Friday, March 11, 2016

Not the Stairway to Heaven, but to La Libertad!

At last we are nearing the completion of our second phase of the village raft and stairs!  For what may seem like a small project, it has taken a lot of planning, talk, money, blood, sweat, and tears to get us to this point.

Stephan trying his hand at making farina.

Thank you very much to our Swiss volunteer Stephan (who was with us during the first phase as well).  He planned, coordinated, and carried out much of the work on the stairs -with the help of some dedicated villagers.

This was one of the trunks that was used to build the raft.

Thank you also to Alirio the chief (who kept the village on-track), and to Manual and Oskar for cutting the wood and constructing the raft, along with many other villagers.

The early days of the raft's construction.

Our gratitude goes out to Gustavo and all the others who helped with transportation.  At times they spent over 10 hours in the river during a two-day period.  And we cannot forget Simona for her help with the trunk, painting, and raft!
Transporting the raft trunk down the Amazon River.

We also want to thank Sully and Roxanna, who helped us to receive the grant for the governor's office in Leticia and to coordinate things from the government's side.

Roxanna, Sully, Ben, and Liliana

And now on to the most recent pictures of the raft and stairs!

The first day of work on the stairway.

A post hole digger is a very well-used tool in the Amazon.

Different layers of earth.  The gray clay may be used to make pottery.  This is very solid earth.

The forms.  This was the first time Stephan had ever made concrete steps.  He did very well!

The cement and gravel was brought up in boats from Leticia.  The sand was from the river.

Hanover and Stephanie trying out the new steps.

Here they are, done at last!  The river level may rise by five steps/day during the rainy season.

This photo shows the raft connect to the stairs by a plank.
As the river level changes, the plank is moved up or down the stairway.

Just over the course of two hours the plank needs to be raised.

The future location of the village store.

And why is the raft and stairway so important?  Almost everyone who comes into the main part of the village uses the raft to help them to get off of the boat.  They then climb the stairs.  Without the stairs the climb up the side of the river bank was dangerously slippery if there was even the least bit of rain.  Pregnant women, the injured, the old and very young had the most difficulty.

People often wait on the raft for river transport.  While this may not seem very important, during rain this allows people to keep warm and dry.  Before the raft, one of the may complaints (justifiably) of the school children was that they had to wait in the rain for the school boat.  The boat picks the students up at 4:30 in the morning.  Daylight comes at 5 am.

The village partly relies on tourism for their income.  The easier it is for tourist to arrive, the more frequently they will visit La Libertad.

As La Libertad has more business growth (thanks in part to Amazon Pueblo) they need to have a safe way to transport goods.  The raft makes business transport happen more easily.  Within the next year the village hopes to establish a small store on the raft.  This will allow people traveling on the river to buy goods, as well as the villagers.  Having the store is one more source of income.

We didn't have enough material to go any further up the riverbank with cement.
Maybe a project for next year??!

I would also like to give a big thanks to our board of directors.  Without their help and hard work we would not have the funds we need to continue to support the operations that serve the people of La Libertad.  Mil Gracias!

Please stay tuned for our next post.  It will be about the 24 year anniversary of the village.  They expect hundreds to visit La Libertad for this multi-day celebration.  It is happening this Saturday, March 12.  Can everyone say CHICHA!!!

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