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Tampa Couple helps Angels of the Amazon in the Peruvian Jungle | Community Spirit

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Tampa Couple helps Angels of the Amazon in the Peruvian Jungle
Tampa Couple helps Angels of the Amazon in the Peruvian Jungle

Tampa, Florida-- A local woman shares here experience in the Amazon Jungle, where she spent a week learning about the area from a local member of the Angels of the Amazon non-profit group.

After reading of her experience, you'll have access to information on how to plan a trip of your own:

Many of us end up in the Amazon Jungle for one of three reasons: wildlife research, adventure or escape. I confess that for me, it was the latter. It was a time in my life where my home, professional and romantic life all flew south – and so did I. I was invited by Manatee County resident, Mary Standifer, one of the Board of Directors for Angels of the Amazon (a nonprofit providing aid to those living in a remote region of the Amazon Jungle), to accompany her on a trip that was being guided by Amazonian Expeditions (an eco-tourism group with offices located in Tampa).

With nothing to lose and little time to prepare, I soon found myself on a boat heading to a lodge in the Tahuayo River basin. I am now convinced that you cannot experience an adventure such as this one without coming back … changed.

My week was spent hiking through the Amazon rainforest, swimming with pink dolphins, sampling freshly caught piranha, zip-lining through the canopy, meeting with Pasquita – the Shaman of the Chino Village, catching glimpses of Tamarins in the wild and relaxing in the hammock room of the lodge while listening to soft rainfall.

Without the Internet, TV and other modern conveniences, it provided just what I needed to reflect on my life and renew my spirit. It also gave me the chance to explore and appreciate the diversity of this natural world and even visit the then-new Tahuayo River Amazon Research Center (TRARC).

The surrounded villages seemed unaffected by the influence of the fast-paced world around them, and their modest standard of living will make you appreciate how rich our Western society really is.

When I returned to states, I drove down Manatee Avenue in Bradenton, temporarily overwhelmed by the flashing streetlights, noise from traffic and bustle of everyday life. I stopped into the local grocery store to fill my refrigerator, remembering the market in one of the villages in the jungle that we visited by boat – complete a sparse assortment of canned goods and little else. Now, I stood in the produce section of the Sweetbay staring at the sheer volume of fruits and vegetables to pick and choose from as I wished – in many cases, with several varieties of the same item. I began to cry …

At the time, I was working on my first children’s yoga book in what would become the Acting Out Yoga series. After my trip, I rewrote the entire story to take place in Peru, and renamed it Harvir in the Amazon, dedicating a percentage of the book’s profits to Angels of the Amazon.

Who Are the Angels of the Amazon?

They are the more than 8,000 ribereños – or, the indigenous people of the Tahuayo River basin. The Tahuayo is a tributary in a remote area of the upper Amazon River in Peru, 100 miles from Iquitos, the nearest city. It is accessible only by boat. Surrounded by the dense Amazon Jungle, the ribereños communities lack ready access to health care, education and economic opportunity.

Founded by Executive Director, Dolly Arevalo Beaver in 2007, The Angels of the Amazon (AoA) foundation is a nonprofit whereby 100% of the donations go directly to providing aid to these communities. A native of the Peruvian Amazon, Dolly Beaver works alongside her husband, tropical biologist Dr. Paul Beaver to bring medical and health care, educational assistance and economic programs to these indigenous people. Their efforts are supported by Amazonian Expeditions, a top-ranking eco-tourism company that was originally founded by Dr. Beaver in 1981, with offices located in Iquitos and in Tampa, Fla.

Last week, I had lunch with Mary Standifer and a very energetic Dolly Beaver, who enthusiastically told me stories from the jungle and outlined all that Angels of the Amazon has accomplished since its beginnings in 2007.

“What are you most proud of?” I asked.

“I am proud of the fact that we are empowering women by enabling them to become educated and financially independent,” she answered. “We are helping each of them find their voice.”

What Angels of the Amazon Has Accomplished since 2007

  • The Angels of the Amazon foundation has since partnered with the medical clinic in the Esperanza Village. It is now considered the best rural clinic in Peru’s Amazon region, and the only clinic that supports the health care needs of the ribereños people. The support of the Esperanza Clinic is one of AoA’s most important initiative.
  • AoA currently provides school supplies, desks, chairs and books to elementary schools in this region of the world, in addition to hiring tutors and making sure each child has a healthy breakfast.
  • AoA offers a scholarship program where students with academic potential are matched with US-based donors who make it possible for these students to attend high school, technical schools and universities.
  • Many women in the Tahuayo River basin are active participants in the Asociation de Artesanos, “Manos Amazonicas”, an economic initiative where artisans use renewable resources (such as palm fibers) to create handmade arts and crafts. These crafts not only keep the culture and tradition of this community alive, but also help provide a sustainable income.
  • AoA supports conservationism, and hires members of the local community to provide a census of wildlife population. Both Angels of the Amazon and Amazonian Expeditions encourage environmental and anthropological studies, research and long-term conservationism. The Tahuayo River Amazon Research Center (TRARC) was founded in 2007 to continue these efforts.

I remarked my amazement at how part-time Tampa and part-time jungle residents, Dolly and Paul Beaver have managed to accomplish so much in such a short time; and Dolly humbly acknowledged that they have help – help from medical doctors, teachers, members of the community and – of course – from AoA supporters and the eco-adventurers who take guided tours.

For my part, I will always be grateful for my jungle adventure, and it’s a trip I strongly recommend to anyone who has the opportunity to go.

To learn more about taking an eco-tour with Amazonian Expeditions, visit PeruJungle.com. To learn more about Angels of the Amazon, visit AngelsoftheAmazon.org.

*Printed with permission of Birdland Media Works.


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