO Nro. MINEDUC-ME-2016-00020-A.

Incluso antes de enterarnos de estos cambios, ARP ya empezaba a ampliar su mirada sobre el Programa de Educación más allá de un enfoque estrictamente en el idioma inglés. La nueva visión fue informada en parte por las observaciones de la anterior coordinadora, Carmen Romero quién integró prácticas de la psicopedagogía para apoyar el desarrollo de destrezas de aprendizaje y también enseñó lectura y escritura en el idioma español durante su servicio. Luego, la actual coordinadora, Stephanie Scott, Licenciada en Lingüística y Magíster en Ciencias de Educación especializada en desarrollo de lenguaje, lectura, escritura y bilingüismo, creó un currículum para apoyar el desarrollo lingüístico y comunicativo total que formaría la base para que los estudiantes a futuro aprendieran con éxito la lengua extranjera Inglés. Este nuevo currículum utiliza metodologías de la literatura multicultural y de Project Based Learning (aprendizaje a base de proyectos) como herramientas principales y su enfoque intercultural fortalece la identidad de los estudiantes como requisito fundamental para el aprendizaje.

Ahora mismo continuamos con este currículum en los grados 3 y 4 de la institución República de Argentina y los grados 3 a 7 de la institución General Eplicachima. Sin embargo, ARP deberá seguir adaptándose al contexto de cada comunidad especialmente ahora con el requerimiento nacional de idioma Inglés en todos los grados desde 2º, ya que nuestros voluntarios no son docentes del sistema nacional de educación del Ecuador, ni pueden bajo ningún pretexto asumir tal rol. Mientras tanto, miramos con optimismo hacia el 2017 con la intención de seguir brindando un apoyo de calidad, asumiendo un diálogo con las comunidades educativas y redoblando nuestro compromiso para servir a la niñez de la Ruta del Arajuno.

Con el fin de diversificar nuestras actividades de apoyo a la educación, ya hemos encaminado algunas iniciativas: una es la de traer terapeutas de Quito para dictar talleres de convivencia, comunicación no violenta y terapia cráneo-sacral en la Unidad Educativa República de Argentina. El primer taller tuvo la asistencia de 26 padres y madres de familia, cuatro docentes de la institución y tres voluntarios de ARP. Están planificados dos talleres más antes de concluir el año lectivo 2016-2017. Con esto esperamos fortalecer lazos, incrementar capacidades y ampliar redes de apoyo nacionales entre Ecuatorianos además del apoyo internacional que siempre ha recibido ARP. Otra emocionante novedad para sellar el 2016 con broche de oro es la oferta de dos becas a estudiantes de 9º grado para viajar a Quito a realizar una pasantía con Nalúa Taller de Arte y Galería durante las vacaciones de Diciembre. Los fundadores de Nalúa conocieron a las estudiantes en agosto durante el Curso de Murales organizado por el Programa de Educación de ARP en las instalaciones del Km. 6. Ahora las dos estudiantes ganadoras de la beca viajarán a apoyar actividades de un campamento de arte, desarrollar un proyecto de arte independiente bajo la guía de un artista profesional y conocer La Capilla del Hombre—la casa/museo del pintor Ecuatoriano más célebre del siglo XX: el Maestro Oswaldo Guayasamín.

Community Center Update

[Published: September 2016]

ARP + Sector La Libertad (km 6)

We can’t wait to start the second phase of the community and new ARP Center! ARP started collaborating at this former school site around 2010, where we helped with English instruction and the school garden, among other activities. We’ve had and continue to have a great relationship with the community. So when the school was unexpectedly closed (September 2014) as part of the school unifications taking place in Ecuador, a win-win situation presented itself for both the community – Sector La Libertad – and ARP. The community gains additional access to ARP’s programming and our support in maintaining the site, while ARP gains the space it has desperately needed to expand, and host, programming.

ARP has now been working for months out of the new Center. Weekly mingas (community work days) have been taking place to improve the site, as well as advance the garden area, which is now producing a harvest. The community has been working with local government to improve the soccer field and bring a local water system online (families currently depend on rainwater and wells). ARP has been working on improving the basic living and work areas. We are very grateful that thanks to your donations, we have made progress on vital infrastructure; brought Internet service to the Center; and made the primary living area more welcoming, bringing us ever closer to an official inauguration of the Center!

Support the second phase of the Center! Now that basic infrastructure is in place, materials and equipment are needed to realize the Center’s potential through ARP programs and community activities. To learn more, share within your networks and/or donate, visit the Center’s GoFundMe page.

 


Novedades  a cerca del nuevo centro comunitario

ARP + Sector La Libertad (km 6)

Estamos deseando terminar la primera fase de rehabilitación de lo que será el centro comunitario y nueva sede de ARP. ARP comenzó su colaboración con la antigua escuela del Km 6 en 2010, ayudando en la enseñanza del inglés y en el desarrollo del huerto, entre otras actividades. Siempre hemos mantenido una estupenda relación con esta comunidad (sector La Libertad), por lo que cuando inesperadamente el gobierno decidió clausurar su escuela en 2014 como parte de un proceso de unificación de escuelas que se está llevando a cabo en Ecuador, nuevas posibilidades se abrieron tanto para la comunidad como para ARP respecto al edificio de la antigua escuela que quedaba ahora en desuso. Por un lado, para ARP suponía la posibilidad de conseguir el espacio que durante tanto tiempo había anhelado para su expansión y el desarrollo de sus programas y por otro lado, la comunidad ganaba acceso directo a los programas de ARP, con el beneficio añadido de que el mantenimiento de las instalaciones correría a cargo de la propia ARP.
Llevamos ya meses trabajando en el nuevo centro, acondicionando las zonas de vivienda y oficina. Las mingas semanales (encuentros de trabajo vecinal) se han venido realizando para mejorar las instalaciones así como expandir el huerto que ya está produciendo cosecha. La comunidad está trabajando junto al gobierno local para la mejora de la cancha de fútbol y la instalación de un sistema de agua (actualmente las familias se abastecen mediante pozos y agua de lluvia). Estamos verdaderamente agradecidos por vuestras donaciones, las cuales nos han permitido mejorar las infraestructuras, traer internet al centro y hacer del área principal de residencia un espacio agradable para vivir. Con la ejecución de estas acciones hemos dado por concluida la primera fase de rehabilitación del centro y estamos ya muy cerca de poder llevar a cabo la inauguración oficial. Pedimos vuestro apoyo para la segunda fase que tiene como objetivo reunir materiales y equipamiento para desarrollar todo el potencial del centro a través de programas educativos y actividades comunitarias. Para saber más sobre el nuevo centro, compartir con vuestros contactos y/o donar no dejéis de visitar la campaña Center’s GoFundMe page.

1,642 Hectares Designated for Conservation

[Published: September 2016]

Chuya Yaku Community mapping & zoning

In case you missed this exciting piece of news, we have made solid progress on conservation in the Amazon! This project started to become a reality in 2014, and was actively carried out in 2015 in partnership with the community of Chuya Yaku. It was a wonderful journey that engaged and supported the entire community in analyzing their natural resources and planning for the future.  

The map  has provided Chuya Yaku with an invaluable tool. The process for zoning conservation, food production and housing areas has enabled open dialogues between all members of the community about their present and future. The community map itself provides a good deal of useful information previously undocumented, and an instrument that will be used as part of the community’s proposals to local government, leveraging more resources for the community. Data has been passed on to community leaders, two large maps have been installed in the community and smaller versions of the maps have been given to families for their use.

Many thanks to our incredible mapping team (Alicea, Leah and Niels!), support from WorldConnect and many others who helped make this project possible. While we hope the Ecuadorian economy will recover enough to reinstate conservation incentives to benefit the community further, this is a huge first step toward the community’s vision of the future, and we remain committed to continuing our collaboration. We also hope to replicate this pilot project in neighbouring communities.

Want to learn more about the Chuya Yaku community and the history that led to this project? Watch the video.

Designación de 1.642 hectáreas para áreas de conservación

Zonificación y elaboración de un mapa de la comunidad Chuya Yaku

Para aquellos que no estéis al tanto, queremos informaros de los sólidos progresos que hemos llevado a cabo en el área de Conservación de la amazonia ecuatoriana. Este proyecto de zonificación y posterior elaboración de un mapa comenzó a materializarse en 2014 y continuó desarrollándose de forma activa en 2015 en colaboración con la comunidad indígena de Chuya Yaku. Ha sido un viaje increíble en el que la comunidad entera se ha involucrado participando en el análisis tanto de sus propios recursos naturales como en la previsión futura de los mismos.

La elaboración de este mapa ha supuesto para Chuya Yaku una herramienta fundamental. El proceso de zonificación para conservación de áreas, para producción agro-alimentaria y para zonas edificables ha permitido entablar un diálogo entre todos los miembros de esta comunidad kichwa a cerca tanto de su pasado como de su futuro. El mapa de la comunidad es por si mismo una valiosa fuente de información que proporciona datos no documentados anteriormente, a la vez que un instrumento fundamental que podrá ser utilizado a partir de ahora como herramienta de apoyo en propuestas al gobierno local. Los datos obtenidos han sido entregados a los líderes comunitarios y además, se han instalado dos mapas grandes en la propia comunidad, facilitando copias a las familias en versión reducida para su uso.

Nuestro agradecimiento al equipo de cartógrafos por el excelente trabajo llevado a cabo (Alicea, Leah y Niels), a WorldConnect por la ayuda prestada y a todos los que han hecho posible este proyecto. Mientras esperamos que la economía ecuatoriana se recupere lo suficiente para restablecer iniciativas de conservación que continúen beneficiando a las comunidades, este mapa es un gran paso hacia el futuro del pueblo Chuya Yaku, con el cual seguiremos manteniendo nuestra colaboración. Esperamos poder repetir esta experiencia en otras comunidades vecinas.

¿ Quieres saber más sobre la comunidad Chuya Yaku y cómo se originó este proyecto? Mira este vídeo.

Improved Water Security

[Published: 2016]

The Challenge

Notwithstanding the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goal number 6 – ensure access to water and sanitation for all – the widespread lack of access to clean drinking water in rural Amazonia still has a powerfully detrimental influence on public health. Forced to drink dirty water on a daily basis or use precious financial resources to buy bottles, water-borne illness is common; close relationships between community members and ARP representatives revealed that water sanitation issues were a longstanding concern for the majority of our partner communities.

What We Did

In April 2015 the Project launched a new program pilot to help bring sustainable clean water solutions to rural communities. It started with formally registering a need for clean water in the communities and schools where we work, through the development and implementation of a Water Sanitation Assessment. Then, following research into the most appropriate filtration methods and a volunteer-led fundraiser, we were able to install clean water solutions in two schools and are investigating solutions for clean water in another community. An integral part of the ongoing success of this project – in terms of visibly better health and money saved – is the education of the schools’ students and staff regarding health and clean water.

Educating the Diez de Agosto teachers about water sanitation

Educating the Diez de Agosto teachers about water sanitation

A water cleanliness demonstration

A water cleanliness demonstration

The water filtration system at the Diez de Agosto school

The water filtration system at the Diez de Agosto school