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Arútam is a small indigenous Shuar community consisting of 6 households and 40 inhabitants. The community located in the Amazon forest in the Pastaza province of Ecuador.
The villagers live a traditional live and are engaged in subsistence farming of especially yucca, plantain, papa china and camote. Some locals have paid jobs as teachers in the bilingual high school and other neighboring communities.
There is also a small school in the community with approximately 15 students from Arútam and surrounding communities, where children can take up till the 6th grade. The school is free and provides the needed materials or the children.
The community is also home to a women’s group called KURINUA. The name means golden women and provides micro-credits to women in order to start small development projects, raising small livestock as chickens, education or hospital aid.
Since 2000, the villagers in Arútam has been working with volunteers in order to strengthen the work with the protection of the reserve and creating income generating activities. Together villagers and volunteers have made Arutam into a small success story, where it has been possible to preserve a huge amount of rainforest, preserving everything from monkeys to pumas, orchids to mahogany.
Furthermore, the cattle are long gone and instead villagers are reforesting with valuable timber and fruit trees. The project has also strengthened the culture and traditional knowledge of the Shuar by revitalizing skills and knowledge.
Although the forest has as a reserve status it still takes a big effort from the community and the network of volunteers to maintain the project, develop new ideas and expand the activities into the neighboring communities. The long term goal of this project is to take care of Arutam and the surrounding communities’ interests and hopefully lay the foundation for the Shuar to continuously manage the forest where they have lived for many centuries.