My dad used to reference various quotes to try to instill wisdom in my brother and me—to which we responded by vigorously rolling our eyes and making faces, of course. One frequently referenced adage was “Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for life.” I never really saw this principle in practice until I visited the Arajuno Jungle Lodge. While there, I learned that the key to a healthy watershed is an investment in the people that depend on the land, animals, and waters you seek to protect.
The Arajuno Foundation projects create alternatives for the local indigenous communities so they don’t have to resort to environmentally destructive practices. A guides course equips locals to make money educating tourists about the rainforest instead of cutting down wood to sell from the nearby Reserve. Cooking courses and new kitchen facilities help to establish an eco-tourism industry in place of mining for gold in the riverbed. And community fish and turtle ponds create a sustainable food source, ensuring that the river isn’t bombarded with destructive fishing practices that use pesticides or dynamite. With Tom’s work, the future looks bright for the environment and people of the Arajuno River.
Sara Aminzadeh, San Francisco