An update from Niyanta Spelman, Rainforest Partnership Executive Director, from our partner community in Sani Isla, Ecuador:

What a difference six months makes!  The women have started wearing traje (traditional dress) and doing traditional dance performances for tourists.  They are also making small amounts of food for tourists to give them a more complete experience.  The women are going to show the process of making the artisan crafts to visiting tourists.  The women are using more than thirty kinds of seeds in the handicrafts they are making. Their demonstration chakra (the one acre lot) where they plant and grow yucca, plantain, and plants that will supply some of their seeds and fibers, is growing and is a source of pride for the women.

The women feel that their increase in jewelry sales in recent months is a direct result of these activities. A large group of about 30 people visited and bought $600 worth of goods in one day in late February and this has inspired the women a great deal.  Seeing direct results of their hard work.

Many changes have taken place in the group’s leadership and volunteers, including the election of a new president of the women’s organization.   The women are also in the process of electing a  new local coordinator for the project, and the lodge has placed a volunteer in the community to help the women with some of their initiatives, such as rotating shifts and cooking.  The women did a lot of this on their own, making important decisions to advance the project and that is a source of pride for them as much as for Rainforest Partnership.  And, I always enjoy spending my time with the women. Guadalupe is elegant and strong and I have admired Margarita from the first time I met her in 2009. It is incredible to see both women use their natural leadership skills so effectively, and bring several more women into the leadership circle.