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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


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.


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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Amazon Smile Donates with every time you shop online

Raise Free Funds for Children of Colombia with Amazon Smile

Did you know you can raise free funds for Children of Colombia every time you shop online with Amazon Smile? It’s free and very simple to do.

AmazonSmile is the same Amazon you know. Same products, same low prices, same services.

Just click Amazon Smile or sign in with your existing Amazon account to get started.  Select Children of Colombia as your chosen charity and Amazon donates 0.5% of the net purchase price of all your online purchases automatically.  You don’t have to do anything else – just carry on shopping as usual.  And with so many special deals and bargains this Black Friday weekend, what are you waiting for?

You can also raise free funds when you shop online with Give As You Live.  Give As You Live works with top UK High Street brands, supermarket chains and major travel agents, insurance and service companies to give up to 4% of your online spend.  Again, once you’ve signed up you don’t have to do anything more to know that you are helping very poor and vulnerable children every time you buy online.

So whether you are doing your Christmas gift shopping online this year or ordering food and drink for the holiday period – or booking a bit of winter sun in the New Year – please sign up to Give As You Live and Amazon Smile and help raise free funds for Children of Colombia.

Free donations with every online shop
Sign up to Give as You LIve and raise free donations with every online purchase for Children of Colombia and

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Free donations with every online shop

Bag a Bargain and Boost Donations this Black Friday

Raise free donations and bag a bargain every time you shop online this Black Friday by signing up to Give as You Live.
Whether you love it or loathe it, Black Friday is back for another year. Officially, the big buying weekend runs from Friday 26 November to Cyber Monday on 29 November. But many top UK retailers are getting in ahead of the game and already offering thousands of offers and deals to keen-eyed shoppers.
If you are looking for a bargain or want the best deals on your Christmas presents this year, sign up to support Children of Colombia via @giveasyoulive and generate free donations on any online purchases you make at over 5,500 top retailers. >
It’s completely free and once signed up you can raise free donations every time you shop.
Want to find out more? Go to for all full details.
And get the Give As You Live Donation Reminder App for your phone or laptop – a little pop up that appears every time you visit a participating retailer’s website – just so you don’t miss a chance to raise free donations with every online shop for Children of Colombia.

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Downtown Bogota

Fenix Students Facing Up to Hard Times in Bogota

]The latest report from Fundación Fenix highlights the achievements of some very brave young women who continue to work hard and give one another mutual support against a background of Covid, social unrest, violence and personal family problems.  The Bogotá-based charity supports vulnerable young women from abusive backgrounds. It helps them to fulfil their potential and create a better future through full-time education, mainly in the health and social care sectors where they can use their new skills to help society in general.

Directors Tim and Beatriz write:

“The stress and anxiety generated by this long drawn-out pandemic, compounded by lack of jobs, increased poverty and growing violence on the streets, have taken a toll on everyone, but they have also pushed many Fénix girls to think more deeply about their roles in society, their future and their capacity to care for others.

“Some have been energized by the situation and become even more determined to excel in their studies or their jobs and to help support people even worse affected by the crisis.

“Lizeth Angélica says: “Our sense of humanity and solidarity has flourished unexpectedly . . . whilst studying has helped me to center all my energy and think more deeply about things that make me ask questions, which I enjoy: I want to learn more and to be able to offer coherent contributions, to debate better . . . studying Social Work has, I feel, allowed me to connect more with myself and with the context in which I live, to begin to understand the causes of many problems”.”

Fenix has found that girls who have felt abandoned, unwanted or abused can flourish with the right support and encouragement.   With someone – or a group of people – who care about her, have faith in her abilities and interest in her progress a girl who has grown up knowing poverty and abuse  can find motivation, self belief and the confidence and courage to face the toughest personal, academic and social challenges.

When you showed confidence in me I began to feel confidence in myself” (Viviana, now a doctor fighting Covid).

Follow the link to read the full report and catch up with the Fenix girls’ personal journeys:

Fénix 2021 mid-year report[11972

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Celebrating Biodiversity Worldwide

May 22 was Worldwide Day of Diversity – celebrating the wonderful and fascinating variety of life on earth.  There are around 1.2 million known species of animals and plants but scientists estimate that there could be as many as 7 million waiting to be identified.  Many of these are invertebrates such as fungi and bacteria but there are still mammals being discovered.  More than 53 new species of primates have been identified since 2000.

The world is vast and there are many environments that we are only just beginning to explore.   These including remote rainforest canopies such as those in the Colombian Amazon, cloud forests and oceanic trenches.

The 2019 Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Service estimates that around 1 millions animal and plant species are threatened with extinction, many within decades.  Often the ones we hear about as being at risk are the big mammals like elephants, tigers, giant pandas, and whales.  But there are many plants, trees, invertebrates, reptiles, fish and amphibians that are also listed as at risk but don’t hit the headlines.. They don’t make as great a media picture to put on the news but they are just as important.

Fundación Natütama is a Colombian NGO that has been working to protect endangered species in the Colombian Amazon since 2005.  Working with indigenous communities along the River Amazon near Puerto Puerto Nariño, it aims to show local fishermen and villagers how they can protect Amazonian wildlife while living and working in
the same environment. Natütama also runs a conservation monitoring programme with local fishermen to gather information about wildlife numbers, distribution and trends with the aim of identifying and preventing potential threats. Monitored endangered species include the Amazonian manatee, Amazon River Dolphin (Pink Dolphin), Two-Toed Sloth, Amazonian River turtles and Boa Constrictors.

Biodiversity_Children of Colombia-2



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New electric hospital style beds bought thanks to donations from Children of Colombia

Hurrah – New Beds Delivered!

Exciting news – the new hospital-style electric beds have finally been delivered to the Luz y Vida children’s home in Bogotá purchased thanks to your generous donations to Children of Colombia!

The beds are electrically operated and adjustable to different positions to raise the patient’s back or legs or the mattress height and make it easier for carers to attend to the child’s needs.  They have IV (Intravenous Therapy) stands and custom-built mattresses to help prevent bedsores and improve patient comfort.  They will help the dedicated carers at Hogares Luz y Vida to provide better care and comfort for some of the very sick children who live at the home in downtown Bogotá.

Luz y Vida Director Sister Valeriana Martin has kept us informed of each step in the acquisition process from the initial purchase order and is providing copies of all important documents including receipts, guarantees and national health permits to make sure the process is transparent and we can see where every penny of the money raised is going.

“With great joy we share that after a long wait and formalities, we have received the electric beds!  We already have them in the home; we are just waiting for (technicians) to come and assemble them and provide an induction for their use and care,” writes Valeriana.

“Con gran alegría les compartimos que luego de una larga espera y trámites, nos llegaron las camas eléctricas, ya contamos con ellas en el Hogar, sólo quedamos a la espera de que puedan venir a realizar el armado e inducción para su uso y cuidado; como soporte de ello nos permitimos enviar adjunto los soportes de legalización, factura, garantías permisos de los equipos por parte de la autoridad nacional de sanidad y equipos médicos.”

Education is important at Luz y Vida children's care home in Bogota

It has been a long wait as Colombia is experiencing serious problems.  The staff at Luz y Vida are coping not only with the challenge of caring for very vulnerable children and young people during the Covid-19 pandemic, but also the public protests, marches, strikes and civic unrest that have resulted in massive disruption and violent clashes between police and protesters.

“These two situations have kept us in constant confinement and created difficulties regarding health care and the supply of basic household items due to the closure and blockades of the national road network.  We continue to strive to ensure decent care and quality of life for these children, so we have been able to overcome these circumstances, ensuring timely service and meeting the primary needs of our children, adolescents and young people.”

Currently, Hogares Luz y Vida provides residential care for 230 children and young people who live in their two bright, loving and happy  homes – one in Bogotá and the other in the countryside outside the city for more the more able-bodied.  A further 100 children are enrolled in their external education programmes.Samuel Galvez supports Children of Colombia

A very special thank you goes to Samuel and Gabriel Gelvez-Zapata, two little boys in Cambridge, UK, who set up their own Just Giving page to support Children of Colombia’s Bed Appeal and raised over £700 towards the total.

We will keep you posted as soon as we have more news and pictures of the beds in use!


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