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  • Writer's pictureLuis A Mazariegos

September 2023 - Empowering Women @ MPNR

Updated: Dec 22, 2023

Since the creation of the MPNR in the southwestern Andes of Antioquia, Fundación Bioconservancy has strived for local stakeholders to get involved in various activities that promote a sense of belongingness to the conservation project.

Up until recently, Fundación Bioconservancy had struggled to get a significant number of women involved. Most women at La Mesenia village remain in their homes; single ladies helping tend to their brothers and, married ones, to husbands and children.

Meeting with the women of La Mesenia village to socialize the tree nursery project. Appearing from left to right above, Diana Rendón, Lorena Rendón, Sofia Uribe, Monica Ruíz, Maria Isabel Rendón, Norelli Ruiz, Blanca Ruiz, Aracelly Agudelo, Adolfo Amezquita, Marleny Agudelo and Olga Lucia Agudelo with her daughter.

With the signing of an initial 30-year agreement with ClimeCo and Saving Nature in December 2022 to restore over 500 hectares of pasturelands, we created an opportunity for women to get directly involved in the conservation project and empower them to have a leading role in providing income for their families. Since the restoration project will require some 1 million trees, we devised and proposed work at home: the creation of native tree nurseries to be attended by the female members of the families. Fundación Bioconservancy would provide the necessary technical support and capital to establish such nurseries, and the needed transportation to the planting sites.

Carlos Mario Jaramillo has been a key stakeholder to transport trees by mule due to the road damages and challenges faced caused by the January 13th, 2023 avalanche.

During 2023, twelve nurseries have been established and nearly 100,000 native trees have been supplied for restoration activities. This translates into nearly 25,000 USD of income to those women that engaged in this project. Personally, this is one of our greatest achievements so far, as we are impacting positively the livelihoods of the local families and the community as a whole.

For instance, Blanca Ruiz can now provide medical treatment for her 30-year old daughter, Monica, who was born with a disability affecting her heart. Also, Blanca could finally build basic sanitary facilities for their home and is already planning to improve other areas.

For Nohelia Jaramillo (photo above) who endured many years of violence during the late 90’s, the MPNR community nurseries project has clearly made a positive impact in the region. She is elated to be able to have her own income source to support her family. Her youngest daughter, Alejandra, who will soon turn 18, will also participate in another project at MPNR, monitoring poison frogs, as well as migrator and endangered birds.

Olga Lucía, whose day typically begins by milking cows was undecided at first. Her husband, Jorge Ivan Uribe, runs a successful agriculture operation. Yet, she decided to participate and is now happy to use her income to support the studies of her elder daughter, Sofía, who travels weekly to the nearest town.

Luz Amparo, who also has two young daughters, Sara and Maria Isabel, 6-month and 13-year old, respectively, is significantly contributing to her family’s income. Her husband, Elkin Rendón, provides a “jornal” type income when work is available.

Aracely Agudelo, who lives with two brothers, Orlando and Arley, claims she feels empowered to have her own income and is excited to be able to build a home for herself to become more independent. Though a bit shy and hesitant at first, she has become very confident in her ability to grow trees for the project. In the photo from left to right, Brad Seely (ClimeCo), Aracelly Agudelo, Adolfo Amezquita (Fundación Bioconservancy) and Allyson Ulsh (ClimeCo) during a recent visit to the project.

Sisters, Juli and Lorena Rendon, decided to join forces and established a tree nursery together. That have produced over 15,000 trees, bringing an important contribution to their family that has many medical needs. Three members of their family, Don Otilio, their dad, has type-II diabetes, doña Lilia, their mom, is suffering from arthritis, and Ana, their youngest sister, suffered a brain injury at birth that left her impaired.

Fabiola Rendon, one of eldest participants, is a single mother. Her only son, Cristian, who is 21-years old, has worked part-time in our tree planting program. Fabiola’s source of income was mainly selling eggs laid by a half dozen hens she has in her garden. Now she has a complimentary income to improve her home.

Don Abelardo, a La Mesenia native that dedicated over 40 years to the Catholic Church in Jardín, and who returned to the village a few years ago, asked to be part of the nursery program. Having two adults, son and daughter, with disabilities, made us reconsider that this program can also provide much needed income and benefit such a fraternal individual who contributes to the wellbeing of the community.

Diana Rendon (photo left) who recently started a family with Jorge Jaramillo, one of our Park Rangers, and had their first baby, this income will allow her to provide her newborn the care he needs. Born at 7 months, Emanuel remained in the ICU for three-weeks until being able to gain enough weight to leave the hospital. Diana and Jorge remained in Medellín throughout this critical time. We give a warm welcome to the youngest member of the La Mesenia village.

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