Amazon Pueblo Fall 2021 Newsletter
While slowed during 2021 because of the pandemic, our mission to support the education of indigenous students in the Amazon goes forward!
In this update we briefly review was has happened since the summer and touch on our plans for the future.
|Our director taking notes in the village of La Libertad|
Education for the Amazon
When our program director arrived in the village of La Libertad in July he was told that the village students from grades seven to twelve were not going to a regional school in Macedonia, were not being visited by teachers, and had not received any study guides for the past six months.
The students and parents were told that there was no gasoline available to visit La Libertad or to provide any services. However, the director of the Macedonian school and the teachers were passing the village bi-weekly while they were traveling to the city of Leticia. They also were continuing to receive their salary.
The director of Amazon Pueblo investigated this problem, spoke with the Secretary of Education in Leticia, who stated that gasoline had been provided during the time our students had no educational services. With the help of Amazon Pueblo, the community of La Libertad submitted a formal inquiry with the Education Secretary. Two weeks after this the educational services were restarted in Macedonia. A formal investigation is now underway into what happened to the gasoline and why the students were not receiving services.
While we are thankful that things have improved, it is of utmost importance that the villagers understand their rights, how to fight corruption and to avoid being taken advantage of. With proper education, the students will gain this knowledge.
|School shopping in Leticia|
The student program had a difficult time this year, due to the pandemic. While the younger students had in-person school in La Libertad, it was only for three days per week. Due to corruption problems, the older students had no educational services.
Additionally, it was very difficult to find all of the students who were in the program during the previous year. Eight students from 2020 did not continue to receive scholarships. They were replaced with eight new students.
Four of our older students left the program, not wanting to continue studying in 2022. They, and many others, left to work in the coca cultivation fields in Peru. We believe the lack of school (and their need to have money for their families due to the collapse of tourism) directly contributed to their decision to leave La Libertad.
In all, we gave out 35 scholarships for 2021. This was the most we have ever provided. It is hoped that all students will be back in school full-time after the new year.
|The village chief and secretary planning in Leticia|
Overall, through the health center we will achieve the following five things:
- Provide a place for the students and their families to receive basic health care.
- Provide a place for medication to be stored.
- Provide training to specific members of the community to treat illness and injury.
- Provide a secure place for health and community records to be stored.
- Provide an office and dormitory for visiting health care providers.
Logistics and Support
Without constant vigilance, the harsh climatic conditions of the jungle quickly damage our structures and materials.
During the past fall, we repaired and maintained our buildings in La Libertad, including:
- Repairing the stairs to the second story building
- Repairing the rotted wall and installing waterproofing by our main water tank
- Updating parts of the electrical system
- Fixing leaking roofs
|The repairs by our 2000 liter tank|
One of the most time-consuming tasks of our work was installing a 530-watt solar panel and wiring the kitchen. It works, but a safe system to switch between village power (available for six hours per day) and our solar system must be installed. Additionally, three more buildings need to be wired during the winter. We are installing an electrical grounding system and electrical conduits, which make the job a bit more complicated, but very secure. Our hope is to one day be completely reliant on solar energy for all of our electrical needs, including refrigeration!
|Solar panel equipment|
At last, we have a small, six-meter aluminum boat exclusively for the project’s use. This is lighter, uses less gasoline, is faster, and more stable in the water than our old wooden boat. It also does not need to be replaced every three years due to rot.
|The first time our boat sees water|
Our motor is over three years old and was bought used. However, it is still running well. We maintain it regularly, change the transmission fluid, and have installed an additional inline fuel filter to help us use the frequently contaminated gasoline found in Leticia. With continued care, we hope it will last for at least the next year.
|Motor repairs in Leticia|
Cell phone signal amplifier
The community of La Libertad has been without reliable cell phone coverage for the past two years. Before that, we had had a cell phone signal amplifier, but that was struck by lightning during a particularly intense thunderstorm. After many shipping problems, we expect to receive a new amplifier in December. Our new installation will include a heavy-duty lightning rod. When we can connect easily with the outside world, the opportunities for business, safety, and health should be increased.
|Cell phone signal amplifier|
We attended the first craft fair since the pandemic started. It was moderately well-attended. In all, we made about $550 in profit. The majority of our sales were from emerald jewelry, but we did sell some handcrafts from the village.
|Holiday Craft Fair at the Augusta Civic Center|
Emeralds for the Amazon
We are expanding our emerald jewelry offerings to high-quality emerald and gold. The pictures do not show the beauty, brilliance, and remarkable color of these gems. The ring was appraised by Chamber’s Jewelers in Thomaston, Maine at $8,550. The earrings were appraised at $2,750. Below each image are links to our YouTube page which shows 360-degree videos of the jewelry. All profits from our jewelry sales go towards the project.
On giving Tuesday (November 30) we started our fundraising efforts for next year.
Sponsor a Student
To continue or to start sponsoring the education of a student please visit our Facebook fundraising page or our Chuffed donation portal. A donation of $120 will support one student for a year. Donations of less than $120 will help to support the logistics of the scholarship program.
|Scholarship students on their way to school|
Build a Health Care Center
By far, our most challenging effort is in building a much-needed health care center to support our students and their families in the village. In the image below, the boy is suffering from skin and intestinal parasites. At night the pain is particularly bad. He frequently woke up crying. One week after treatment with $1 of ivermectin drops he had remarkable improvement. He had been suffering for months. At the time the picture was taken he was 13 months old. He weighed 12 pounds.
To help us build the health center please visit our Facebookfundraising page or our Chuffed donation portal. We want to build the foundation, walls, and roof this winter. Little by little, we hope to continue improving the center until it can meet the basic health care needs of all the students and their families.
Thank you for reading about our project. Happy Holidays!