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newly repaired roof on Natutama'senvironmental education centre in the Colombian Amazon

Natutama’s New Roof

This is the amazing and beautiful new roof on Natutama‘s roundhouse – or Kiosk – in the Colombian Amazon.  Funding for the repairs to Natutama’s environmental education and visitor centre were made possible thanks to generous donations to Children of Colombia’s Christmas Appeal – so a huge THANK YOU to all of you who kindly supported our campaign.

The roof is made of natural palm thatch and built by local craftsmen using traditional construction methods.  Now the team will start work on the floor of the building which was damaged by rain and weather when it was left unprotected from the elements.  The floor will be repainted with bright patterns of local flora and fauna, including many rare and endangered species native to the Amazon.  The centre is used to host community events and for weekly educational activities for local children keen to learn more about their environment and culture and how to protect themfor future generations.

damaged floor to be repaired at Natutama's environmental education centre in the Colombian Amazon

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repairs to Natutama's roundhouse in the Colombian Amazon

Natutama’s Building Repairs Underway

Repairs to Natutama’s Visitor Centre in the Colombian Amazon are well underway thanks to funding from Children of Colombia.

Natutama is a Colombian foundation focused on environmental research and education.  The Amazon is rich in biodiversity but its complex, delicate ecosystems rely on the ebbs and floods of the river and the support of local communities and visitors to protect endangered species such as river dolphins, turtles and manatees.

The Covid pandemic and particularly devastating floods impacted the area very badly, reducing income from the tourism and causing great poverty with shortages of essential food and medical supplies.

Natutama’s Visitor and Education Centre suffered badly and there was no money for essential repairs.

Thanks to your very generous response to our 2021 Christmas Appeal, Children of Colombia was able to transfer enough funds for Natutama to buy materials and labour to repair its iconic roundhouse – or “Kiosk”.  Built of mainly natural materials – such as palm thatch for the roof – and in traditional style, it is very eco-friendly but also requires regular maintenance as the construction deteriorates rapidly in the wet, humid climate.

Work can only go ahead in the dry season when conditions are right.  Once complete, the roundhouse will be open again to welcome visitors from far and wide as well as local schoolchildren and the community who come together to learn about their unique environment and how to conserve it and pass on local traditions, crafts and folklore to preserve and celebrate their cultural heritage.

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Double Donations Week with purchases via Give as you Live

Double Donations Week from Give as you Live

It’s Double Donations Week at Give as you Live.  Such an easy way to raise important extra funds for Children of Colombia when you shop online at no cost to you!

Give as you Live has raised over £18 million for UK charities with 5,500 High Street and big name stores giving free donations every time you shop.  Your weekly grocery shop with Sainsburys, Asda or M & S could add £s to Children of Colombia funds.

It’s very easy and completely free.  Just go to https://www.giveasyoulive.com/,up and select Children of Colombia as your chosen charity.  Each time you shop online participating stores will give a per centage of your spend to help Children of Colombia.

And this week you can raise even more – up to £100 if you book your holiday with Tui online.  Top brands John Lewis, TK Maxx and Made are also offering extra donations with purchases this week.  So why wait – help yourself and the children in Colombia by shopping online this week with Give as you Live.

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Fenix students in Bogota, Colombia celebrate academic and personal achievements in spite of Covid 19, pandemic and civil unrest

Fenix Students Celebrate the End of a Tough Year in Bogota

Students on Fundación Fénix’s education and support programme achieved excellent academic results and personal triumphs in 2021 despite the challenges of a particularly tough year in Bogotá, Colombia. 

“Lockdowns, protests and riots, street violence, curfews, job losses, classes online, fear of disease, the proximity of death, increased cost of living and decreased income and opportunities, have all made the past year extremely daunting and stressful,” writes  Fénix director Timothy Ross in the 2021 Annual Report.

“But Fénix members have gained surprising strength and determination, with great achievements and advances, growth in insight and self-knowledge, and improved family relations.”

Fénix supports students from very poor, vulnerable backgrounds through education mainly in social and health care.  To qualify in these caring professions requires long, disciplined studying, smoothing out background family problems, and money to pay for fees, books, uniforms, materials, internet, fares, rent, and food.  Your kind donations to Children of Colombia help make these things possible.

To celebrate their achievements, Director Béatriz and María Eugenia treated a group of girls to an outing to see the new Disney film ‘Encanto’ – set in Colombia – and enjoy ice cream.

Read the full report and find out more about the work of Fundacion Social Fenix by clicking the highlighted text to go straight to their page on this website.

“Our thanks go to the people who believe in us and

our personal and professional commitment to becoming

better people and contributing to a better country”. (Indira, Fenix student)

 

 

 

 

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Broswer Extension Smilematic ensures donations from your Amazon.com shopping

Smilematic Prompt for Free Donations from Amazon.com

Make sure you never miss a chance to get a free donation for Children of Colombia from Amazon with the Smilematic browser extension.

A big thank you to Marilyn Sanders who kindly sent in this tip:

“Recently I caught a post on Twitter from Children of Colombia about AmazonSmile. I wanted to mention when I was setting up AmazonSmile I also came across a browser extension called Smilematic.

It redirects me to smile.amazon.co.uk automatically whenever I shop Amazon so I don’t forget to type it in.

Here’s the tool: https://couponfollow.com/smilematic

Amazon Smile is a great way to raise free funds for Children of Colombia every time you shop online with Amazon.  Just visit smile.amazon.co.uk, sign in with your usual Amazon password, and select Children of Colombia as your preferred charity.  Amazon will donate a percentage of your purchase to Children of Colombia with no charge to you.

It’s easy to forget to sign in to Smile instead of the regular Amazon and this app automatically sends you to the right place so you never miss a donation.

The app does not track, store or send any personal user or usage information, just does what it says on the tin.

So get started today! With this free tool Amazon shoppers always donate to Children of Colombia for free without any hassle.






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Thank You for Supporting the “Save the Amazon Education Centre” Appeal

A huge thank you to everyone who supported the “Save the Amazon Education Centre” appeal in December 2021.  The campaign raised just over £1500 – way more than the £1000 target set.  The funds have already been sent to Colombia so work can start on repairing the roof of the roundhouse, one of the two main buildings that make up Natütama’s Education and Visitor Centre in Puerto Nariño in the Colombian Amazon.

Natütama is a Colombian charity dedicated to the sustainable management of resources and biodiversity in the Amazon. It runs education, research and conservation programmes from the Centre on the banks of the river in the Amazon rainforest.

Young people from the region, mainly of the Ticuna ethnic group, work closely with the local community – farmers, fishermen and especially schools and families – to teach them how to protect endangered Amazonian wildlife and habitats while continuing to live and work in the same environment.

Due to the lack of tourists during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Centre’s income dropped dramatically over the last two years which has made it very difficult to maintain the buildings which require constant attention. The need for massive re-roofing reached crisis point towards the end of 2021 but with funding from the Save the Amazon Education Centre Appeal and other donations re-roofing can now go ahead. The walkways and bridges are also being repaired and other painting work remains to be carried out.

While the number of visitors increased to 1.608 in 2021, this was still very low compared to normal years, when Natütama would have expected 6000 to 8000 visitors. Nearly half of the visitors last year were local adults and children, who do not pay an entrance fee.

Many people from the Amazon area make repeat visits to the Centre and one of the tasks for 2022 is to update the exhibits with new material.

 

 

 

 

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Still Time to Save the Amazon Education Centre

There is still time to donate to our SAVE THE AMAZON EDUCATION CENTRE campaign and end a tough year on a high note!

This beautiful illustration of the rare, gigantic pirarucu fish in the Amazon River was painted by one of the team of young educators at Natütama’s Education and Visitors’ Centre at Puerto Nariño in the Colombian Amazon, now in desperate need of urgent repairs.

Natütama is a Colombian charity dedicated to the sustainable management of resources and biodiversity in the Amazon. It runs education, research and conservation programmes from the Centre on the banks of the river in the Amazon rainforest. Built by local craftsmen using traditional construction methods and mainly natural, locally sourced materials, the Education and Visitor Centre is environmentally friendly but also needs regular repairs as the palm thatch and timber deteriorate quickly in the hot, wet climate.

Because of the pandemic, the Centre has received almost no visitor income since March 2020. There has been nothing available for maintenance. The roundhouse, constantly in use for activities, is leaking in many places and needs substantial re-roofing with palm leaves. The floor is also peeling in places and needs painting.

Young people from the region, mainly of the Ticuna ethnic group, work closely with the local community – farmers, fishermen and especially schools and families – to teach them how to protect endangered Amazonian wildlife and habitats while continuing to live and work in the same environment.

Please click here to donate today so Natütama’s important education and conservation work can continue into 2022.

 

 

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More Academic Success for Fenix Students!

Congratulations to three Fundacion Fénix students who achieved remarkable academic grades this term.

Indira and Angélica have finished their semesters with outstanding grades and at the top of their classes. Indira completed the first half of a higher education certificate to qualify in care of older adults and Angélica has finished the second year of a five year degree in social work. The two sisters come from a difficult and troubled family, with their mother and grandmother  dying recently.  Despite the problems both are remarkably caring and generous spirited girls. Their academic fees are paid by ‘godmothers’ donating through Children of Colombia.

Now over half way through her higher education diploma in physical education, Angélica Abril finished this trimester of classes as a straight A student, with a grade point average of 90%.

“We are, as you can imagine, hugely proud of them,” says Timothy Ross,  founding director of Fenix, the Colombian NGO dedicated to providing psychotherapy and educational support to vulnerable young women from troubled and abusive backgrounds.

Amazon Education Centre Christmas Appeal – Target Smashed!

The Amazon Education Centre Christmas Appeal target of £1000 has been reached thanks to your immense generosity just a week after it was launched.

We’re sure there are more people who would like to help this great cause so we are keeping the Amazon Education Centre Christmas Appeal running as planned until the end of December.  With your support, we will be able to cover labour costs as well as materials for re-building and repairing Natütama’s Education and Visitor Centre in Puerto Nariño in the Colombian Amazon.

In addition to its environmental education activities with schools and the local community, Natutama carries out important long-term research into the habitats and lifecycles of endangered species such as manatees, river dolphins and turtles native to the Amazon.

The charity depends on local fishermen, with a lifetime experience of the river and its tributaries, to monitor the numbers of species, their breeding places, new babies and sadly deaths.

The data gathered from the monitoring operation provides information which can help protect threatened species through management, rescue or protection actions and education.  The data provided has been presented at international scientific forums and can help point to areas where further research is needed.

“We as a Foundation start from the conviction that we should not touch animals or disturb them with our activities. There are some exceptional cases in which an animal can be touched: for example, to free it from a fishing net or to remove it from a place where it is endangered by human activities.” explains Natutama.

Some of the endangered species on Natutama’s monitoring and conservation programme (taken from its website):

Pink River Dolphin

The Tikuna call it Omacha. It is the largest river dolphin in the world (approx. 2.80 m.). At birth they are dark gray and turn pink over the years. Instead of a triangular fin, it has a kind of hump; this and its flexible neck, allows it to swim among the roots of trees in the flooded forest. With its long snout, it can find its food in difficult places. It is not very common to see him make jumps out of the water, only the passage of his back and the sound of breathing are perceived on the surface.

Threats: conflicts over fishing, boat trafficking and impact of dolphin watching programs

Pirarucu

It is one of the largest freshwater fish in the world, exceeding 3 m. in length, weighs up to 250 kg. It is characterized by its reddish coloration on the edge of the scales. When the oxygen in the water decreases, it takes the air out of the water, through your mouth. It feeds on fish. They form pairs and make their nests by digging at the bottom of the water or on the substrate. The nests are cared for by both parents and the young at birth swim attached to the head of the adult.

Natütama Foundation monitors catches and nest distribution in lakes and streams. Distribution of pirarucú in the backwaters of the Amazon River.

Threats: capture of small sizes, violation of the fishing ban, loss of habitat.

Charapa

They are the three most important species of aquatic turtles in the Amazon. The female of the charapa reaches up to 90 cm., the cupiso up to 30 cm. and the taricaya up to 50 cm. The size of the nests and the shape of the eggs also varies by species: the charapa lays 70 to 130 round and soft eggs, the cupiso 13 to 15 oval and carraspous eggs, and the taricaya from 20 to 45 oval and soft eggs. In winter they are found in lakes, wells, pipes and flooded forest. In summer the females go out to the river looking for the beaches to nest. The cupiso and the charapa need the beaches to make their nests, the taricaya also uses the beach, but prefers muddy sites and ravines. What most affects the turtle population is the looting of nests and capture of females by humans.

Natütama Foundation monitors the distribution and abundance of charapa, cupiso and taricaya in the posture season with protection of nests and transfer of threatened eggs. Release of turtles into the lakes at 3 months of hatching.

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Children in the Amazon learning about their environment

Natutama’s Amazing Amazon Environmental Education Programme

Thank you for supporting Children of Colombia’s “Save the Amazon Education Centre” Appeal!  We have raised more than half the £1000 target to fund repairs to Natütama’s Environmental Education and Visitor Centre in the Colombian Amazon.  Why not set up your own Fundraising page via the Just Giving link to boost the Appeal and help reach our target by the deadline of 31 December? Or click Donate Now to make a quick, no fuss donation.

Read more about the Education and Visitor Centre:

Fundacion Natütama is a Colombian charity that runs important environmental education and research programmes in the Colombian Amazon. It works with schoolchildren, families, fishermen and all the local community, teaching about conservation of the Amazon’s unique ecosystems.

The programmes are run from the Education and Visitor Centre – a beautiful, traditionally constructed building in the rainforest near the town of Puerto Nariño on the banks of the Amazon.    People come to the Education Centre to learn more about endangered species like manatees, sloths and river dolphins and how they can live alongside them without threatening their lives or habitat. The young team of educators organises fun activities such as field trips, games, painting, drama and mime.

Many activities incorporate traditional myths and folklore.  The strange, beautiful and often endangered creatures such as the manatee, boa (anaconda), caiman crocodile and river dolphin feature largely in these stories as spirits of the river and forest, interacting with humans who share their environment.   Elders from the local Ticuna and other indigenous communities visit for storytelling sessions, passing on their traditional knowledge and cultural heritage to the younger generation and reinforcing the science-based teaching about preserving and respecting the environment.

Educators (when Covid restrictions allow) hold regular environmental education classes in local schools.  Children in each grade learn more about the habits and lifecycles of different rare, endangered local creatures and how to protect them and conserve their environment.  They are awarded a special certificate at the end of each course.

Each year Natütama organises a week-long festival of activities involving the whole community and based at the Education Centre.  Parades, animal masks and costumes, theatre, dance and art all feature heavily, combinging local cultural traditions with environmental education.

Natütama’s aim is to help local people to understand and respect their local environment and to manage it sustainably alongside their traditional way of life.  Farmers are encourage not to destroy ancient trees and wildlife.  Fishermen and hunters are encouraged to avoid harming manatees, the giant pirarucu fish and other endangered species and to leave turtle eggs untouched or move them somewhere the babies can hatch out in safety.

Please support our 2021 Christmas Appeal – share with your friends and family, post on social media, set up a Fundraising page or Donate Now.  Thank you!

 

 

 

 

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