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Jun 11, 2013

Gains, losses and opportunities in the Ampiyacu

Bora artisan and baby with Amazon hot pad
Bora artisan and baby with Amazon hot pad

I’d like to share some news about our handicraft and forest conservation project in the northern Peruvian Amazon on three fronts – some things that have gone well in the past three months, a few things that have been challenges, and a few things we are excited about beginning.

* Our Amazon hot pads (trivets) have been a big hit in the past two months.  We provided nine to CACE and Camino Verde donors in the GlobalGiving Gifts for Good promotion in May and have sold 125 directly to GlobalGiving to give to guests at the upcoming gathering of the Leadership Council in New York City. 

* We have finished and posted a new video about the handicraft aspect of our project called “Native artisans of the Ampiyacu.”  Check it out on our project page at: http://www.AmazonAlive.net.  It presents a visual kaleidoscope of our partners from five villages, the products we have helped them create, the plants they used to make them, and the benefits they have received selling them.

* Our project manager Yully reported that the young rosewood trees we planted in fields at the native community of Brillo Nuevo in early February with our partner Camino Verde are growing well.  Four of the five Bora families have been taking good care of the seedlings – the fifth is due to receive some encouragement from the community to keep their commitment.

 *We have identified a 20 gallon stainless steel distiller we want to buy from Heart Magic to increase the yield and decrease the time needed to extract the fragrant essential oil from rosewood and other aromatic leaves and small branches at Brillo Nuevo and other partners.

The past few months have also reminded us of some of the sobering challenges and realities of working in this remote part of the world.

* Yully’s trips to the Ampiyacu were delayed once by her motor canoe breaking down for the night until the driver paddled to another town to get a spare part for the engine.  The next month, her ferry from Iquitos to the villages was boarded by customs agents who seized over 10 kg of cocaine that seven people were trying to smuggle over the border into Brazil.

* Brillo Nuevo used part of its CACE Handicraft Social Rebate to pay travel expenses and some medicines to treat two people wounded in a hunting accident.

*Carlina Davila - one of our artisan partners from Puca Urquillo Huitoto died in March from cervical cancer.   Her passing brought to our attention that six other women from our partner communities have died from this affliction in the past few years.  Fortunately girls are now receiving the vaccination against HPV.

Coming up..... 

Several other governmental and non-governmental groups are working to support local development and conservation with native communities in the Ampiyacu region.  The Field Museum of Chicago recently approached us to work with them to improve management of the chambira palm trees, support craft marketing, and fortify the use of traditional knowledge in the villages.

Campbell and two Amazon field volunteers have just arrived in Iquitos to begin a six week field season working with our partners in the Ampiyacu and other sites in northern Peru.  You can follow the progress of their journey on Campbell’s Amazon Journal at: http://tinyurl.com/CACEblog

If you'd like to support our efforts, donations made to this project on GlobalGiving on the next Bonus Day, Wednesday, June 12 may receive a 30% matching donation from GlobalGiving.  Visit www.AmazonAlive.net.

Bora artisan with Amazon hot pad
Bora artisan with Amazon hot pad
Huitoto artisan from Puca Urquillo with hot pad
Huitoto artisan from Puca Urquillo with hot pad
Huitoto artisan Carlina Davila with handmade dolls
Huitoto artisan Carlina Davila with handmade dolls
Bora boy tending rosewood seedling at Brillo Nuevo
Bora boy tending rosewood seedling at Brillo Nuevo
Bora artisan cutting chambira with pruning saw
Bora artisan cutting chambira with pruning saw

Links:

Mar 11, 2013

New rosewood trees & pharmacy for Brillo Nuevo

CACE, Camino Verde & Bora rosewood planting group
CACE, Camino Verde & Bora rosewood planting group

February 24, 2013

Dear CACE Ampiyacu Project supporter,

It is my pleasure to share our first report via GlobalGiving on the progress of our project to create sustainable livelihoods and promote forest conservation with native communities in the Ampiyacu River region of the Peruvian Amazon.

One very welcome development is the completion of a community pharmacy in the Bora village of Brillo Nuevo. Project manager Yully Rojas was on hand when the simple wooden structure built with funds from CACE sales of crafts from the village's two dozen artisans was being painted. The next step will be to stock it with its first batch of medicines and recruit a health-care worker to staff it.

Artisan Ines Chichaco summed up her feelings about this milestone, "I started weaving bags and hammocks when I was twelve years old, but since CACE started working in Brillo Nuevo five years ago, I've learned to weave new crafts like belts, hotpads, and guitar straps. Even more important, working with them has made me improve the quality of my work and sell more crafts. This money has helped me to better educate my children and buy rice, soap, sugar, kerosene and other things I need in my house. The project has now helped us build a community pharmacy so a member of my family or anyone from the village can get medicine right away if they get really sick."

The other exciting development in Brillo Nuevo on February 8 was the arrival of 900 rosewood tree seedlings after a two day journey by truck, large ferry, and speedboat from a government nursery in Jenaro Herrera on the Ucayali River. The five families who had won a share of the first batch of aromatic trees in a village lottery carted the seedlings packed in planting bags in dugout canoes and baskets on their backs to their respective fields prepared for this special kind of reforestation. Our partner Robin van Loon from the NGO Camino Verde that co-sponsored this project showed them how to plant and care for the slender seedlings. Yully Rojas also lent a hand so she can help the families keep an eye on the young plants. If all goes well, they will grow into trees large enough to sustain a modest harvest of leaves in three to four years. We will then work with the plot owners to distill these leaves into marketable fragrant essential oil. Our next step will be upgrading our distillation equipment to get the best yield and quality and make contacts with potential buyers.

The final note is that CACE sales of crafts made by the 100 plus artisans in our Ampiyacu partner communities almost doubled from 2011 to 2012. Christmas tree ornaments made by Bora men and Huitoto women from the village of Puca Urquillo were very popular this season. Most of these ornaments that doubled as hand-rattles were dark-brown egg-shaped pods of calabash trees etched with figures of Amazon toucans, jaguars and other jungle animals. An alliance with Tait Trees, a family-owned cut your own Christmas tree business in Boalsburg, PA, allowed us to display our ornaments in their gift shop and keep all of the sales. We will soon meet with the Puca Urquillo community to discuss how they wish to use their 20% share of sales from almost 300 ornaments. As craft sales increase with all of our partners, we want to expand our surveys of chambira trees and support greater planting of these palms that provide the fiber used in almost all woven crafts.

If you would like to support our project again, one great day to do this will be Wednesday March 15 when GlobalGiving will provide a 30% match to donations (up to $1,000 per donor) made on-line beginning at 9 AM until available matching funds are spent.

Thank you very much for your interest and support for our project. Please feel free to contact me with any questions, comments or ideas at cplowden@amazonecology.org.

Best wishes,

Campbell Plowden

CACE Executive Director and Project Leader

Bora man with rosewood seedlings in a basket
Bora man with rosewood seedlings in a basket
Bora woman watering rosewood tree seedling
Bora woman watering rosewood tree seedling
Carrying rosewood seedlings to forest in canoe
Carrying rosewood seedlings to forest in canoe
Bora artisan with woven guitar strap and children
Bora artisan with woven guitar strap and children
Painting community pharmacy in Brillo Nuevo
Painting community pharmacy in Brillo Nuevo
Bora artisan with etched calabash pod ornaments
Bora artisan with etched calabash pod ornaments

Links:

 
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