Wheel Tales Bamboo Houses and Nutritional Forests

This project is to build a Rotary community for victims of the 2016 earthquake – out of bamboo.
Dan Smith

Dan Smith

A passion for podcasting to tell the world about the great things Rotary is doing.

Do you remember the campfire song “Kumbaya? My LORD, Kumbaya”. Well there is a real place called [K]Cumbaya in Ecuador. And of course it has both a Rotary and Rotaract Club. I was invited to attend the club’s online meeting with a remarkable 86% of the members in attendance. This is the “little club that does” with only eleven members, yet the Club Rotario de Cumbaya has some very big projects:

Bamboo Homes – This project is to build a Rotary community for victims of the 2016 earthquake – out of bamboo. Funds were raised with a TED-Talk style live event. Next February, Rotarians and volunteers will build the first house in the Rotary Village and then will apply for a Global Grant to build a whole community, including entrepreneurial support for battered women. They are working with CAEMBA, a non-profit that has built more than600 homes in the most difficult areas of Ecuador. Click here to watch a video when the TV show “The Fixers” came and helped build a community center: 

On Dec. 5-7. I continue my Rotary travels to Esmeraldes on the coast to record a team that is traveling from Florida to build some homes. It will provide an opportunity to hear first hand how this project impacts both the donors and the community.

Another incredible Rotaract Project we are covering is a Nutritional Forest within the Ecuadorian Amazon.  This project has so many firsts:  This the first year Rotaract clubs can sponsor projects and the first year Rotary is including the environment an an Area of Focus. This is an eight-year project with a goal to propose to sustainably improve the quality of life of the people in the Ecuadorian Amazon by an agroforestry initiative to plant 12,500 trees in five Kichwa communities. The objectives include

  1. establishing a reduction in malnutrition
  2. improving the quality of the average income per family, and
  3. reducing the carbon footprint.

For this project, an alliance between Rotary, Red Forestal and Yakum has been formed as the biggest reforest Foundation in Ecuador. It will adopt the Food Forest technique to focus on reforesting with endemic species in the area and planting food-producing species to achieve food sovereignty. “We are not only developing a sustainable project in Ecuador, but also proving a scalable project model that can run into South American countries with similar characteristics where Amazonian populations can be benefited with an improvement in their nutrition rates and income per family.”

Ecuador use to have massive forests that provided everything people needed to survive — food, shelter, medicine. What we call “supper food” at one time grew all over the Amazon. But now those forests are gone. The people are starving and suffering from malnutrition. This is not just a tree planting project, but a “nutritional forest” planted by the indigenous people themselves. As you can see in these images, the whole village is working together to build their own future. (You can tell this is really an Amazonian community by the stylin’ rubber boots).

Since I have been in Ecuador, the group Yakun (Howling Monkeys) has built nurseries in three Kichwa communities. This is the first step to building the nutritional forest. They have kept a journal with images and comments as they go from village to village (have a lot more images if you like). Accountability is critical to the success of this project. They are training villagers to map the entire forest. You will be able to watch your trees grow via satellite. If over the years something happens and the trees do not grow, they will go back and plant new ones.

In the middle of December I have been invited to go to the Amazon and record the sounds of the people and the forest for a podcast so that you can experience actually being there – without the rubber boots.