Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Library's Fall Newsletter

CCC Amazon Library
Fall 2011

Dear Library Friends.

Greetings from the Amazon! I hope this newsletter finds you all enjoying crisp fall weather somewhere, it is hot here of course!  Things have been busy at the library since Nancy’s departure in July.  For me personally, the past few months have been amazing.  I feel so fortunate to be able to continue Nancy’s legacy.   I came to the Amazon for the first time as a teenager and was immediately hooked.  I returned many times with my mom, a teacher who brings students to the Amazon every two years, but I have always wanted to stay.  It has been my dream since I was 17 to live and work here, and it has turned out to be more than I could have ever imagined.  I love the beauty of the rainforest, (I have the most breathtaking “commute” to work of anyone I know), but the children have stolen my heart! Their laughter as we play a game or as we read a book, fills me with joy.  So, thank you Nancy, for starting this dream, and thank you to all of the friends of the library who have continued to support this dream over the years.  I am so grateful for the children’s sake, but also for my own!  I look forward to being a part of the library for many years to come. 

Thank you,
Megan Thomas

New Reading Corners

The last of our 3 new reading corners was completed in August with students from Global Explorer’s Learning AFAR program.  Students from Chicago, Houston, and New York City donated 1,500 books in a partnership with the Pearson Foundation called We Give Books.  For each book that the students read back home, a book was donated to the students in the Amazon, a great way to get everyone reading!  While visiting the Amazon the Global Explorers students completed service projects with CONAPAC in the communities of Santa Isabela, Manati I Zona, and Nuevo San Juan del Amazonas. In each community the students built book shelves to house the new books, and when the work was over the students had a chance to practice their Spanish, reading the new books with the children and playing soccer of course!  Thank you to Global Explorers for helping extend the library’s reach to these new communities. 

Music in the Schools Program

Our music program has expanded!  CONAPAC received a donation of 3 violins and a viola in April,  and as luck would have it, our fabulous music teacher, Angel Paz is also a talented violinist.  He has begun teaching a few sessions of violin lessons, staying an additional day in the jungle each week.  The choir just completed their second concert, during the community of Palmeras’ 25th anniversary celebration, accompanied by the guitar students and a flute student as well.   We are busy making arrangements for the final concert in Iquitos in December.  We hope to be able to continue this wonderful program in 2012!
Water Treatment Systems

By the end of 2011, both library branches will have mini-water treatment systems installed by CONAPAC to provide purified drinking water.  Thank you to the Fremont Michigan Rotary club for donating one of the water systems.  CONAPAC will conduct workshops at both libraries to teach about the importance of drinking clean water, as well as the maintenance and use of the systems.  We have been bringing bottled water to drink to the main branch, and Sapo Playa has been without drinking water.  Now, we will be able to treat water directly from the river and from our rain catchment system to drink.  We are also hoping to be able to install a rain catchment system in Sapo Playa for the dry months when the closest water is a half hour walk away.  We are also looking into the possibility of building ecological latrines at the Sapo Playa branch.

Field Trips

In September and October students from both library branches visited Iquitos.  In September, 18 primary school students traveled to Iquitos for the day, visiting the ACOBIA Manatee Reserve and the Quistococha Zoo.  Student fed baby manatees, they explored other Amazonian species at the zoo, and ended the day swimming in the Quistococha Lake.  In October, 9 high school students visited Iquitos for an overnight field trip.  Thank you to Carlos Acosta of the Hotel Acosta for donating two rooms for our students to stay in.  We visited the Iquitos School of Music, UNAP (the National University of the Peruvian Amazon), and SENATI (a national technical training school), and went to the movies that night. 
Jeyson and Robinho Feeding Manatees
Internet Class

Thanks to Explorama Lodge we are now able to offer internet classes to our advanced computing students! Once a week we walk to the Lodge with our laptops for class.  We started with the basics and have worked our way up to Facebook.  On Facebook the students have connected with students in the States who will be visiting Peru in 2012, not only giving them an opportunity to explore the technology, but also to practice their English! 

2012 Wishlist

In addition to our yearly operating costs including salaries and library maintenance, these are some projects we are interested in for 2012. If anyone would like to fund one of these projects, please contact me directly at Please remember that your donations are very important to continuing all of the library’s programs. Donations can be sent to the Detroit Zoo c/o Claire Lannoye at 8540 W. 10 Mile Road, Royal Oak, MI 48067, be sure to indicate that your donation is for the CCC Amazon Library.

2012 Projects At a Glance:
  •   Scholarships
  • A second mini water treatment system
  •  Rain catchment system for drinking water in Sapo Playa 
  • Ecological Latrines in Sapo Playa 
  • An outoor classroom maloca (gazebo) for the main branch

 Scholarships:  In 2012 we hope to be able to offer 3 scholarships for students who wish to continue their education in Iquitos.  We already have three great candidates from Yanamono and Palmeras.  Jhan Berty Saboya is from the community of Yanamono and has been coming to the library since he was a little boy, now he is 17 years old and getting ready to graduate.  Jhan Berty has expressed an interest in continuing to study English, a seed that Nancy planted long ago, and he would also like to study to be an electrician at Iquitos’ technical school, SENATI.  Jamileth Santana is 18 years old and from the community of Palmeras.  After growing up near the Clinica Yanamono, run by Dr. Linea Smith, Jamileth dreams of becoming a nurse and returning to Palmeras to work at the clinic.  Dr. Smith has shown a lot of support for Jamileth and is very excited at the possibility of having her return to help carry out the clinic’s mission.  Ariana Perez Hoyos is from the community of Yanamono.  She is 17 years old and would like to study English and Tourism.  Ariana is a very bright student and has been coming to the library for many years, often lending a hand with day to day activities.  Her cheerful and friendly personality is contagious, a trait that will take her far in tourism.

¿Maloca?:  In 2012 we are considering building a maloca, or thatched gazebo in the library’s yard.  The maloca would serve as great additional classroom space.  Currently, we use the teacher/volunteer house for all special classes, however, we also have two teachers living there most of the week!  The space available in the house is limited, and with the tin roof, it gets very hot in there! We would use the maloca for English class, choir practice, art and science activities, and of course reading too. 

Many Thanks!

Thank you to our beloved volunteer Sue Melvin, from Leicester England.  Sue was with us at the library for about two months, for the second year in row.  She was a huge help to me personally as I had various commitments that kept me from the library during the months she was here.  Thanks Sue, we hope to see you next year!

Thank you to Pam Bucur de Arevalo of Explorama Tours and Global Explorers for giving one of our students, 14 year old Andrea Asipali, the opportunity to participate in a Global Explorers student workshop.  Andrea spent the week with students from Houston, Texas and Dr. Phil Wittman, exploring the rainforest and making new friends.  Andrea would like to be a naturalist guide in the future, this was a great chance for her to see what being a guide is all about!

Fall in Peru (Well, Spring Really)

October was a busy month! I started the month with a quick trip to Lima to visit the immigrations office one last time.  After signing a few papers, waiting in line, taking a photo, and waiting some more, I became a resident of Peru!  It was actually a long process that involved a lawyer in Iquitos and one in Lima, as well as a previous visit to Lima to go to Interpol for fingerprints and dental records.  I now have my own Peruvian ID card that allows me to do just about anything a Peruvian can, but most importantly it allows me to stay in the country for five years and it allows me to be paid!  So, in October I celebrated my new residency, one year in Peru, and my first paycheck from CONAPAC!  My first year here flew by, I can hardly believe that I have been here that long, at the same time, those first months at Marcos’ house seem like they were ages ago!  

My Residency Card!

In October we took another field trip to Iquitos with students from the library, this time with high school students, overnight.  We arrived on a Friday and spent the day visiting different educational institutions in Iquitos. We went to Iquitos’ School of Music, to the Universidad Nacional de la Amazonia Peruana, and to a technical school called Senati.  In the evening we went to the movies and then went out for dinner.  

At the School of Music

The students stayed at a hotel near my house, a man who owns a different jungle lodge near the library donated 2 rooms in a hotel he owns in the city.  In the morning the students walked to my house for breakfast, spent an hour at an internet cafĂ©, and finished the morning swimming at a local pool before heading home. It was a lot of fun, I think the kids enjoyed seeing where I live in the city, and of course going to the movies, the school visits went well too, but they weren’t all that exciting!

Breakfast at My House

Also in October, the community across the creek from the Lodge, Palmeras, celebrated their 25 year anniversary.  They had a lot of special activities including a concert with the library's choir and their annual "Miss Palmeras" beauty pageant, where I was a judge!  It was a little weird to be judging a beauty pageant but it was very special to me that the community invited me to participate. 

The Library's Choir

The Miss Palmeras Contestants

We celebrated Halloween at the library, complete with a pumpkin brought especially for us all the way from Lima!  The kids had never celebrated Halloween, and they had never seen a pumpkin!  I read a book about pumpkins, passed out candy, including ghost suckers, we carved the pumpkin and watched King Kong.  We were going to watch E.T. however, of the 2 copies we have, one was only in English and French, and the other, a pirated copy, didn’t work!  I did show them a trick-or-treat scene from E.T. to give them a better idea of what Halloween is like. I really enjoyed our celebration, although I forgot the candy corn that my mom sent!  Not to worry, we ate it later!

Ghost Suckers!
With our Pumpkin!

November started a little rocky for me, I was sick for about 4 days, nothing serious, just parasites, but still miserable.  I got to spend a few hours in a clinic in Iquitos with attached to an IV. Luckily the clinic is right across the street from Explorama’s office so I had a few visitors!

This past weekend was the library’s annual spelling competition.  Fernando, the library’s administrator, handled all of the arrangements since he has helped prepare for the competition for many years. We had students from 8 communities compete, from elementary and high school.  In total we had about 170 participants (students plus a few teachers and parents from each community).  In the morning the students took a written spelling test to qualify for the oral spelling competition in the afternoon, and they also competed in an essay contest.  It was a great day, not raining but not too hot either.  People from all over came to watch the competition, setting up camp in the library’s yard, hanging their hammocks in trees and under the library, selling popsicles and other food and drinks too.  We had cash prizes for the winners and prizes for their teachers as well.  All of the students who qualified for the afternoon’s competition also received books as prizes.  It was fun watching my students compete, luckily I was not a judge, I definitely wanted my kids to win!  My students did pretty well, the winner was one of the students who has been coming to the library for many years.  

Getting Ready to Start the Competition
"Hanging Out" Under the Library
Betania, She came to watch her brothers compete!
The Final 3! Andrea, (the one with the braid) took 1st Place!

This week I have been busy helping out with a large group of middle school students from Lima.  I am helping them with some activities at the Lodge as well as their service projects.  Next week begins CONAPAC’s annual end of the year evaluations, where we will visit all of the 57 communities CONAPAC works with over 2 weeks.  I will be spending Thanksgiving at Explornapo Lodge, no turkey for me this year!