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2006 - Amazon
Dedicated to Tara Allen who passed away while with us on the Amazon Refuge.
Tara Allen at the Amazon Refuge

Dear Friends and Family,

Solania with Nantar I have just returned from the World Wheel Project, the Amazon Refuge in the rainforest of Ecuador and am delighted with the progress of this nature reserve and wisdom center for the indigenous Shuar of the area.

With your donations, we have been able to buy, and put in the name of the Shuar, 300 acres bordering a pristine river and an island in the center of a lagoon. We are all in deep gratitude for your gifts. These Shuar families were forced to work their lands and then it was taken away from them by the Silesian Missionaries as late as the 70’s.

We are happy that with your donations we were able to return land to these families and establish a nature reserve with plans for a Shuar school for the children. This was the first phase of the World Wheel Project.

Shuar youth children bathing in Yukias river, YanuaShuar youth children bathing in Yukias river, YanuaShuar youth children bathing in Yukias river, Yanua


The second phase was to build traditional Shuar style houses along the banks of the Rio Yukias for the wisdom center and school, a dugout canoe donated by Marsha Morison, and three tree houses for guests. The only part left to do for this second phase is to complete the batroom facilities and extend the kitchen, estimated $1,500.

Edies tree house Posie Memorial Tara’s donation of new land for the RefugeDugout canoe for the lagoon

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For the third phase we have been given, by Hank Swan and Sally Kranzler, $27,000 to buy the adjacent 10 hectares that will connect the Refuge with a dirt road where we can build a store. We intend to sell pro ducts from this new acreage that has a papaya orchard, fields of yucca, papas, and peanut plants. It also has a spring and pond that we plan to develop into a fishery.

Shuar working on new land in papa fieldShuar woman nursing

Vijalis Shuar grandchild


With gratitude to Sally and Hank for this gift of purchase and funding, we hope by the end of this year to have the Amazon Refuge self sufficient; to support the Shuar families involved and to maintain the Refuge.

Vijali and Edie in music ceremony at waterfallVijali carving sculpture with Camillo brother

Camilo and Federico

I am happy to say that I have started carving a sculpture named Shuar Woman of the Waterfall with Two Anacondas, in a basalt boulder by the sacred waterfall at the lagoon. It is a boulder that my Shuar friends have asked me to carve from the beginning of the project and now I am teaching sculpture to these friends as we progress on the carving.

The fourth phase, which we are planning now and looking for funding, is to develop a Shuar School that will first be held at the regular school vacation times, taught by Shuar teachers in their language with subjects of the Shuar culture and language. This is an effort to preserve their culture which is fast being eroded by outside influences of materialism and the pressure of the oil companies to penetrate this area. In the second phase of the school’s development, we plan to bring in other curricula and establish an accredited school.

feel that the preservation of the indigenous cultures is important at this time of crisis on our planet, the few people left that still have a deep connection with nature, the knowledge of how to live sustainably within their environment, and know the usages of the medicinal plants of the rainforest.

The center with the school will not only be a place where the Shuar will study but is already a place where foreigners can come, partake of the Shuar culture, have ceremonies with the Shuar shamans, and simply experience health and well being by living close to nature with these delightful people, eat nourishing food from the rivers and rainforest, and have a time of meditation and renewal.

You all are welcome. Your visits add energy, ideas, and love to our center and beloved community, and bring awareness of the need to save our rainforests, the lungs of our planet, and her indigenous cultures.

Edie Hartshorne and Sally Kranzler, comrades who were with me during this last stay on the Refuge and fellow guardians of our nature reserve, send with me love and good tidings,

For information about travel to the Amazon Refuge see Newsletter 2005

Amazon Refuge project team:
Camilo & Alexandria Tsamaraint, Federico & Solania Tsamaraint, Vijali Hamilton, Edie Hartshorne, Sally Kranzler, Casey Straus, Markell Brooks, and Hank Swan

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Photos by Edie Hartshorne:

  • Shuar working on new land in papa field

  • Shuar woman nursing

  • Vijali's Shuar grandchild

  • Vijali carving sculpture with Camillo brother & Camilo and Federico

  • Tara Allen at the Amazon refuge

  • Solania with Nantar

  • Shuar youth children bathing in Yukias river, Yanua

Photos by Camilo Tsamaraint:

  • Vijali and Edie in music ceremony at waterfall

  • Dugout canoe for the lagoon

Photo by Sally Kanzler :

  • Tara’s donation of new land for the refuge

Photo by V. Hamilton

  • Edie's tree house Posie memorial