Cristian Vélez Ramirez

  • Founder, Amazon Forever
  • Peru

Impact area: Environment; Sustainable Development Goals 13, 14, 15

Located on the outskirts of Iquitos, a jungle metropolis in the Amazon basin of Peru, El Provenir (The Future) school struggled to maintain the delivery of quality education during the Covid-19 pandemic. With most families unable to afford computers, and Internet access limited, virtual education was almost impossible.

To help meet student needs, Amazon Forever stepped in to deliver video-based environmental education programming via WhatsApp. Every week, parents received “Eco Cuentos de Huayo,” animated videos with environmental messages on their phones, along with a worksheet to facilitate learning and discussion.

Support for Amazon Forever’s Covid response activities came from the Global Youth Resiliency Fund (GYRF). In all, more than 8,346 local students benefited from the organization’s educational outreach, with 350 preschool and primary school teachers trained to engage students in nature-based games that reinforced soft skills from cooperation to problem solving.

“No one cares for what they do not love, and no one loves what they do not know,” says Amazon Forever co-founder Cristian Vélez Ramirez. The organization’s environmental communication and education for sustainable development programs nurture emotional ties with nature.

Toward that end, GYRF funding was also used to promote visits to the Amazon Forever Biopark, 11 hectares of white sand forest designed to foster playful interaction with nature. Over 12,000 people participated in educational tours and forest walks in the park from August to December 2021.

Funding through the GYRF helped Cristian develop new professional contacts and alliances. Peru’s Ministry of the Environment now features the eco tales on its virtual environmental classroom, with park rangers at the Yaguas National Park trained in the use of the animated stories. And Amazon Forever has signed cooperation agreements with municipal and regional public sector entities to develop education workshops with teachers.

As for the students at El Provenir, teachers were eventually able to utilize the eco tales in face-to-face classes, with Cristian now planning to deliver workshops in the forest for the children and their families.

Learn more about Forever Amazon here.