Charity Focus: Amazon Partnerships Foundation
Here's how it works: The Kichwa community will propose a sustainable project idea to Amazon Partnerships Foundation, who will then provide small grants to start up the project and intensive training in project management so that the community can learn to sustain their results over the long term. An example of one of these projects is the organic cacao project. In the community of Canambo, 36 people are learning how to grow organic cacao, which will increase crop yield and provide more household income. Because organic Ecuadorian cacao is typically grown on small farms with a variety of other plants, the project protects biodiversity too.
Projects can range from agro-forestry to production of traditional handicrafts to environmental education to ecological sanitation, among others.
A few of their current projects include:
-36 rainwater catchment systems installed and 160 native hardwood and fruit trees planted
-Organic cacao cultivation workshops and construction of 3 greenhouses
-Regular workshops in three communities to teach them how to implement their projects
Posing next to a rainwater catchment system that has recently been installed in Campana Cocha. Photo courtesy of David Barnes.
These projects are highly successful because the Kichwa people, the largest indigenous group in the Ecuadorian Amazon, come from a culture that values its environment. But because of the large scale environmental destruction from oil extraction, clear cutting, and mining, the Kichwa have been forced to abandon traditional, sustainable ways of living off the land. Over the years they have faced intense discrimination and have become dependent on outside assistance to survive. Many have lost sight of the enormous contribution their culture made to the survival of the rainforest. But things are finally beginning to change.
Kichwa communities want to find new ways, rooted in their traditional values, to protect their environment and celebrate their culture. The communities who partner with the organization take ownership of their projects and responsibility for the results. They submit funding proposals, design and implement project plans, and measure their own data. Amazon Partnerships Foundation coaches them in the process, but from start to finish, the projects belong to the people.
The vision of the Amazon Partnerships Foundation is to empower these communities to protect the environment, revive their culture, and create a new model for conscious, sustainable living that draws from the best of traditional and modern practices. You can learn more about the history of the foundation and the projects on their website: www.amazonpartnerships.org
Check their website for odering info.
All photos courtesy of Amazon Partnerships Foundation