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Creating Alternative, Legal, and Sustainable Incomes

A working model from the Peruvian Amazon

Students meeting with VASI

Edgardo Gomez Pisco for VASI

Our nine communities lie halfway between Pucallpa and Iquitos in the Peruvian Amazon. Travel from a city is at least two days by fast boat and three or four days by the large ferryboats that carry everything from tractors and timber to farm animals, dried and frozen fish, and both legal and illegal wild animals. Our communities have no running water, no electricity, no sanitation systems, little access to health care, and essentially no Internet. The lack of sanitation and clean water contribute to the rapid spread of epidemics, and the lack of reliable transportation means that people frequently die from diarrheal diseases, snakebites, and other preventable or treatable diseases and accidents. And yet our remote communities are under immense pressure from outside: the combined effects of climate change and illegal and/or unsustainable activities like logging, palm oil farming, indiscriminate fishing, and coca growing by growers who have been forced out of other areas. Though the forest remains beautiful—in many places jaw-droppingly so—most teenagers say they have not seen the diversi …

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