During my stay in Tena, Napo, I was doing a Conservation and Climate Change Mitigation Internship with Amazon Learning. I was there volunteering for Kallari, an Indigenous cocoa association while learning about conservation in the Napo region through guided excursions.
I was helping the communications department. I managed social media pages, accompanied employees on days where they bought cocoa, on organic and fair trade certification days and visits to the vanilla and guayusa plants. I helped with anything else from tours to packing chocolate bars. Through my work with them, I learned about the functioning of cooperatives and their community impact. It was fascinating to learn about the process of chocolate-making, vanilla bean and guayusa processing. During my stay, I was also understanding how agriculture can be beneficial to communities (cash crops, food on the table, materials for their homes) but also for the environment when using a culturally-appropriate agroforestry system called ‘chakra’.
On the other side, I was visiting community-, family- or individually managed tourism centres or land. It was in being in those places that I understood the differences in those approaches and how they impact conservation in the Amazon. Intermingled through it all, I learned about the private and the public sectors’ roles in climate change mitigation in Ecuador. Let’s just say, it’s not pretty with actors such as China having stakes in every facet of Ecuadorian society (and most importantly its economy).
Finally, I was meeting individuals who are working in the region and who are looking to preserve the Amazon. Some were French citizens working on reforestation for their service civic, others were Americans managing various NGOs, some were working in private companies and a few were Indigenous consultants or workers. Put together, it allowed me to understand the historically ugly, economically corrupted, environmentally degraded, socially complicated and culturally diverse tableau.
While seeing the hands-on work required for agriculture and sustenance needs and while discussing the impacts of international trade and certification requirements, I became aware of how I wanted my path to cross such issues. I realized that I preferred working with theories and finding creative ways to apply them in the world, and even as I am happily discovering the world, I look forward to next year when I will be in university. I am applying to different law programs back home to utilize law as a tool to adequately inform the economic, environmental and political facets of society.
Cheers to that and fingers crossed!
Bonus: Kichwa Words and Sentences
- Sacha: jungle
- Sinchi: Fuerte
- Chivilla: Pineapple
- Guiña: Plantain
- Ishpingo: (Amazonian) cinnamon
- Sisa: Flor
- Laranck: Orange
- Ayak: Lime
- Samachik: Lemongrass (yummm)
- Likchachik: Coffee
- Indi: Sun(ny)
- Chiri: Cold
- Tamia: Rain(ny)
- Punga: Time
- Shuwa: Thief
- Shami: Come here
- Ali punja: Good morning
- Ali tchichi: Good afternoon
- Camba shuti: Your name?
- Nuica shuti Bee: My name is Bee
- Maima riungy: Where are you going?
- Riuni Tena: I am going to Tena
- Tigi ramungi: I am coming back in the afternoon
- Ali mikushkatchu: Bon appétit!
And there you have it, some Kichwa words that I 100% don’t know if that is how they are written!