Combu Island is in the equatorial rainforest of the Amazon. Here they speak the beautiful language of Portugese, which should not stop you from watching the video on the article which shows everyone involved in my friend, Nena’s new business. I stayed with Nena and Viviana, who also features quietly in the video. The night I stayed with them truly changed my life. I still distinctly remember sitting on the deck. My blogpost from that time is here, hope you enjoy it where I talk about being treated to a night on the river:
After the rains fell it was an incredible night with clear skies, a bright full moon and no mosquitos! Even more incredible was watching the river rise by over 5 metres – which explains the height of the pontes (walkways) from the river edge to the houses.
This is the jungle, and although not as dense as we think about when we consider the “no contact” tribes there are still dangers. The people here live off the land but it is a land not troubled by “development”. As Nena talks about. The island of Combu has only had electricity for around 7 years now.
Translation from original article here:
The Guamá River separates two tribes that live in a very different way, all citizens of the city of Belém. The sight of stress, pollution, traffic from the city is getting more distant with every mile as we cross to the Island of Combu. The idea is to forget the clock, because here the rhythm of the hours is different.
The crossing to the island is quiet and the landscape that comes from the forest is to fill your eyes. One of the houses smells of chocolate and the one responsible for this is the owner Izete, better known as Nena. The pictures depict some of the delights she has made.
Nena produces organic chocolate, in bar, powder. Everything 100% cocoa. ..a success at the fairs. She can sell between 200 and 250 bars a week. And it produces everything in a handmade way, it is time consuming, but it is done without the help of modern equipment to make the job easier.
With so many requests, the daughter of Nena, Patricia, helps in the work. She peels 14 kilos of almonds a week. After working in the commercial center of Belém as a saleswoman, when she realized that her mother was starting a business that had everything to go right, she asked to leave. “I’m doing a lot better today, working with Mommy and earning a buck. I’m happy, thank God,” she says.
Another helper who came to work was Nena’s niece, Suzana, “I overcame the boss,” he says, smiling. Suzana’s specialty is regional chocolates filled with fruit jam.
The cocoa is planted in an agroforest, in a system that allows to produce food without cutting down the forest.
Nena was born on the island of Combu. “We would hike in the woods, to study, passing igapó, small streams, I know this here in the palm of the hand,” she recalls.
And this is where she intends to live and work until the end of her life. “I do not want to change this island through the jungle of stone, no, just to solve things quickly and return here on the same day, no one goes hungry”.
Please join Nena’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/donanenacombu/ and help to promote her fabulous work. This is my album from the trip in 2011.
The main focus was to see the work being done so I could share it with our online volunteers and inspire volunteers to travel to Brazil to participate in the project. Travel2Change, based out of Hawaii, funded the trip so I am eternally thankful to them.
AVIF volunteers can help Nena’s new company and also assist with conservation education. You can stay and live on Combu Island, where life revolves around the river, around music, song, dance and the overall strength of family.
Being a part of these communities even for only a few days will change your life. I also got to visit Aldair, Junior and Fabricio in Mosqueiro, also in the area of Para, Brazil, at the Ampliar Instituto. Five minutes after watching these hip-hop artists I was sitting in awe watching them watch a breathtakingly beautiful classical cello performance by Diego Carneiro of AmazonArt. They were stunned!
Watching small children climbing trees to collect ACAI berries, watching the river rise and fall by over 6m every day, seeing the power in “inspired” youth, given just a little guidance and support…..
All this followed an event at Nidderdale High School in 2010, funded via Harrogate International Festival and Live Music Now, which saw the school host The Brazilian Ensemble, an Amazonian folk music group, including cellist Diego Carneiro de Oliveira who runs AmazonArt, which uses music and art to raise awareness of Amazonian traditions and the importance of the rainforest and Amazon River to the environment.
The great thing about AVIF is that anyone can help, even from their own home, because much of the volunteering work is done remotely online. Its just me with a laptop.
If you can help please get in touch. We will be crowdfunding Nena’s new kitchen on Indiegogo and will update with photos soon. Muito obrigado!