When we started our operations, 11 years ago, we realized we could produce a significant positive impact on the riverine communities to which we have access. For this reason, we created a small program with the local women, to develop handicrafts that would allow them to benefit from our visits. About 5 women were committed to this effort at the beginning, but now there are at least 45 working women in each community.
We became the main buyers of their artworks, using them as part of the decoration on board all our cruises. That way, they are permanently displayed for all our guests, who can then buy them directly on board or during our visits to the communities.
It took time for the local women to believe that we would return regularly with our guests, but over the years we have managed to develop a solid and healthy relationship based on trust and communication. Now, they have their own malocas (communal houses) where they exhibit their artwork, they identify and differentiate themselves from other communities with names such as “The Butterflies of Yarapa”, and have representatives who are in charge of organizing their work. And their husbands help them by collecting the fibers, seeds and barks they use. So the entire community has come together for the common good.
The proceeds of the handicrafts we sell on board help us fund an annual program that provides school supplies for children and first aid kits to all the communities along our way.
We also work permanently with local guides, who are in charge of cleaning the hiking paths we use and give support to our on board guides, helping them to identify and find plants, insects and other fauna during our excursions in the rainforest. We hire them on a rotating basis, so every man in the community has the opportunity to be part of this effort.
Last but not least, the Amazonian fruits and fish we serve on board are often provided by riverine communities as well, creating a virtuous circle that benefits one and all.
We believe the best way to help our neighboring communities is by providing them with opportunities to work and integrating them in a productive way in our activities. In this way, we hope to further advance our already long and wholesome relationship with them.