Most days don’t start with a walk through a construction site and a “mototaxi” ride to get into the office, but today it did. It also included watching an iguana outside of the office window as it rested against the tree branch soaking in the Amazonian heat.
Currently, I am in Iquitos, Peru, preparing for evaluations in 53 rural communities along the Amazon and Napo Rivers. This is part of our Adopt-A-School program that the Detroit Zoological Society (DZS) supports in conjunction with an organization called Conservacion de la Naturaleza Amazonica del Peru, A.C. (CONAPAC), based out of Iquitos.
We work together to bring conservation awareness to these communities as well as provide opportunities for education. Each spring, the DZS leads groups of volunteers down to Peru to deliver school supplies to these communities. In the fall, as the schools wrap up their school year, we send DZS staff to attend these evaluations to check in with communities on how well they are using their supplies, how well the students are learning and how well they are maintaining the environment around their communities. That’s what DZS Education Specialist Adam Dewey and I are here to accomplish.
Although I’ve attended the school deliveries in the past, this is my first opportunity to be here for the evaluation component. I’m looking forward to seeing what the communities look like without the festivities that the school supply deliveries bring. We will see students in school, see how they learn and all that they’ve been able to accomplish this past year. We will talk with leaders within the program to see how well they’ve maintained and supported the service projects that have been completed within their communities. We will also see the new water filtration systems in use in each of the schools. Clean drinking water has been an additional project for CONAPAC, and one that has helped to keep children in these communities healthy, so I am especially looking forward to seeing this in action.
Soon, we will be heading down the river to rustic lodges in beautifully remote areas, where hot water isn’t an option, and electricity is only found in the dining hall. I am looking forward to being immersed in the rainforest for the next two weeks, spending time in these communities and visiting with the amazing people that live here. Check back soon to hear more about the program and our upcoming adventures in the communities!
– Carla Van Kampen is a curator of education for the Detroit Zoological Society.