Indigenous people in the Amazon have a profound relationship with the plants that constitute their habitat. They depend on them for food, medicine, building material, and even spiritual support.
In 1993, Teresa Shiki, an expert herbalist of the indigenous Shuar Nation, and two French women, Laurence Lebrun and Noemi Paymal, formed the Omaere Foundation and bought 15 hectares (38 acres) of mostly cattle pasture, with the goal of reforesting with the most important plants for Amazonian peoples and educating students, travelers, and people in general about traditional cultures and their uses of plants. Now it is a forest called the Omaere Ethnobotanical Park.
Omaere is a word in the Waorani language that means nature of the forest. It is located on the edge of Puyo, capital of the province of Ecuador with the most forest and the most cultural diversity. Education is the key to changing the consciousness of the population to protect and defend water and the whole biosphere that nourishes everything: the plants, the birds, fish, lizards and monkeys,as well as us humans, so the project was established on an easily accessible site on the edge of town.
Chris Canaday, a biologist from California, met Teresa in 1999, joined the foundation, and currently coordinates the Omaere Park. He brings to the project an emphasis on birds, biodiversity, and ecological sanitation. EcoSan is one of the easiest ways to reduce people’s impact on the environment, by hygienically putting nutrients back in the soil instead of contaminating rivers, a key part of building a sustainable society.
Volunteer Tasks and Responsibilities:
The volunteer program at the Omaere Ethnobotanical Park is somewhat unstructured and oriented toward keeping this beautiful botanical park running as well as attending to the unpredictable arrival of tourists and other visitors. As tourists roam the park, they learn about the plants and their medicinal properties, as well as conservation methods to protect the rainforest, limit water pollution, and improve the sanitation systems that are damaging the region’s rivers.
As a volunteer, you will learn about the plants and their medicinal properties, as well as the conservation and sanitation methods that Chris Canaday has spent his scientific career learning, innovating, and then educating others to create a greater awareness about this issue.
At times, on special conservation programs, volunteers may have the chance to help setup sustainable sanitation systems in indigenous communities of the area, to improve the health of the region’s rivers. Most activities, however, involve maintaining the Oemere Ethnobotanical Park, and environmental education programs can be run with the initiative of the volunteers.
The volunteer director and founder of the Oemere Ethnobotanical Park, Chris Canaday from California, one of the world leaders in UDDT’s who has made it his life’s mission to improve water sanitation and human waste disposal in the Amazon basin of the Ecuadorian orient.
The Volunteer Perfect for this Program:
We expect volunteers to be self-starters, responsible, punctual, flexible and easy-going, otherwise we reserve the right to suspend their stay.
Omaere welcomes volunteers, interns, and researchers who want to help us:
– guide tourists and maintain the Park
– start fires in the traditional houses to make visits more authentic and to conserve the roofs
– collect firewood
– reproduce plants and remove weeds
– help prepare natural medicine
– aid Amazonian communities in the construction of ecological dry toilets
– contribute to the conservation and sustainable development of the Region.
– interested botanists can help update the inventory of plant species in the Park
Price per month:
Volunteers who stay on-site contribute $1 per night to help with utilities (plus a suggested donation of $100). This works out at just under $7 per day.
Minimum Time Spent Volunteering:
– Volunteers need to commit for a minimum of one month
– Volunteers need to cover their expenses for transport and food (kitchen facilities are provided).
A limited number of persons may stay in rustic rooms within the Park, or we can help themfind places to stay in the city of Puyo, if they prefer. Work is from Tuesday to Sunday, from 9 to 5, with an hour for lunch. Volunteers should limit their personal activities to their free time.