D&F Graduation!

And the day arrived!!! one of the most amazing experiences I had so far arrived to its end… I am officially graduated from the Engage in Conservation project of D&F Academy and the Jane Goodall Institute. Here a great summary of D&F fellowship.

 

Engaging youth in biodiversity conservation….

¨Education breeds confidence, confidence breeds hope, and hope breeds peace¨ -Confucius

Last Monday, I had the chance to present Vivamos el Bosque at the Catholic University in Quito to a class of undergrad biology students. One of the goals of the project is to raise awareness about the importance of biodiversity conservation in urban areas, and to invite more people to take actions to protect the cloud forest.
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As a guest speaker in a course of Biodiversity and Development, I presented Vivamos el Bosque from beginning to end…How did it started? The dream, the idea, the project… How did Jane Goodall Inspired me? How did Dekeyser & Friends Academy supported my venture? and How did I implemented Vivamos el Bosque this year….DSC_0869My goal was to show how small initiatives can have a positive impact in people and the environment. Students got really interested in the project. They asked important questions and gave good feedback to improve the project. Questions such as “how sustainable is the initiative in the long run” or “how self-sufficient are the youth entrepreneurs” made me rethink about certain issues of the project that still need to be taken care. For example, it is critical that Vivamos el Bosque initiative works well with me or without me and to attain that point there is still much to be done.
My hope is that my presentation inspired them a little and more youth take action to protect the environment with Vivamos el Bosque or with any other initiative they are interested in.

Thank you very much to Prof. Alvaro Barragán for giving me the chance to present the project to his class, for his friendship and ongoing support!

Accountability…

This post it is not about a workshop for our youth entrepreneurs but the evaluation I conducted about Vivamos el Bosque. Been accountable is for me very important… I am constantly asking myself if the program I designed is really benefitting the youth from “El Maltón” community or if the beneficiaries are supporting the activities…
Evaluacion Vivamos el BosqueThe better way to know about their perspective is asking for their feedback and listening carefully for their recommendations. Evaluacion vbTo be successful, Vivamos el Bosque must be genuine in its work with beneficiaries and the community, clear in its financial dealings and open about what the money is spent on, and veritable in its reporting. After a long talk with our young entrepreneurs, I am really happy that Vivamos el Bosque is fulfilling most of their expectations and that they are feeling encouraged to become social entrepreneurs. They asked for information about the legal requirements to start a company in Ecuador and the step by step to obtain the sanitary permission. These topics will be covered in the coming workshops.
Finally, Vivamos el Bosque wants to also be accountable to itself, to its mission, friends and volunteers. Please feel free to ask for any information you may need. It is important for us!

“El Mirador” jams

Yes! yes! yes! “El mirador” is the name of the jam from El Maltón Community in Ecuador. Last week, on Saturday the 15th of December Vivamos el Bosque held its third practical workshop. This time our young social entrepreneurs learned how to write a business plan and why it is so important to think carefully about it from the beginning of any venture. Taller 3 El malton They learned about their assets as a group, they identified their weakness, which is their target client, price, marketing. Which are the basic conditions to start their business, legal aspects etc… The workshop included a first written draft of the business plan for the jam called “El Mirador” and a practical exercise. The young entrepreneurs received a seed fund of 35 USD to produce in one week the jams they plan to sell for Christmas season. Thank you very much to Ivan Rodriguez, entrepreneur and great friend of Vivamos el Bosque for all his help and support! This coming week we are having a graphic design workshop and visual comunication!! Our young entrepreneurs will design their first logo!! Keep checking our updates!!!

Solidary Economy and Finance Management

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The second workshop was held during the second weekend of December at “El Maltón” community. We had 9 participants that joined us to the session held by Raúl Proaño, leader of a citizen school for about 20 years.

Why solidary economy? It is important to know a little about the Ecuadorian context to understand the foundations of this workshop. In 2008, Ecuador passed its new Constitution where a new development model came into force. The model is based in the “Well living or Sumak Kawsay”, and is sustained in the development of the human being and the care of nature. And more important it has an article in which the social solidarity economy is the axis of economic development.

It seemed to me a good idea to give a workshop in solidary economy along with finance management since the nature of our social veture is the conservation of the Cloud Forest.
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“Vivamos el Bosque” studied these changes, and learned from fellow experiences at the social organizations, peasant and indigenous organizations and NGOs, working to sustain this State model change.

The workshop was really interesting and got really engaged to our young social entrepreneurs. They learned about basic concepts of economy and social values that need to lead any social venture. With games and simple exchanges of products, simulating a community market, important concepts were covered and valuable information about the local situation of each of the participants could share.

I was lucky to share such an incredible experience! I am looking forward for the coming one!

Time to let the soul lead…

…and listen to the forest ooooonce again!

This week has been full of good news, surprises and whispers from the forest telling me to not lose focus and reminding me of my inner motivation in life. I went back to the cloud forest today, met Oscar, one of the youth entrepreneur that will benefit from Vivamos el Bosque. A warm conversation showed me again the reason I put all my enegies in protecting the Otonga Cloud Forest and all its beautiful people. We planned together the coming social entrepreneurship pilot program that will involved 7 youth from El Maltón Community. Thanks to Dekeyser and Friends Foundation who supported the project with 1000 Euros, the last weekend of October, Vivamos el Bosque will run its first educational program along with its second photography workshop with our friends from Tropical Herping… 🙂

So far the Social Entrepreneurship pilot program will bring 7 experts, including FLOARE and WIKIRI, friends of the Project that will share their social business experience and lessons learned to conduct the workshops. The topics are:

– Workshop 1: Product development: social enterpreneurship
– Workshop 2: Economic Sustainability
– Workshop 3: Financial management
– Workshop 4:Product design
– Workshop 5:Legal advice
– Workshop 6:Networking and communication
– Workshop 7:Sanitary requierements and permissions

At the end of my great visit to ¨El Maltón¨Community I had the chance to share some time with Don Amable Yanez, founder of ¨El Maltón¨ community who delighted me with one of his songs that I share here with you! Enjoy! and follow Vivamos el Bosque!

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We Want Peace…

To finish up-dating you about the latest news of Vivamos el Bosque, I would like to share with you my experience at the United Nations Alliance for Civilizations (UNAOC) Summer School at Coimbra, Portugal!!

I was invited to participate at the UNAOC summer school held on August 5-13th in Portugal. I might admit I was lucky to be there and it has really been one of the most important experiences I had in my life so far. UNAOC promotes World peace, dialogue and understanding by presenting and uniting youth’s different perspectives and backgrounds. 135 youth were invited to participate, and Vivamos el Bosque was selected as part of the Education for Intercultural Dialogue workshop. I presented the biocentric foundation of Vivamos el Bosque and explained how environmnental education can promote dialogue and understanding in a multicultural and plurinational setting like Ecuador. After the presentation, we had a great discussion about the topic and I receive good feedbacks, and made some important contacts interested in contributing with Vivamos el Bosque initiative 🙂

I was already really happy with everything in Portugal. I met Baker, my co-fellow from Uganda and then, I found out that Florian and Katherin from D&F Academy, Germany were giving a talk and workshop at UNAOC! it was lovely to meet them and spend some time with them. It is always good to have my D&F family close!

That is all for now!!! keep checking the blog so you don’t miss any news from Vivamos el Bosque!

I am posting here a video of the 3rd UNAOC Summer School so you can have a better idea of the event! Enjoy…

Considering the last eventS in Libia, Youth speak out asking for peace!

The Web of Life World Tour: Ecuador

Do you remember what is “The Web of Life world Tour? ” mmmmmm… nop? a quick reminder for everybody. While in Germany at D&F Academy, the 13 fellows (including myself) of the Engage in Conservation Project mentored by Jane Goodall, organized the “The Web Of Life World Tour: Hamburg” to share our findings from collaborating at D&F Academy and to engage in an open exchange with guests from our host city Hamburg. We aimed to raise questions about the nature of the Web of Life and what can be done to preserve and restore it worldwide. We dreamed of organizing the Web of Life in our countries and encourage all Roots & Shoots groups to do the same. That is how The Web of Life World Tour: Ecuador was born. I decided to organize with the community of El Malton an event on the 27th of July 2012 to offer a variety of activities to engage community members and guests in biodiversity conservation, providing a space to discover the community’s needs and assets and meet youth talents. A traditional community fair provided a framework for many conversations and allowed guests to interact with community members and understand their social and economic situation. There we had the chance to taste delicious traditional snacks from the area, including pineapple mermelade, sugar cane syrup, home made cookies, green plantain chips and more.

Then, we all had the chance to experience the unique ambiance created by the theatrical performance of the Council of All Beings, which was hosted by children from the school of El Maltón. Children represented many animals from the Otonga forest and speak out from their perspective. They shared their concerns with their human fellows.

The bees, the armadillo, the golden beetle, the frog and many more raise their voice during the event.
Finally, to close The Web of Life World Tour: Ecuador, a professional group of acrobates and theatre performers, engaged everybody in a highly interactive discussion about biodiversity conservation.

Childen, youth and adults shared a beautiful moment and committed to protect the Otonga cloud forest. People live the forest, respect the forest and help each other to build a better future for their families.

Thank you to all Vivamos al Bosque Team, Giovanni Onore and to Otonga Foundation for their support! It was an unforgettable day 😉

Time time time to catch up! Photography workshop 1

I can finally take a deep breath and share with you all about the last two months of Vivamos el Bosque! July and August have been very intense, busy and really great for the project!

As planned… Vivamos el Bosque team has organized and completed successfully its first photography workshop in collaboration with our friends from Tropical Herping. From July 24th to July 29th, 11 participants received 6 hours of theory in Quito about the basics of photography; and they spent two days in the Cloud Forest, where they discovered the magic of the Otonga Forest and had the chance to share a special time with the community of El Maltón. It was a pleasure for me to receive 9 participants from Quito and two special guests from Chile that were travelling in Ecuador when they found out about the workshop. Thank you very much to all the participants, the instructors and our friend and volunteer Celina Perez-Beck for getting involved with Vivamos el Bosque fundraising activities.

The photography workshop had three main objectives. To raise awareness about the importance of protecting the cloud forest in Ecuador; to engage more people in biodiversity conservation through Vivamos el Bosque and to fundraise for the project. I am glad that our 11 participants had the chance to learn from the experts about nature photography while getting to know about Vivamos el Bosque initiative and its close connection with the communities surrounding the otonga cloud forest.

Thank you to all of you for your support and keep in mind that more workshops are coming soon!!

Here, a picture taken by one of our participants, Alejandro Miranda.