Friends and supporters,
With your help, we’ve had another successful year working in the Brazilian Pantanal! Over the past 12 months, the Juara Foundation offered health and English lessons in several local schools, helped keep one rural school open, expanded our music education programs to more students than ever, and provided new access to solar energy in remote communities. Read below for some more of the highlights from this past year’s work!
Looking forward to 2017, we’ve got many exciting things in the works. English and health lessons will continue and grow. Engineering teams will be back, this time installing weather and climate monitoring technology around the region. We’re also asking for your help: Juara Foundation is looking to raise $5,450 to support the expansion of our Pantanal Music Exchange project.
For the past year the Juara Foundation has partnered with the Ciranda Institute, a state-wide youth music program in Mato Grosso, to provide regular year-round music lessons to the children at the Nazaré orphanage in Poconé (check out the history of the project here!). I’m excited to announce that this past October, we moved into a larger space at the Poconé SESC (a community and cultural center) and now offer lessons to other local children alongside the children from Nazaré! Over the next year we plan to grow the program up to as many as 60 students. The kids already presented their first recital last Tuesday (check out a short video!), and will continue to give regular performances, as well as follow the Ciranda Institute’s technique, theory, and examination curriculum.
In order to keep this partnership going, we’re looking to raise $5,450. This equates to $475 (R$1,500) a month for teacher salaries, method books, and recital costs for ten months (a full year with school breaks), and $700 for instrument repairs, strings, and rosin. The funds will ensure that all students get year-round lessons from professional Ciranda Institute teachers (many of whom started in programs just like this in other parts of Mato Grosso!) and have the resources and opportunities to succeed.
We’ll be accepting donations through our website as well as through our Facebook fundraising page, where you can also find more information. All donations are tax-deductible. Your support was crucial in getting the music program to where we are today, and I’m confident that we can continue to provide a bright musical future now for even more kids in Poconé!
Read on for more updates from 2016:
This year we were excited to welcome Gregory Ewing to the Juara board. During Greg's undergrad at the University of Michigan, he was an active member of the student organization Pantanal Partnership and has experience mentoring student design teams. Greg brings to the board his years of experience working in the Pantanal and throughout Brazil. Since joining the board, Greg's efforts have focused on mentoring students in the Pantanal Partnerhsip and integrating the work of Juara and the Pantanal Partnership. Greg is excited to advise upcoming student projects installing weather and climate instrumentation in the Pantanal.
The one room school at Fazenda Jofre Velho, a large ranch on the edge of the remote Cuiabá River outpost of Porto Jofre, is the only school for nearly 100 miles, and caters to the children of local fishermen, guides, and ranch hands. This past summer, though, a change in management of the Ranch lead to a three month shortage in funding for the end of the school term, and left the future of the school uncertain. Juara stepped in to fund essentials during the gap, volunteered time teaching (more on our teaching projects below!), and worked with ranch management to assure the value in keeping the school open. Through the many specialties of our board and volunteers, Juara can offer expertise in language, health, and school psychology that would be otherwise out of reach for a single teacher at a rural school. We’ll be continuing and growing our relationship with the school at Jofre Velho in the years to come!
Our partnership with the Ciranda Institute includes not only lessons in Poconé, but work with their youth orchestras in other cities throughout Mato Grosso, reaching close to 2000 young music students. Alex spent several weeks on the road with Ciranda this summer teaching and performing in Cuiabá, Várzea Grande, Rondonopolis, Nova Brasilândia, and Campo Verde. We are currently working out plans to bring more professional musicians this coming year for master classes, workshops, and as featured soloists with the state youth orchestra.
One of the most important aspects of conservation in the Pantanal is ensuring a robust system of local ownership and involvement in the tourism industry. Tourism is better for tourists and better for long term protection of the region when presented by people with a deep personal connection to and knowledge of the land. When more and more tourists come from abroad, though, this is only possible when locals have the required language skills.
This past summer, University of Michigan education student Eli Leiva designed curriculum and taught beginning English lessons to both young students and adults at the Jofre Velho school and ranch. Juara board members are continuing instruction after Eli’s departure. In August, the students were already putting their English skills to good use when National Geographic photographer Steve Winter stayed at the ranch. Winter, whose photos help promote big cat conservation, was guided and facilitated by several of our adult English students.
University of Michigan student volunteers Minna and Julien worked in schools in Poconé and Cangas, Mato Grosso as well as at Fazenda Jofre Velho teaching about several public health topics, including dietary health risks like diabetes and hypertension, hand washing and sanitation, and mental health. This group also aided Chris and Ethan in their continued efforts to teach CPR and emergency first-aid to caregivers in the region. Rural hospitals and remote fazedas are often short on experienced staff, and this training is crucial when doctors and full-service hospitals could be several hours away.
From project leader Chris: “what may have been most impressive was their collective ability to bridge language barriers in order to creatively and effectively present their information. Minna brought spices into the classroom, allowing students to experiment with alternatives to traditional food additives like salt and sugar. To teach proper hand washing, Julien facilitated a classroom experiment where several students washed their hands in one of two conditions: either bar soap and water – or water alone. Students then used a spray known as Glo Germ to observe the bacteria still present on their hands.”
In remote communities along the Paraguay river, electricity is typically only available via generators and boated in diesel fuel, which is both dirty and expensive. This past summer, Juara sent a team of three engineering students from the University of Michigan to spend several weeks in the river community of São Lourenço and the Fazenda (ranch) Dois Corações providing solar powered lanterns and a larger solar refrigerator system. Lanterns are important for both safety and access to reading and education, and refrigeration enables a safer and healthier diet. After initial installation, the team spent time better getting to know the people in these communities, teaching use and maintenance of the systems, and learning how to adjust the project to best meet local needs. We’ll be back on the Paraguay River in 2017 to study the use of these technologies over the past year, and to continue to expand access.
Juara Foundation president Ethan Shirley spent nearly all of 2016 in the Pantanal, supported by a Fulbright research grant to study fishing law compliance. From Ethan, “The frequency of noncompliance with fishing rules varies with degree of trust in biologists who wrote the rules. That means that in order to effectively protect the Pantanal, there needs to be more interaction between scientists and locals.” To bridge this gap, Juara often brings biologists and conservation science lessons into schools throughout the region, and on several occasions has organized school field trips out to our field site, the Pantanal Center for Education and Research, where students can see the Pantanal and the people who study it up close.
Now with larger batteries, redesigned motor mount, and a whole slew of new high-tech gauges (two voltmeters, a cheap cellphone and a meat thermometer) on the dashboard, Belezinha, our completely solar powered VW van, crushed her previous speed record, topping out at over 23mph. Belezinha has already driven several trips shuttling kids to and from school, and may soon see daily use as a school bus, an important and needed role ideally suited to her range and top-end speed.
*for solar powered cars in the Poconé municipality, on a slightly downhill course.
– The Juara Foundation Board –
|Ethan Shirley - President||Alex Carney - Communications|
|Chris Hannaford - Vice President||Greg Ewing - Vice President|
|Julie Bateman - Treasurer||Alistair Hayden - Secretary|