This project was created during a course at the University of Maine, Augusta. The course was Science 150, Ecology and the Future.
During December 2010 I took a trip to the Amazon River area near the shared border of Colombia, Brazil, and Peru. My coworkers in my school in Bogota said I had to go there while in Colombia. As well as taking a tour of the area and seeing some small cities and towns, I also wanted to visit an indigenous village. The owner of the hostel I was staying at gave me the name, cell phone number and location of the village of a native guide. After trying to contact him for two days without luck, we decided to go to the village and find him.
So, we struck off on a Monday morning with four days of food, camping equipment, and a boat ticket to La Libertad. After a one hour speedboat ride up the Amazon, we pulled over to the side of the river. I could only see two shacks and a Colombian flag sticking through the jungle vegetation. The boat pilot said we were there. I remember thinking, “Where is the village? What happens if we can’t find our guide? What the HECK am I doing here?” The four day experience that followed was one of the most interesting and thought provoking of my life.
While staying at the village I tried to learn as much as I could about the river, jungle, and way of life of the villagers. I asked many questions and took many pictures. The difficulties and trials of their lives were shared by us. Usually, after I have visited an area I do not have a strong desire to return anytime soon, if at all. That was not the case here. For me the life was hard, hot and dirty, and I wanted more. But, as with all vacations this came to an end and a return to work. Little did I know that I would be returning to the village 9 months later to start work on what was to become the Amazon Pueblo project.
La Libertad was founded 20 years ago by 10 small families. Now the village numbers a little under 400, of which about 170 are below the age of 18. While some new families have arrived, the majority of new people are due to a high birth and low death rate. The problems facing the village are water contamination, poor waste disposal, land erosion, primitive farming techniques, lack of dependable energy, grossly inadequate employment, and limited educational opportunities. In brief, the people of the village are not living sustainably. The project’s main goal is to help the villagers to live sustainably, by providing support in the areas of health, education, and business.
My name is Ben Angulo. I am a middle school science teacher, and I currently go to college, live and work in Rockland, Maine. Here is a link to my Curriculum Vitae site.
This project would not have been possible with the help of the my friends, classmates, professors, and the people of La Libertad.