Dos Corrientes- An Eco-Model for Community Self Development
Dos Corrientes began on a wind-swept hillside overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Manabí, near a poor village of 385 people subsisting on rice and fish. Two Canadians came here years ago, bought 20 hectares of land with a gorgeous view, kept returning year after year, and in 2021 came to Ecuador for full time residency. The only economic industry in this remote area is fishing, and these two expats wanted to develop an ecological and organic model of self-development to benefit the nearby villagers and help them alleviate their poverty. The plan for holistic assistance and self-reliance for the nearby residents’ benefit encompasses elements of micro-financing, instruction, permaculture, hands-on experience, and shared communal work. All that, including needed income to the community, can become a model to be utilized anywhere in Ecuador to assist poor settlements that need to find methods to improve their own lifestyles.
Thus, Dos Corrientes was born. Plans were drawn up to develop a self-sustaining model of instruction and work to offer people a way to supplement both their own nutrition and their incomes. The vision of Dos Corrientes is to create a model that can be used worldwide to alleviate family poverty and transform communities. This model has eight components: 1) extensive research, 2) solutions based on causes, not symptoms, of poverty, 3) food sovereignty (personal control), 4) skill-based education, 5) a multiplier effect of money to promote community growth, 6) teaching English to facilitate commerce outside the community, 7) relationship work with foreign and domestic institutes of higher learning for student and faculty engagement, 8) social entrepreneurism.
After first building a ¾ kilometer road, using 8000 recycled tires and gravel leading up to the location, a home was built on the property for Don Wilson and Heather Rose, the founders of Dos Corrientes. Next began the first step in the project: building a ‘backyard garden’ located near this home, which utilized permaculture techniques. A few workers from the local village, Ligüiqui, were hired to build the demonstration garden, and an agricultural engineer from Manta, Meibilyn Demera, was hired to teach a backyard garden food course to willing local students. No tuition was required, but internet access was necessary for the students. The course consisted of 16 hours of online classwork and three full days of practical learning. The students were also encouraged to employ the skills they were learning to build backyard gardens near their own homes, and seed trays were provided for the student’s home gardens. Transportation was provided by two workers, who drove students in trucks from the demonstration farm to the site for hands-on learning. Students were taught specific skills which included planting, sufficient watering, regenerating the soil, harvesting the food and the seeds, and composting, after which the cycle of planting, growing and harvesting would begin again.
This first course graduated 35 students and the village elders of Ligüiqui requested another course term in the future for those people who were not able to join the first class. The next class will include online course work for students, but will also include additional hands-on learning days, beyond the initial three days.
The founders of Dos Corrientes believe that in order to alleviate poverty and develop communities, in addition to food sovereignty and skill-based education, every project needs an "economic engine." This drives employment for the people that the project serves and also fuels revenue into the organization to pay for agriculture and education costs. Currently, the demonstration farm sells the carefully washed and bagged vegetables to various people in the area and to a small store in Santa Marianita. In the future, once the growing capabilities of the communal gardens have increased, the plans are for the volunteer workers from Ligüiqui to be able to share in the revenues generated.
Four universities have agreed to support and share their expertise with the Dos Corrientes project. ULEAM (Universidad Laica “Eloy Alfaro” de Manabí) is providing student and faculty engagement in research and project development. The University of the Fraser Valley is providing a funding portal (a donation venue with charitable receipts) for Canadian citizens as well as faculty engagement with students in Ecuador through Dos Corrientes. No administration fee is being charged by this university, so entire donations go directly to Dos Corrientes. Escuela Politécnica del Litoral (ESPOL) in Guayaquil is conducting a class in “Design Thinking,” using Dos Corrientes as one of their research projects, as well as conducting research into the development of skills for women, specifically in Ligüiqui, and their subsequent empowerment. Lastly, Universidad Yachay Técnica, in the Sucumbios province, will soon test a nano-material on the farm which could produce as much as 500 liters of water per day through condensation in the air, extremely valuable in an area that does not always have viable rainfall.
The founders have plans in the future to build an ecovillage on the property because of the beauty of the spot, the location of the farm, and the tourist opportunities in the area. The hopes are that it will provide many benefits to the residents of the area, not the least of which should include some revenues to offset donations towards the project. Money making ventures may include a facility where the theory of the skill-based education can be put into a practical setting, and lead to employment in construction, electrical, plumbing, roofing, maintenance, cuisine, bookkeeping, marketing, and hotel management. Cabins to rent and homes to buy will also be offered in the future, and tourism should foster increased entrepreneurial opportunities in the village such as general stores, restaurants, hat making, and private tours. A pristine area within the 20-hectare property will be left as a sanctuary for plants, animals, and birds.
Donations for the project are gladly accepted. Contact Don Wilson ( email@example.com ) or donate directly through the University of the Fraser Valley in Canada with the special link set up for Dos Corrientes: https://connect.ufv.ca/South-America-Growth-Project-Foundation-Dos-Corrientes If a Canadian tax receipt is not required, you can donate directly to Dos Corrientes through their website www.doscorrientes.com/donate.