Saturday, October 22, 2016

Possible new long-term volunteer guest house and office

Need for Space

As we are having more volunteers over peak times (Christmas and summer vacation) we need more space.  It is also nice to have a room for our volunteers who stay for multiple weeks or months.  This room can include an office with a WiFi signal amplifier which will connect to the school's Internet.  We should be able to build this two story guest house and office for less than $1,000.

Here is one possible design:

1st floor

2nd floor

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Accounting at Amazon Pueblo! -It's accrual world out there.

Our New Accountants

The project now has professional accounting services!  We are working with Ballou & Associates based in Camden, Maine.  They are helping us to migrate our accounts to QuickBooks Premier, the nonprofit edition.

The director of Amazon Pueblo first met Tammy Ballou in the late 1990's when he was the interim director of the Teen Center in Camden, Maine, and she was our accountant.  The next time he spoke with her was when she taught him an introductory QuickBooks class in 2011, 

Welcome to the accounting department, where everybody counts.

The office of Ballou and Associates

Why are accountants always so calm, composed, and methodical?
They have strong internal controls.

Lori and our director hard at work

We have many challenges to our record keeping and accounting with the project.  We operate in two countries, so we must be aware of the exchange rate differences.  We must also find inexpensive ways to transfer money and to make purchases while maintaining good financial controls.  Additionally, time is a factor.  We have no full-time bookkeeper, so the system we use must be easy to operate and understand, while maintaining accuracy.

An accountant is someone who solves a problem you didn't know you had
in a way you don’t understand.

Our Accounting Programs

Our old program

We are now switching from our old accounting program, GNU Cash, to QuickBooks.  GNU Cash is a free, open-source accounting program.  We recommend it for anyone who needs a good, basic accounting program.

We switched to QuickBooks because we needed a program that could more easily handle inventory, donor tracking, grant tracking, and that can generate more customized nonprofit reports.  While our version of QuickBooks normally costs $350, we received the program at a $300 discount for nonprofit organizations through a grant program at Techsoup.

Our new program

Audit of our books

What do you call an accountant with an opinion? An auditor.

As we go forward with the project, larger grant funding agencies may require that we conduct an audit before they will give us a grant.  This audit will be much easier when we are using QuickBooks and working with an accountant.

Accounting tips:

How does Santa's accountant value his sleigh? Net Present Value

Did you know the IRS now offers a tax credit on the purchase of marijuana? You just have to file a joint return.

Questions or comments about our accounting practices are always welcome.  We are open books!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Where is our main office? In Maine? Bogota? In the Amazon jungle? Take a guess...

Where is our main office located?  It is currently "located" in Maine, but it is actually located in the cloud!  All of our documents and the information needed to run our nonprofit organization may be accessed on a computer anywhere in the world where there is a reliable Internet connection.  We are agile and lean.  Now you know!

The current "location" of Amazon Pueblo in Rockland, Maine

The main workstation and two of our laptops.  They are ready for work!

Another view of the office

Our office when in Leticia, Colombia

Our jungle office
In cyberspace

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Piranha Party Fundraiser Success!

We raised a little under $4,900 during our fundraiser and from donations during the past week!  We would like to give a warm thank you to all of our supporters.

Sarah J playing at our Piranha Party Fundraiser, at Trackside Station Restaurant in Rockland, Maine

This brings us to a little under $9,000 to fund next year's activities.  The chief things on the horizon are:

  • maintenance and improvements to the village dock and stairs
  • the creation of a small yuca processing plant (our first major business venture with the Association of Fishers, Farmers, and Artisans of La Libertad)
  • maintaining and upgrading our volunteer guesthouse (with the possibility of having solar-powered 24-hour food refrigeration)
  • building a second community garden
  • giving scholarships for up to eight village children to attend elementary school for a year

Our new emerald displays

The lobster trap rocking chair

With the raising of additional funds during the remainder of 2016 (our Giving Tuesday campaign will follow Black Friday and Cyber Monday) we may be able to start a small nursery for cacao clones.  This will be the first major step towards chocolate production in the village!

Will we raise the funds to start a nursery in 2017?

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

52 years later ... a ceasefire. Art workshop on peace with the children of La Libertad, Colombia.

This post was originally published by Julio Baron, a volunteer with the project in July, 2016.  It was translated from its original language, Spanish.  The original post my be found here.  Thanks Julio!

After more than 200,000 people dead and more than 5 million displaced, in an internal war that destroyed many homes and left many orphaned, the national government of Colombia achieved a ceasefire and negotiated demobilization with the FARC, the world's oldest rebel group. FARC's later objectives were far from a struggle for the rights and freedoms of the population for which it stood during its beginnings in the 60s.  Extortion, kidnapping, murder, disappearances, displaced persons, as well as the business of illegal mining and the drug trade were all in their repertoire of death.

Part of a reflection on these issue is to involve the village children to develop the ability to resolve conflicts peacefully, to care for who they are, for their environment and for that which defines them as Colombians.  To help to do this I read a book about peace to the children of La Libertad.

Through reading the "Book of Peace" by Todd Parr, the children and I came to a definition of peace that did not necessarily relate to not using a weapon. We simply realized that making peace is something that has to do with simple, everyday actions:

Peace is helping neighbors, peace is apologize when we offend someone, peace is caring for the environment ...

Peace is to help our neighbor

Peace is keeping the water clean for all the fish

Peace is planting a tree

Peace is asking for "forgiveness" when you hurt someone

Thus, through reading and imagination, children drew pictures on the theme of peace.  This was a contribution to reflection and above all, helped to instill in them the idea of ​​resolving differences and problems through means not having to resort to arms, offenses, or hatred. The La Libertad children's drawings are a testament to their views and how they see the country they want and a need to live in peace as part of the ideas of ​​progress and freedom.

Two children shaking hands in friendship and peace

My village in the Colombian Amazon

Reading the book of peace.

"Peace is painting, peace is fishing."

52 años después...cese al fuego. Taller de arte sobre la PAZ con los niños de La Libertad.

Después de más de 200.000 muertos y más de 5 millones de desplazados, en una guerra interna que destruyó muchos hogares y dejó huérfanas a muchas familias, el gobierno nacional de Colombia logra el cese al fuego y desmovilización negociada con el grupo insurgente FARC, el más antiguo del mundo. Ya sus objetivos estaban lejos de una lucha a favor de los derechos y libertades de la  población como en sus inicios se plantearon, en los años 60. Extorsiones, secuestros, asesinatos, desapariciones, desplazados y también el negocio de la droga y la minería ilegal estuvieron dentro de su repertorio de muerte.

Como parte de una reflexión en torno a este tema y parta inculcar en los niños la posibilidad de resolver los conflictos de forma pacífica, de cuidar lo que somos, nuestro entorno y lo que nos define como colombianos, estuve con los niños de La Libertad leyendo y un libro sobre la paz.

A través de la lectura del "libro de la Paz" de Todd Parr, los niños y yo fuimos llegando a una definición de paz que no tenia necesariamente que ver con no usar un arma.  Simplemente comprendimos que hacer la paz es algo que tiene que ver con acciones sencillas y cotidianas:
Paz es ayudar a los vecinos, paz es pedir perdón cuando ofendemos a alguien, paz es cuidar el ambiente...

De esta forma, a través de la lectura y la imaginación, los niños realizaron dibujos en torno al tema de la paz, como una contribución a la reflexión y sobre todo, para inculcar en ellos la idea de resolver las diferencias y problemas a través de medios que no tengan que acudir a las armas, a la ofensa ni al odio. Los dibujos de los niños de la Libertad son un testimonio de sus opiniones y de cómo ven ellos un país que quiere y necesita vivir en paz como parte de la idea de progreso y libertad. 

Dos niños dándose la mano en señal de amistad y paz

Mi vereda, en el Amazonas, Colombia

Leyendo el Libro de la Paz

"La paz es pintar, la paz es pescar"

Monday, September 12, 2016

Art for the Amazon: Painting and photographs

We will be having beautiful art for silent auction at our Piranha Party fundraiser this Saturday at Trackside Station Restaurant in Rockland, Maine, USA.  Thank you Julio and Joe!

Thank you very much to Julio César Barón, a professional photographer from Bogota, Colombia (and a volunteer with the project) for six photos that he donated for the fundraiser.  We have printed and framed the images.  The dimensions are 18" by 12".

This is a link to his website:

We would also like to thank Joe Rizzo for his donation of a matted print of his painting Ravens.  This is the second year that Joe has supported us at the fundraiser.  He most recently exhibited his work at the Gray Fox Gallery in Rockland, Maine.

This is a link to find more information about his work: