Yachana is our partner in the rainforest, dedicated to finding sustainable solutions to the challenges facing the Ecuadorian Amazon region. Yachana is a Quichua indigenous word that means “a place for learning.” This partner works with rainforest communities to improve education, develop community-based medical care, establish sustainable agricultural practices, provide environmentally sustainable economic alternatives and conserve the rainforest. Their mission is to reverse the spiral of impoverishment and environmental degradation that is ravaging the people and tropical forests of the Amazon.
In 2005 Yachana opened a model farm project and high school for the students along the Napo Valley. Forty percent of the young people in this area do not finish sixth grade. Only eight percent go to high school and of that amount only two percent finish. Yachana felt that it was essential that an educational program offer these young men and women options in practical education that dealt with the realities of their lives. The high school opened in Sept. 2005 with sixty students. Thirty attend class at one time. These students spend twenty-one days at the school and return to their communities for twenty-one days as the second group arrives. Dormitories and meals are provided and classes are conducted in basic subjects as well as agriculture, forestry, ecology, and tourism. The students spend part of their school day working in the model farm, learning agriculture and ecological principles first hand. In this process, the students manage and produce all of their own food. The staff at the school report that this model is working well.