The Women Saving the Rainforest
This International Women's Day, we want to put the spotlight on the inspirational women we work with across all levels of our business, especially those who are central to the work of our rainforest preservation partner Cool Earth.
From a local jewellery-making women's cooperative in the Awajún to the pioneering Adelaida Bustmante in the Asháninka community, read on for our round up of the most inspirational women helping to save the rainforest across Peru.
Adelaida Bustamante, Asháninka Project
Adelaida was born in the Cutivereni village, in the heart of Cool Earth’s Asháninka partnership in Peru. As daughter of the Cutivereni Chief, Cesar Bustamante, Adelaida’s passion for helping others started young. Like so many young people form the village, when Adelaida was just a teenager she went to the nearest town to find work. Even though Satipo is just six hours away, it is an expensive journey by river boat and Adelaida rarely returned to her village.
Eventually, Adelaida became one of the few young women who bravely left the village to train as a nurse in Cuba. On her return to Cutivereni, Adelaida teamed up with Cool Earth to work as a health promoter, making a difference to the future of hundreds of local families. This wonder woman takes a pivotal role in the community health and sanitation programme run by Cool Earth, and has also helped spread her knowledge and skills to women in neighbouring villages. Thanks to Cool Earth’s support, Adelaida has been able to deliver life-saving materials and community health training sessions to over 100 families.
Both Adelaida and her sister Chabucca also play leading roles in Jeto, an all-women cooperative built to help women gain access to their own finances and provide for their family. It’s often a challenge to balance the need for progress in areas such as healthcare and nutrition with cultural traditions and norms. However, thanks to community champions like Adelaida and Chabucca, there is a real, lasting change for women in Cool Earth’s Asháninka partnership.
AMARNO, Awajún Partnership
AMARNO are a group of inspirational women in Cool Earth’s Awajún partnership who are saving rainforest with their artisan jewellery, made from seeds found in the forest. Founder Balbina Paukai reflects on the origins of this co-operative: “We used to get together to cook. Then, we decided to start making jewellery for sale, so that we could support our families and educate our children. There were just ten of us working under a little thatched roof.”
Balbina and her fellow mothers used Cool Earth funding to form a cooperative, increased capacity, and improved their links to market. They’re now selling their jewellery in both Lima and abroad. The income from this jewellery means that families in Cool Earth’s Awajún project are making more money then they’d get from selling their trees to loggers. But that’s not the best bit.
Since its establishment, the group has gone from strength to strength. AMARNO is now one of the Amazon’s flagship indigenous artisan groups. But these women have bigger ambitions. They want to make sure they can achieve the same goals as any successful business. So Cool Earth is helping to provide accountancy training, and thanks to Rosa Paucai, some will be trained to use laptops to boost their marketing skills. With the project working so well, Cool Earth are keen to involve other villages in similar successes, and are hoping that the Asháninka’s Jeto co-operative will go from strength to strength in the not too distant future.