Living in the jungle communities in the Onzole River valley in Ecuador are 500 descendants of African slaves who, legend has it, escaped from Colombia many generations ago. They lived in secrecy for many years, only making contact with the outside world a decade ago due to health problems that were beginning to develop in the community. They have been mostly ignored by the Ecuadorian government and their way of life would be considered quite primitive by most North American standards. Santo Domingo de Onzole, surrounded on all sides by the lush greenery of the Ecuadorian jungle, is isolated but beloved, welcoming, and vibrant.
The Onzole River Project has seen people from very different backgrounds live together, develop community together, and help Onzole take some very vital steps forward. Teams of Canadian volunteers have brought tools, materials, and expertise to help the isolated community, where electricity is only a recent development. Through heavy heat and rain, they’ve worked on new buildings and new friendships. In 2009 and 2010, a total of 4 teams worked alongside members of the community to build a new workshop and new classrooms at the village school, continuing four years of efforts to improve life here. In May 2010, the first ORP medical team visited the area, assessing the health of the community and providing guidance and training on crucial issues like nutrition, childcare, and dental hygiene.
We’ve loved being honourary members of the Onzole River community and are excited for the opportunities ahead. If you’re interested in getting involved, be sure to have a look at our current needs.