This is the end of my interview with Adriana Bueno, Founder of Habitat Sur, in the Colombia Amazon. She tells us what is ahead, what’s working / not working and how we can help. In Part 1 and Part 2 she shared how this colorful “mobile” children’s bookstore/library on wheels was born, how tree cutting in the Amazon Rainforest affects us all and more. – Margarita Cramer
MC: What action do you want the reader of this blog to take?
AB: If you are reading this blog, go outside of your community, start looking around and get to know the people, talk to them, look for the most vulnerable or in need, ask them what can you do, how can you be helpful, what could you do that would make them have a better day and just simply get involved. Then start thinking what you could do together to make the day easier for someone else… Maybe in a week you would have five or six people thinking how you can work together to improve something affecting a whole block, in a month it would be a whole neighbourhood, in six months you would all be thinking what could you do to improve your city and in a year your country! Can you imagine every person in every country thinking what can I do to make the world better?
MC: If you could only do one thing this year, what would it be?
AB: The city of Leticia is experiencing a horrible crisis with waste management affecting the quality of life of everyone in Leticia, particularly kids. If I had to choose to do only one thing, it would be helping to organize the waste management system in the city. I would start from dignifying the important role of waste pickers and recyclers in our society, giving them better working conditions and including them in the model of waste collection, separation, reuse and recycle, which doesn’t exist in Leticia.
I’ve been working with a group of around 60 waste pickers and recyclers, getting to know how they work, what they need to improve their working and living conditions and how I can get help from different people and organizations.
MC: What would you like to accomplish in the next 12-18 months? How can others get involved?
AB: I would like to:
- Bring a good writer to Leticia to do creative writing workshops with the kids in the Bibliovan
- Have a few computers in the BiblioVan to play educational programs for the kids. Books are very heavy to ship from other cities to Leticia and the computers will help.
- Organize a local association of waste pickers and recyclers and start implementing the project.
- Start educating locals to stop cutting the trees in the rainforest and teach them to plant bamboo instead.
Did you know that although Rainforests are not the lungs of the earth (oceans are) they do produce about 20% of the oxygen in the world? The crucial role rainforests play is that they maintain the global rainfall and regulate climate patterns worldwide.
MC: What’s important to you at the moment?
AB: Consolidating Hábitat Sur, the non-profit organization I founded in August 2014 to work on local initiatives for the sustainable development of the Colombian Amazon. The BiblioVan and the Little Public Libraries were the first cultural initiatives of Hábitat Sur and the ones which sparked its creation. The other two projects are: 1) Habitat and Community Development and 2) Sustainable Habitat / Responsible Tourism.
MC: What’s working well for you at the moment?
AB: The BiblioVan is working beautifully and it makes me happy every day to see it visiting different communities in the city! The local police understand now how the BiblioVan has improved how they approach people and how it promotes positive and constructive, rather than repressive, interactions between the police and communities.
MC: What isn’t working well at the moment?
AB: I guess something I need to work on is that I don’t leave much time for myself. Somehow I feel life has already given me so much and I’ve been so blessed that this is my time to give, give and give. But I know I should take care a bit better of myself… That’s my other resolution for the next 12 months!
MC: What is the biggest obstacle that you are facing?
AB: Getting resources to be able to have a small team of people working permanently for Hábitat Sur’s initiatives. My weakest point is trying to show and tell others what is happening in the Amazon. Bring the eyes of the people to the beauty of the Amazon. It is difficult because of internet issues and I have no staff to help post in facebook, or manage the web site…
We are getting quite good at recruiting volunteers, and some paid temporary staff to work on the projects (particularly for the BiblioVan thanks to TPP!), but I do most of the work by myself and it’s starting to be quite a load!
MC: Anything else you would like to say that I didn’t ask you and which is important to you?
AB: I want to thank you for your interest in the BiblioVan and for highlighting it in your blog!! I hope you and a lot of people who read it want to come visit us in the jungle and help us take care of this special and wonderful place and its people!
MC: Thank you Adriana. It has been my pleasure and as always my honor to meet another loving compassionate person that TPP chose to receive seed money.
If you are interested in helping Habitat Sur, you can contact TPP or Adriana directly by visiting: www.construyecolombia.wordpress.com (choice to select English) or visit their Facebook page: facebook.com/habitatsur