Reminiscing on my childhood days


Juice making

Los pollitos dicen, pío, pío, pío,
cuando tienen hambre, cuando tienen frío.
La gallina busca el maíz y el trigo,
les da la comida y les da abrigo.
Bajo sus dos alas se están quitecitos,
y hasta el otro día duermen calentitos

Those members of the ASSETS team who took part in the project workshop in Peru between 22nd – 26th September had the good fortune to visit several of the study sites. One was several hours drive from Pucallpa in an area where oil palm plantations are rapidly replacing forest. We left this village with “la barriga llena y el corazón contento” (a full tummy and a happy heart), a well-known traditional Colombian proverb, no surprises there 🙂 after partaking of a fish soup (gamitana) and plantain feast served by our local host, all washed down with juice made from the fruit of local palms (aguajales). Our next stop was a community much closer to Pucallpa, which has no more access to forest resources and is suffering from severe soil degradation leading many families to leave the community to make a living elsewhere.

Arriving a little later than expected, we were slightly worried about the kind of welcome we would receive. These doubts were unfounded as on arrival, we were greeted by a very special welcoming party, none other than the community’s very own children school choir.

The children were all “full of beans” and in appreciation for the bunch of “uvas caimaronas” we shared with them on arrival, they treated us to their very own interpretation of “Los pollitos dicen”, a well-known traditional Latin-American children’s song, which I picked up during my school years in Venezuela. Who would have thought it? Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to be reminiscing about my Primary school years in the middle of the Peruvian Amazon!!

The whole week gave those who attended, the modellers, the social scientists and the team members working on location in the three countries (Malawi, Colombia, Peru), an excellent opportunity to discuss the current status of the project, take stock of what has already been achieved, and the effort we need to invest, if the team hopes to achieve everything it set out in the project proposal. As I was not hampered by communication barriers, I was in the privileged position of being able to speak directly with different members of the communities that José Sanchez Choy from our local partner, IIAP, arranged for the ASSETS team to visit. The main message that I have brought home with me is their awareness of the environmental challenges confronting them. They are all prepared to make the effort required to ensure their future and that of the environment in which they live, nevertheless they made us all very aware they need to survive under especially difficult circumstances, an exploitative economic and political environment, whilst at the same time fighting a hard battle in a tough and unforgiving environment.

I can’t but hope that we deliver and can’t thank enough José, Gisella, Martha, Cecilia, Lisseth, Ingrid, Carla and Madeleine for their hospitality and professionalism!!!

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