CONAPAC Amazon Library Gets On the Ground Assistance November 2015
We were delighted to again welcome retired librarian, Jane Claud, to the CONAPAC Amazon Library. Jane stayed with us a couple of years ago. She was a phenomenal asset and helped us organize the library in a much more effective and efficient way. Jane was with us for 3 weeks this past month, staying at Explorama Lodges. Her work is much appreciated.
Nuevo San Juan's New Facilities Completed October 2015
Wow! For those 2015 Adopt-A-School volunteers who helped with the classroom/kitchen project at Nuevo San Juan, the finishing touches have just been completed. What a difference six months can make. Let's pray high water season isn't too bad in 2016.
University of Colorado Water Auditing Team Is Here August 2015
This year’s team of graduate students has arrived to dig deeper into CONAPAC clean water programs. The partnership with UC-Boulder began in 2009 and has continued each year with an evolving focus and setting of goals. This year’s team is investigating our actual monitoring program—what we currently do and what we should consider doing in the future—more in depth. The team of four students is facilitating small focus groups in 17 of CONAPAC’s partner communities, looking for ideas and ways to further involve community members in efforts to provide safe water. In addition, they are testing water at five different points in each system for E. coli bacteria contamination.
Workshops Are in Full Swing June 2015
CONAPAC hosted its first of four 2015 regional teacher/community leader workshops in the village of Sucusari. Annually these workshops bring updated information to educators and community leaders by reviewing their roles and responsibilities to the students and their communities at large. Daytime and evening sessions offer a range of opportunities for teachers, community leaders and CONAPAC staff members to share ideas and experiences. Three more workshops are on the CONAPAC calendar this year so that every teacher in every village and all communities leaders have access to this important information.
Another Rotary International Scholar May 2015
Jhon Christian from the small rainforest village of Sapo Playa has been selected to participate in a Rotary International Exchange in Canada for the 2015-2016 school year. Jhon is a recent high school graduate, top in his class. He and his family are subsistence farmers and fishermen. He has spent a lot of time volunteering at the CONAPAC Amazon Library, helping children learn to read. Our campaign to help Jhon realize his dream of studying abroad can be found at www.gofundme.com/amazonstudyabroad.
Adopt-A-School Weeks April 2015
Despite very high water this year, the 2015 Adopt-A-School deliveries and community service project went off without a hitch. With 19 volunteers for Week #1 and nine for Week #2--plus numerous CONAPAC, Detroit Zoo, and Explorama support personnel--our teams were able to deliver to 53 communities, representing 103 schools (53 primary, 38 Kindergarten, and 12 high school). Many communities were required to come to our central delivery site off the Amazon Queen riverboat, but everyone had the spirit of goodwill and cooperation in this extra effort. All the schools received classroom supplies and almost 3,000 students and teachers received personal packets of books and school supplies.
Week #2 volunteers worked with community members in Nuevo San Juan del Amazonas. Earlier this year during dry season, concrete platforms were built. These platforms are the bases for a new community kitchen, school, bathrooms, and a rainwater catchment system. Due to the flooding, the water was right up to the front door and even entered the floorboards during our workdays. The team made a significant amount of progress on these improvements and finishing up will take place in the next few weeks. Special thanks to Adopt-a-Village International, one of our CONAPAC partners, a US non-profit in Colorado Springs, CO. This group funded the project and board member Karen Yuan and her husband Brad joined us for the building project. Members of the Brighton, Michigan Rotary Club and volunteers from around the country were part of the work team in Nuevo San Juan.
Sandy Springs School Visit March 2015
This month we've had several groups visit the library. Students and teachers from Sandy Spring School in Maryland were wonderful, full of many questions and looking for ways to support us. One of students hosted a bake sale this past school year and raised enough money to adopt a school for 2015. Another showed interest in helping set up a post-high school scholarship fund, another an interest in helping with our idea of a "book boat" for surrounding river communities, and there was interest in helping with our Yagua preservation project. WOW!!
Andrea Update February 2015
Our Rotary exchange student, Andrea Asipali, gave a pictural and verbal presentation on her home in the Amazon. She also presented the Peru Rotary flag to Julie Dykman, Fremont Rotary President.
She has this to say, “Six months ago I started this adventure, being a Rotary exchange student
in the USA. These six months have been the best of my life. Thanks to all the people who help and love me, thanks Rotary Intercambio Peru.”
Andrea participated in a regional Rotary conference in Blind River, Canada where she met Rotary Exchange Students from around the world. She has been enjoying the winter. The snow hasn’t been able to stop her from playing volleyball or trying her hand at the icy sport of curling. We are currently seeking more funds for Andrea so that she may participate in a Rotary bus trip to explore the Western United States in June. Please help us reach our goal of $1500 so that she can take advantage of this once in a lifetime experience!
Evaluation Team on the Move November 2014
The 2014 Adopt-A-School evaluations have begun. Each community (55 in total) isl having an all day visit and review from the CONAPAC team. There are eight staff members from CONAPAC, twelve Peruvian volunteers, and three American visitors joining this important process, creating six teams in total. Claire Lannoye-Hall and Adam Dewey from the Detroit Zoo and Ron Rossi from EKOAmazon have joined us in this process.
The teams review three areas—teacher and student competency, community leadership and organization, and environmental sensibility of the community residents at large. After all the data is collected and communities are ranked, decisions will be made about continuing community participation for 2015. A particular focus is on environmental and clean water management. A special thank you to Explorama for contributing boats, drivers, accommodations and food for all the volunteers and CONAPAC. Follow Claire and Adam as they participate in the evaluations.
Old and new friends visit October 2014
Yes, the whirlwind has begun--Pachita (aka Nancy Kopf) has arrived for her umpteenth trip to the Amazon! As always, we love to have her joyful presence and giving soul among us, no matter how short the visit might be. Read more about Pachita on our CONAPAC Donors page.
Our newest CONAPAC Amazon Library volunteer, Jane Claud (or Tia Juanita now), is a retired school library media specialist from Pompano Beach, Florida. Jane is spending two weeks with us, bringing her professional expertise to the library by reviewing our book selection and cataloging system, among other important tasks. She and her friends donated a mountain of valuable and useful items to the library. That was a lot of weight to bring on the plane but she did it.
Our First International Exchange Student September 2014
This year the CONAPAC Amazon Library has worked with three scholarship students. Our newest scholarship recipient, Andrea Asipali, has earned a joint scholarship from the library and the San Borja Sur Rotary Club of Lima to study abroad during the 2014–2015 school year. Andrea is from the community of Palmeras and has been attending the library since she was a little girl. After graduating from high school in December, Andrea moved to Iquitos to study English, preparing for her visa interview and the year ahead. She continued her English studies in Lima and tried to prepare for life as an exchange student through Rotary meetings and workshops. Her last hurdle in this year-long process was her visa interview at the US Embassy. Her visa was approved and Andrea has been able to enroll in Fremont High School, in Fremont, Michigan, as a high school senior this fall. Classes are just beginning and she is there in attendance, thanks to the San Borja Sur and Fremont Rotary Clubs and our generous donors who have made this dream a reality for Andrea!
This year's Adopt-A-School April 2014
Volunteers came from around the world to help implement this year’s Adopt-A-School Program deliveries and our new clean water program for AAS classrooms. This was a tremendous effort, but one that promises long term, sustainable results—literacy and clean water for overall health. The first team started work on March 29, assembling 200 kits of Sawyer PointONE™ water filter system materials—plastic buckets, taps, filters and hoses, along with related cleaning and educational materials. Delivery of books and school supplies began on March 31. During the following six days, over 100 schools, with 3,500 teachers and students, received their supplies for this year.
Community Water Plant Operator Training February 2014
We just finished our second operator training workshop for this year. What a great way to empower the communities to solve their own problems by training them to make or repair their water filters and/or replace parts in the water plant that have failed. A serious step in the goal of real sustainability, not just "feel good" ribbon cutting ceremonies by donors. Thanks to our sponsor, The SAGA Charitable Trust that funded this year's water monitoring program for our partner communities which have access to clean drinking water.
Home Filter Systems January 2014
Our Sawyer PointOne clean water filter systems pilot project has come to an end and 100% of the families have decided to keep and pay for their filters. Great news! Now, we will move forward, placing a filter system in each of our AAS classrooms throughout the program.
End of Year Evaluations November 2013
Right now, CONAPAC staff and volunteers from the city of Iquitos are on the river doing yearly community evaluations. All 55 communities will be visited during this two-week period by a team of 16 evaluators. This process includes a review of teacher performance, student gains, condition of the village common areas, and other aspects of their contract with CONAPAC's Adopt-A-School program. Once all the data is gathered, CONAPAC will compile and assess the results. Interested communities that have met our requirements will be invited to join AAS for 2014.
Community Clean Water Systems October 2013
Breaking news! One of our donor partners, SAGA Charitable Trust, has just committed to funding our first-ever water monitoring program, which will be fully implemented in 2014.
In our larger Adopt-A-School partner communities, we build concrete water treatment plants that can serve 350-400 people per day. The number of communities who desire their own water plants continues to grow and our donors are responding. We now have community water plants in 30 rainforest villages along the Amazon and Napo Rivers. Construction is in progress on the last of the four to be built this year (in the villages of Juventud Yarina, Timicurillo, Juancho Playa, and Santa Lucia), bringing the total to 31.
Progress With Sawyer Water Filter Systems September 2013
Sawyer Products, Inc. of Safety Harbor, FL, says this about their PointONE™ clean water filter system: “Families are able to hook up their filter literally in minutes to almost any locally found container. The gravity-operated filter and fast flow rate mean anyone, anywhere can have clean water in a matter of seconds.” We think this small-size system meets our needs perfectly. Results for the pilot project will be compiled and assessed at the end of the year. If all is positive, as we expect, the Sawyer Filter System will be made available to more of our partner communities, especially those that are too small or too scattered to warrant the investment of a large community water treatment plant. This system may also be a good backup for families each flood season when they have to relocate or the larger water treatment plants cannot operate.
Water Audit Team Visit August 2013
Another great group of graduate students from the University of Colorado-Boulder Environmental Engineering program has visited this year. They're here for a month doing extensive surveys and water testing for communities that have either community water treatment plants or are involved in the Sawyer PointONE™ Filter System pilot project. Each year the findings from the groups' surveys has helped us improve and refine our clean water program.
New Household Water Filter Systems July 2013
CONAPAC has been providing clean water systems to our Adopt-A-School partners since 2008. However, not all communities in our program are large enough to need a permanent centrally located water treatment plant. This year, we’ve implemented a pilot program to test in these smaller communities using the Sawyer Filter System. This simple, affordable, easy-to-use, easy-to-clean, filter is based on kidney dialysis technology. We’re excited about the possibilities that the Sawyer Filter Systems might provide to the AAS families—and to our passionate donors, who see the benefit of combining access to both education and clean drinking water as a worthy endeavor.
AAS Teacher Workshops June 2013
CONAPAC takes on the enormous educational task of enhancing teaching skills for many rural teachers in the Peruvian Amazon. Through training workshops, 204 teachers from 56 Amazonian communities are building and improving their teaching skills. This helps to provide better educational services to more than 3000 students. For participating teachers, these workshops may be the only opportunity for professional development throughout the year. In addition to teachers, the leaders of all the communities involved are also invited and have the opportunity to acquire knowledge and to develop skills that will result in improved performance of their work as local authorities. Due to the great distance between communities, the three-day workshops are presented four times in four different villages so that teachers and leaders can come from nearby communities.
Las Malvinas Fish Farm May 2013
The aquaculture pond at Las Malvinas School in Puchana, just outside of Iquitos, recently was stocked with new baby fish. To keep their fish farm project going, new fry were delivered and released by the high school students. The starter fish are fed a special formula to help them grow quickly. Later the students will help with the harvest and collect data for each catch, calculating growth and development. The fish will be sold and, from the profits, enough money is put aside to run the project the next year. As an incentive for participation, the remaining cash goes to the classes that took care of the fish during the school year.
Adopt-A-School April 2013
We've just celebrated Adopt-A-School's 20th anniversary! After successfully completing two weeks of deliveries in April, and thanks to our delivery volunteers and our donors, the teachers and the children in our 56 Adopt-A-School communities have the materials they need for another school year. Each community prepared a celebration to greet the volunteers, Peruvian Education Department representatives, and CONAPAC staff. There was a lot of singing and dancing during the presentations, as well as speeches and introductions.
Pilot Water Project December 2012
The latter part of this year we did a lot of work at CONAPAC on our pilot water project. Our intern from the University of Colorado was here for two months and did a great job. She spent extended time in many of our communities that have clean water systems, living and working alongside the operators. Later she was back in the city where she and the CONAPAC staff spent countless hours on development of a new operator training program. Although our water program has been developing well for being just five years old, we've found the consistent weak link to be the lack of qualified operators on the village level. The world is littered with clean water projects and good intentions, but most fall into disuse or disrepair quickly without qualified people on the ground consistently to insure the projects continue to function. We believe this intense operator training (to be started in 2013) is the link to lasting water projects in the communities we serve. Our water program continues to grow as we install more and more water systems. The goal to provide access to clean drinking water for all our Adopt-A-School communities by the end of 2015 is on track. With the help of our donor base, CONAPAC staff, and our partnerships with Amazon Explorama Lodges, the Detroit Zoo and the University of Colorado, it's been an adventure and a pleasure to work together on this worthy goal.
Projects, Amazon Library Addition, Water Audit Team July 2012
As always, there is a lot happening here in the rainforest. With Adopt-A-School deliveries completed for 2012, the real fun began—teacher workshops. And this year we had the added challenge of the great flooding. Our workshops had to be put off until June, which was right in the middle of our busiest time with service project groups. But, little by little, every workshop was hosted, service projects were conducted, and life in the rainforest returned to normal. Our service projects continue now into July and August, with a few final ones later in the year. As we hear every year, participants claim this to be the most fun, interesting, and rewarding thing they did on their whole trip to Peru! The CONAPAC Amazon Library has hosted many visitors this summer and the students have enjoyed the diversion. With school closed for so long, the kids were in higher attendance than usual and for a longer part of the day. We hope this helped keep up their reading skills while classes were suspended.
The new addition to the library is going up nicely. Through donations from our good friends at Amazon Amigos, we've been able to reuse the wood from an old building. This new room will be a large multi-purpose space for which we have endless ideas. We're adding a rain catchment system for our drinking water and a new porch with an extended overhang to our front entrance. These changes will expand the existing space and we expect our student numbers to grow as we add programs, activities, and events to the yearly library calendar. Our Sapo Playa branch of the library, which had been seriously flooded, is back in business with after-school reading programs and has hired a new part-time helper.
Just this week our water team arrived to handle yearly surveys and audits. Graduate students from the University of Colorado will once again spend a month in Iquitos and in the jungle reviewing our water program, reporting on usage rates, testing water quality, and offering their valuable insights for program improvement. This is the fourth year the university team has assisted us. The recommendations offered each year have had a profoundly positive impact on how our program operates. We have one more year to go with this current partnership. This year we're laying the groundwork for a year long pilot program. This project will add more operator training, more conveniently locate small stores from which to buy supplies, and create a network of local water technicians who can regularly check water plants for problems. Full results will be in next year. In the meantime, we continue to look for more interested communities to participate in the program. We now build new concrete water towers exclusively—a vast improvement over wood. Although more expensive, they are the best option for the harsh environment of the rainforest. We anticipate many years of service to the prospective communities.
Concrete Water Treatment Plants May 2012
Our first concrete water plant was completed at the end of March in the village of San Antonio de Miraño on the Napo River. We are so excited to move to a much more secure and long-lasting design. Yes, it will cost more but it will be worth it! Our newest water treatment plant is in San Juan de Floresta, built this month.
Adopt-A-School April 2012
Adopt-A-School 2012 has come to a successful end. Despite historically high water levels and massive flood conditions, all kids and most teachers received their annual school supplies thanks to our great donors and volunteers. Thank you one and all!!
Thank you, Sacred Heart students (from Michigan) who worked tirelessly to make classroom supply bags for Adopt-A-School 2012. We did it all in 2 days--a record!
Another Good Year at CONAPAC December 2011
We end 2011 having accomplished all goals that we set at the first of the year, plus all the other unforeseen projects which invariably popped up along the way. We built seven new water treatment plants, plus an extra one for International Expeditions in a community that is not in our program. We hosted eight water workshops and completed our Adopt-A-School deliveries and community/teacher workshops in the spring. We continued our work with the garden at Las Malvinas School, the Amazon Jungle Library, community service projects, and high school scholarships. Despite Marcos leaving, our team really stepped up and we find ourselves completely caught up and all of our promised projects completed.
Plans for next year are shaping up quickly as we gather continued support from our donor base. We have funding to build six more water treatment plants, make Adopt-A-School deliveries, provide workshops, start a new pilot project to create a sustainable system of monitoring and oversight for the water treatment plants, hire a new employee to replace Marcos, purchase laptops for the staff, and continue work in the urban garden and the library. Stay tuned for more details and periodic recaps of all our jungle adventures.
We at CONAPAC wish you Happy Holidays and a Prosperous New Year!
A Very Busy Season October 2011
June, July, and August, which tend to be slower months for CONAPAC, have been just as busy as the rest of the year. Our newest staff member, Megan Thomas, has taken over as the director of the Amazon Jungle Library, and has made a three-year committment to CONAPAC. The library has two branches: one near Palmeras II and the other in the community of Sapo Playa. The programs and opportunities for children who use the library continue. With increasing donor assistance, we hope to expand next year by providing post high school scholarships and by investing in computer technology that will bring Internet access to the Amazon Jungle Library.
Staff changes continued with the resignation of Marcos Overjluis, our biologist and longtime CONAPAC employee. Marcos joined CONAPAC in 2005 and has been a driving force behind our water, fish farm, and other sustainable projects. Never one to sit still, Marcos had decided it was time to pursue his own personal business interests and spend more time with his family. The legacy of clean water and other improvements to village life will be credited to Marcos for years to come.
James Pasmino and Alberto Vela continued the work on the water projects that were promised this year. Construction of the community water treatment plants was completed at Santa Victoria, Canada, and Yurac Yacu. Our water education workshops followed, and with help from Peruvian teacher volunteers, each community had the opportunity to learn and understand more about the benefits and responsibilities involved in this important community improvement. In 2011, six new water systems were added. We also carried out a pilot project in Llachapa where 16 individual household water systems were installed. Our water program, which started in 2008, has now installed 21 systems in communities committed to and participating in the Adopt- A-School program. At least six more water plants will be added in 2012 as we work toward our goal of providing access to clean water to all our partner communities along the Amazon and Napo Rivers.
And finally, no summer would be complete without hosting a range of service projects for tourist guests. In cooperation with Explorama Tours, our staff facilitated over 20 groups: high school students, museum curators, educators, and just plain regular folks with a passion for the rainforest. Trees were planted, latrines built, schools and homes painted, cement sidewalks laid. Each community service day ended with a soccer game, volunteers and village residents all participating. This year we asked each service project volunteer to complete a written survey. The majority commented that their day of community service was the highlight of their trip to Peru. This part of CONAPAC's responsibilities continues to grow as we anticipate more and more interested parties to visit the Amazon rainforest to learn firsthand about this precious resource in which we all have a stake.
New Program and a Special Visitor July 2011
July brought changes as CONAPAC took over the CCC Amazon Library, adding one more major project to the CONAPAC family. Started 13 years ago by Dr Nancy Dunn, the library boasts over 4,000 titles, computers, music programs, and after school instruction. There is a second branch in a community down river about 30 minutes, so things are growing and we hope to add more branches soon. Dr. Dunn decided it was time to move on in her life so she gave CONAPAC the library as a gift and we have now taken full responsibility to keep it running. Megan Thomas, a former Peace Corps volunteer, who also originates from Michigan, has taken the reins and the transition is complete.
In July we hosted our first Rotary water workshop. CONAPAC's reputation for education has spread and, although Rotary International does a great job building water treatment plants, they don't have an education piece. We were hired to facilitate their first one in the jungle. It went very well and we expect to be doing more very soon.
Also in July, we had the honor of a visit from one of our most committed water project donors, Janice Lee, who is the Director of the Saga Charitable Trust in the UK. Janice's organization has consistently funded more water projects for CONAPAC than any other entity. She was here 2 ½ years ago and thought it was time to return and see the work we are doing. She made several community visits and had a chance to really chat with folks and hear their feedback about the value of drinking clean water. Overall, a very positive and productive visit!
Amazon Service Projects late June 2011
June found CONAPAC very busy with service projects and other donor groups. As mentioned earlier, we have a donor out of Denver who funded a pilot project to install individual water systems in jungle homes. This was accomplished in April and the donor arrived in June to see the results. We had a great visit, the feedback from residents was very positive, and our donor shows strong signs of continuing his help with more mini-water treatment systems. We are considering installing them in classrooms, especially for smaller communities where there is no clean water system. CONAPAC also hosted the annual water project review where a third party comes in and evaluates our systems. Our partnership with the University of Colorado at Boulder has proven to be invaluable in accessing the effectiveness of our water program. Four grad students and their professor were here for a month, making many visits to our communities and executing in-depth interviews with the residents. We are eagerly awaiting their final and full report sometime in August, but preliminarily, we have been encouraged by the anecdotal observations which the team made before departing. However, as always, we still look forward to more suggestions for improvement!
An Amazon Spring June 2011
The water is up. After historic low water levels last fall, this spring has brought the reverse. But no complaint, as it makes everything look so much nicer and makes it so much easier to access villages by boat. The year has been busy and productive. So far we've brought three more water plants on line, with two more in the making this spring. By the end of the year, we'll add three more. The CONAPAC team just finished the community education workshops for the two latest water plants we built-—Puinahua and Yanamono II. We had almost a 100% participation rate, so we are feeling quite confident that river residents value these improvements to the community. The kids made their murals and we all had a blast! We've recently been asked by the local Rotary Club to host a water workshop for a village community where they will be providing a water plant. The club is not set up for this kind of education, so CONAPAC will be filling the void in July. It will be our first collaboration with the Iquitos Rotary Club and hopefully more will follow in our common effort to provide access to clean water.
In April we made Adopt-A-School deliveries and had a successful Conservation Expedition. The late date of Easter this year made us schedule these projects a bit early, but still we had more volunteer participants than ever before. Volunteer fees help underwrite the cost of our employee salaries, so more money can go into programs. Explorama Lodges, as always, was very generous in providing food, lodging, boats, and guides for our delivery efforts. Without our volunteers and Explorama, there wouldn't be a CONAPAC. Thank you one and all!!
Soon CONAPAC will be taking over management and ownership of the CCC Jungle Library, which was started by Dr. Nancy Dunn about 10 years ago. This unique place of learning is located about 50 miles down the Amazon River from Iquitos in the heart of the Peruvian rainforest. CONAPAC plans to make only minimal changes to Nancy's successful formula, but nonetheless this will be a transitional year. Megan Thomas, our current CONAPAC volunteer, has been learning the ropes. She will take over day-to-day management in July and, if all goes according to plan, Megan will be with CONAPAC and the library for several years to come. Keep your eye out for more information on this latest endeavor.
Water Workshops May 2011
CONAPAC just hosted two more water education workshops in the communities of Puinahua and Yanamono II. Over 300 more rainforest residents have access to potable water through our community water treatment plants. The kids participated in creating water theme-based murals and the best group won prizes! Young and old, the value of clean water was reinforced, further strengthening Amazon River communities!
Sandy Spring Friends School Service Project March 2011
On March 16th the students from Sandy Spring Friends School in Maryland visited the community of San Antonio de Miraño for a service project. They painted houses, planted palm trees, worked on a sidewalk, and began building a playground. They finished the day celebrating Carnival, getting their faces painted with achiote, dancing around the Humisha palm tree, and getting soaking wet! The students did an awesome job and the community looks great!
A Great 2011 is Planned for CONAPAC February 2011
The schedule is filling up fast at CONAPAC. Our donors continue to respond to the need for clean water, education. and oversight. The SAGA Charitable Trust came through with funding for four water plants, plus the necessary monitoring. We have three other water plants planned from individual donors. They are St. John's Church in Chambersburg, PA, the DeBlieu Family from Manteo, NC, Amazon Amigos, and Mr. James Humphrey from Grand Rapids, MI. We haven't decided where all the water plants will be located but thus far we are committed to Santa Martha, Yanamono, Puinauhua, and San Antonio de Marupa. At the end of this year we will have built 21 community water plants, providing access to clean water for over 4,000 river residents.
Although Adopt-A-School is a year-round effort, it really starts heating up now! Books and supplies are due any day. Every hallway, empty corner, or storeroom will be stacked with paper, pencils, balls, notebooks, etc. Due to the later date of Easter this year, AAS is doing deliveries before the holiday, which means we start on Monday, April 2nd. The pressure is on, but with the long winter that most of the US states have endured, our volunteers are more than ready to get into some hot humid weather. Once again, we'll have two teams of volunteers. The first will handle only deliveries of books and supplies. The second team will do a few deliveries and then move on to the village of Llachapa for four days. Here they will help install individual water systems in 16 homes. This is part of a pilot project being underwritten by LifeSource Adventist Fellowship in Denver, CO. This one-year program will measure the usage rate and opinions of the community by using three different systems: one community-wide water plant and two different individual systems. We hope to learn which system offers the best option for communities.
Service projects are already underway, and our newest member at CONAPAC, Megan Thomas, has been helping all week with the students from Field School in Washington, D.C. There are three more projects planned for March and one in April. June, July. and August will bring a whole other round of school groups. Megan will be helping Marcos with most of these projects, as well as working at Las Malvinas school and the CCC Library new to Explorama Lodge. Welcome Megan--we're delighted to have you and your expertise!
Adopt-A-School 2011 is just around the corner Mid-November 2010
Textbooks have been ordered and received, and all 25,000 notebooks that we custom produce are on order. We're hoping to beat the Christmas rush for school supplies and other products which clog up shipping around this time of year. With Easter so late next year, the AAS delivery week has been moved up by two weeks, putting more pressure on the process. But sometimes a tighter deadline keeps everyone more focused. We expect some extra volunteers this coming year and, no matter what, it will all fall into place!
Our seven water plants for this year are also wrapping up. We are thrilled to now have 14 in place, providing access to clean water for about 3,500 people. We have more to do, but our donors continue to be generous and community interest is high. We will also wrap up our seventh community education water workshop in December. These workshops have been invaluable to the success of the water plants. Continued testing and monitoring will be a focus for 2011 as we add more water plants and care for the ones we have built thus far.
The Garden at Las Malvinas School November 2010
What a great year we've had at Las Malvinas School with our garden project. Along with growing vegetables, medicinal plants, ornamental plants, and a nursery, we have a fish and turtle pond. This was the first year for the fish farm, and although we had an uphill battle to get it off the ground, we made it happen and it's been a great success. This week we harvested the last of the 450 fish we originally added in May. From fish barely the size of your little finger, they have grown to well over a kilo each (2.2 pounds). This has been the senior class project, and the students have learned a great deal along the way, not just the process of growing and maintaining a fish farm, but the principles of business. They have learned how to make an investment and calculate costs to determine gross and net profits, used mathematical and scientific techniques, and experienced the joy of success.
The whole school turned out to watch the harvest along with the director of the board of education and some local press. Several women from the neighborhood were there with their baskets to make purchases. All the fish were sold immediately, either at the open market or to Explorama Lodges. The going price for this kind of fish is S/7 per kilo (about $1.15 per pound). The students have a savings account which has been building throughout the year. Now they will have seed money for next year as the new seniors start classes in March. The pond will be drained, cleaned, and made ready for next year. We plan to start the project immediately upon the beginning of the school year in March since the pond is already in place. This will give the fish more time to grow. We anticipate more profits to help with the cost of fish food and other expenses. The seniors this year will take a small portion to spend on a class party. International Expeditions has made this endeavor possible by providing funds for project development and ongoing operational expenses.
How Low Can It Go? October 2010
This year's low water season has been historic. Just when we think it might turn around, a little rain falls or we hear there's rain in the highlands, it only gets worse! Many items that normally come to Iquitos by boat are just sitting and waiting. The locals who normally fill the markets with fish, plantains, and other jungle fruit cannot even get to the Amazon or Napo Rivers, as their own access streams are dried up. Getting to Iquitos to sell their goods is impossible. The markets are noticeably more quiet, and that is not a good sign.
We worry about our communities that have water treatment plants. In some cases, the water pipes that feed the treatment plants aren't long enough, nor is the pump motor powerful enough to draw water for processing. Some communities organize bucket brigades in order to fill the tanks, but that too is getting more and more difficult. Most villages have a small stream or pond deeper in the rainforest on the way to their chacras, but this water will not get treated and, despite strides in producing clean water, at times it's just not possible to treat it for consumption. We are all very eager for the October/November rains to fall and the snow in the Andes to begin to melt so that water will come our way.
Fish Harvest at Las Malvinas Garden August 2010
At the end of July, students at Las Malvinas School in Iquitos carried out the first of three fish harvests for the season. The creation and development of this small fish farm in the middle of the city has been a long time in coming, so everyone was delighted to finally see the fruits of their labor. International Expeditions is the donor for this fish farm and the Las Malvinas Garden. Friends of Amazon Amigos have also contributed in a variety of ways, particularly helping with fish food for the year. During the harvest the students learned a great deal. All the fish were accounted for and about 100 were measured and weighed for a report on average size and weight. Profits from fish sales will go to pay for fish food for next year’s class. The students are learning the value of hard work, investment, sales and marketing, bookkeeping, profits, and reinvestment. And everyone had a very good time.
U.S. Students Join Villagers to Work on Projects July 2010
June should be the end of school--right? For most it is, but for a few, school's not out yet. During June and July, Explorama and CONAPAC hosted 13 middle and high school student groups doing a wide variety of projects. They have built water treatment plants, helped build children's playgrounds, painted houses and schools, planted palm and camu camu fruit trees, built benches, dug trenches and laid pipes for water plants, poured cement and made sidewalks, created art projects and painted community murals. Wow! What a lot of work! But it was fun, too. We're happy to have them and the cross-cultural activities enriched their travel experience.
Assessing Water Systems June 2010
Once again our grad students from the University of Colorado are here for more work on clean water and sanitation systems. Christie Chatterley, David Sparkman, Cole Sigmon, and Jeff Walters will be here for the month of June. Along with James Pasmiño (our new CONAPAC staff member) and local university students from Iquitos, they will be visiting all our communities which currently have water plants. If time allows, they will stop by other communities that have expressed an interest in clean water systems. These students will be providing valuable feedback to CONAPAC about usage rates, ease of access, attitudes, barriers to usage, health status, financial limitations, etc. We look forward to their observations and recommendations. This information will be shared with our donors, both large and small, as we move forward in our attempt to provide clean water systems to all communities in our Adopt-A-School program. We are on track to have 16 water plants built this year. However, there are 73-75 communities in our program. We've done a lot, but have a long way to go. Our collaboration with the University of Colorado has been a real bonus for our long-term goals and we hope to continue the partnership next year and beyond!
New CONAPAC Staff Member April 2010
Probably the biggest challenge CONAPAC has, besides the great travel distances to travel to do our work, is the lack of adequate manpower. With International Expeditions’ financial support, we were positioned this year to hire additional staff. We are delighted to introduce James Pasmiño Escobedo, an accredited school teacher who has had extensive experience in the rainforest. He taught for seven years and then worked in the Adopt-A-School rainforest community of Nuñez Cocha the last four years as its principal. He will be working in the jungle five days a week, using Marcos’s old boat to visit villages. A rotation schedule will be worked out so that each village school and various sustainable projects will be visited on a regular basis. We expect James to be able to answer questions, find solutions and encourage cooperation among community authorities, residents, teachers, parents and students. James has been contracted to work from April through December of 2010. Everyone at CONAPAC is excited about the possibilities and experience James will bring to the table. Improving our project oversight, supporting and retaining teachers, plus assisting with service projects, are just a few of the things we hope to achieve with this added CONAPAC staff member.
Great gifts from our partners! February 2010
Very soon we will begin our 17th year of providing books and school supplies to children and teachers who live along the Amazon and Napo Rivers. Unfortunately, this year our donor units are down substantially. But GREAT NEWS! International Expeditions and the Detroit Zoological Society have stepped up to fill the void. New textbooks and teacher workshops will once again be provided due to their generosity. Thank you IE and DZS for coming to the rescue. You’re the best!!
Once again, the SAGA Foundation has provided a substantial grant to CONAPAC for the construction of water treatment plants. Last year they helped us build three water plants and provided money for seven water workshops. This year, they have made a donation large enough to build four new water plants, provide six workshops and extra money for gasoline and salaries. They are an excellent and on-going donor-partner working to improve the lives of those living along the Amazon and Napo Rivers.