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Schools World Service

Children of the Rainforest - Primary School Resources

Life in the Amazon rainforest is changing fast and these children growing up in Ecuador, are directly affected. Read their stories here

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School children in Ecuador tell their stories about the rainforest. Duration 6,15

Jungle playground
Boy stands by the Napo river
When I go to play in the forest, I climb the big trees with lots of branches with my brothers - we have to look out for snakes. I like to swing on the vines and jump into the river
Jefferson, age twelve

For children in Mondana village, the jungle is part of their everyday life.

Anna is thirteen: "I like to swim in the river and look for monkeys. I love the monkeys - because they don't bite!"

Jefferson enjoys going fishing - for piranhas. "I use a hook andline baited with meat and ripe bananas. I just drop it in the river and wait. Once I catch one, I have to pull the hook out very carefully because it can bite me. Then I take it home for dinner!"

His favourite animal is the jaguar: "I saw a jaguar once. I was really scared. I was with my little brother and we were walking when a jaguar appeared out of nowhere. He was in a tree and he jumped down. The jaguar was as scared as I was. He was just a young one, and luckily he ran away."

Possoum-like animal standing on wooden steps with a lead tied to its chest
Robinson's new jungle pet

Robinson is nineteen and has been hunting in the rainforest since he was thirteen with his dad. Now he takes his younger brother - who is twelve - with him.

The family have a new jungle pet which they will keep tied up until it is tame.

Mauro is six and has a pet turtle which he feeds with ripe bananas. He'd like a small monkey as a pet.

Jennifer is eleven and she likes the monkeys, too: "Sometimes they get hurt and I take them home and look after them. When they are better I release them back into the wild."

In the rainforest, the beans to make chocolate grow on trees. "I like to play 'it' in the jungle and to climb the cocoa trees," said Jennifer. "Sometimes my grandma gets angry with us because she says we're taking all the chocolate."

It's very difficult to find your way in the jungle, and although that makes it more exciting to play in, it's also more dangerous.

All the children play hide and seek. Jefferson said, "It's easy to get lost. I find my way by looking at the trees. My brother once got lost and he didn't find his way home until 4 in the morning."

Diana, aged thirteen, got lost in the jungle looking for fruit: "Once I went into the woods to get some guava to eat and I got lost. It was dark. There was no light. In the end my parents found me - that's how I got home."

Rivers and roads

Just one month to build the road
The local bus from Barrio los Andis to Agua Santos
Before the road was built we were sad. Now we have the road, we are happy
Lizbeth, age seventeen

There are very few roads deep in the rainforest, so the children in Mondana have a very special school bus… it's the school canoe.

Without the school canoe, most of these children would not be able to go to school. It is too difficult to make your way through the rain forest.

Lizbeth who is sixteen takes the canoe because she has to cross the river to get to school and there is no bridge.

But last year a road was built through Lizbeth's village, and now she and her family can catch the bus to the local market town, and can even reach Quito, the capital of Ecuador.

Lizbeth and her mother inside their house
Lizbeth interviewed at home with her mother Rosa.

Lizbeth was on the first bus to market - along with all her family, friends and neighbours. Everyone went together to celebrate.

These days she and her mother take the bus to market every two weeks. They sell fruit and vegetables they grow. The road makes travel and trade easy.

But it also means more people can move into the area, and anyone can come and help themselves to precious wood deep in the forest.

Lizbeth told us that she was sorry about the damage to the forest.

"The road is important because we need to travel," she said, "but at the same time trees have been damaged to make way for the road. And the animals have moved away further into the forest."

But a few miles away, they are making the same road wider. This is good for the people. But it's not good for the rainforest.

Oil

Amazon paradise
Henry and his mother stand in front of a hillside covered in fields and trees
The rivers are full of fish, there are so many animals it's like a zoo here
Henry, age seventeen

Henry goes to school in Mondana but his family live in a small town called Archidona. His family are farmers and Henry loves living in the rainforest.

Two years ago, the family heard that oil has been found in a neighbour's field.

There's been no drilling as yet. Everyone is waiting to see what happens.

Henry's mum would like to keep things as they are: "Now we are living a good life," she said. "After this, I'm afraid that my children and my grandchildren won't live like I do."

There has been some serious pollution in Ecuador as a result of the oil industry. Henry is learning about the environment at school and he is worried about the potential for pollution in his village.

Some people are hopeful that oil will bring jobs and money. Others, like Henry, are worried about the potential for pollution.

Feeding the family

Jefferson and his family with the BBC camera team
Filming with Jefferson and his family

Not all the changes are the result of big business. Everyday individuals living in the rainforest cut down trees.

We met Jefferson at school. He is fourteen years old and the eldest of six children. He took us home to meet his family.

They make a living from the land growing rice, maize, yucca and bananas. They hunt and fish, and they cut down up to ten trees a month.

"We use the wood to build the house and we sell to other families," Jefferson explained. "Sometimes we get paid by other families to cut down a tree and cut it down into timber with the chainsaw."

Jefferson enjoys helping fell trees: "I like cutting down trees - it's exciting and because I can look out for my dad.

Sometimes if the chain on the chainsaw breaks I help to fix it, or I run back home and fetch the axe. Then when the job's over, I come home and relax."

The family work hard to feed their children, but Jefferson's dad, Luis, is worried that there won't be enough trees and animals for everyone in the future.

Jefferson said, "If everyone keeps cutting down the trees, they will run out. There won't be seeds for them to grow back. The water will run out. The animals will go away."

The Amazon region is often called the lungs of the world because it plays such an important role in maintaining the air, climate and water of the whole world. Scientists think that the future of the rainforest will affect us all.

The children who live here love the forest and are concerned about the environment. But the natural world gives way to them everyday.

It is hard to see how these children and their families can strike a balance with nature.


Schools World Service is a BBC British Council co-production



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