Sunday, January 29, 2012

Karanambu Trust on the move!

For years, Diane's vision for the Karanambu Trust has been…
To ensure the sustainable use of Karanambu land through wildlife and habitat conservation, research, training, and technology transfer in partnership with local communities. 

Early in January, Karanambu Trustees, Dr. Godfrey Bourne, a Professor of Evolutionary and Tropical Ecology, Department of Biology, University of Missouri-St, Louis and Dr. Lucy Spelman, a biologist and wildlife veterinarian who is also a professor at RISD, Rhode Island arrived at Karanambu with 6 American biology students.
 Being dropped off by a small plane in the middle of nowhere did not seem to deter them.
Diane welcoming the students to the Karanambu Compound as Andrea hugs Dr. Lucy
Godfrey soon paired the American students with their local Guyanese counterparts. Each pair chose a specific research project and their fieldwork schedules were organized. 
Susan George (in the red shirt) from Katoka Village was the only Guyanese female participant...all the American students were female.  It took her 2 hours to arrive from Katoka by motorbike. She was nervous that she would not be able to keep up with the university students.  Makushi is her first language and she has not attended university.  She brought all of her school books, including her dictionary. We reassured  her that this was her home and she knew more about it than they did. They might have computer skills, but they were coming to study biodiversity.  The Guyanese students knew more about it than they did, which made them equal partners as they began their research projects.

 Whether it was learning about the termites 
and their mounds
 Or learning about their predator, the Giant Anteater 
and observing Martien's amazing ability to interact with them. The students nicknamed him, 
"The Anteater Whisperer"
Three veterinary students got hands on experience working with Marvin the Senior Vaquero.
 Anum and Oswin studied the Water Lilies
And it's pollination
Another project was the study of
 and figuring out their favorite diet
The students also visited Kwaimatta school
Auntie Doris and Benita and "Baby Jane"
showed them how to make Cassava Bread
Sleeping in a hammock was a new experience for the American students
But eating under a cashew tree
and showering outside was not difficult
Before we knew it, the 10 days were over and it was time to say "good-bye", until the next time!
 Even after all the logistical nightmares 
(the TRUCK of supplies arrived 5 days after the students! So the toilets weren't finished...and we are still trying to figure how we managed to feed everyone!) 
It was wonderful to see Diane's vision for the Karanambu Trust realized.
It had all been a great success and everyone is looking forward to the next one!

Saturday, January 14, 2012


Myu is the Makushi word for "Self Help".  Friends, neighbors come together to work on a community project.  The "host" or community asking for the help provides a meal and Cassava beer, which is called "Cari". There is tremendous strength in numbers!  It is just amazing how much can get accomplished when everyone works together!

Karanambu has two airstrips.  The larger one is maintained by the Civil Aviation Authority.  The smaller one on the compound is our responsibility to maintain.   After the rainy season, the grasses and weeds had taken it over.  Charter flights and the RAM (Remote Area Medical) plane use it.  So we went to our closest village, Kwiamatta and called a MYU!  Friends and neighbors all came to help clear the runway.
  Men, women and children all came to help.
We slaughtered a cow and made plenty Cari and the work began
and continued
Everyone working together to clear the grass
burning and pulling and hoeing 
While clearing the runway we came across a large rattlesnake.  
Salvador tried to remove it, but accidentally sliced him with a sickle!
It was definitely time for a "Cari" break
 Cari is the local drink.  It's a beer made from Cassava,
it is very strong and definitely an acquired taste.
I think it tastes like warm fermented yogurt, 
but Salvador doesn't mind the taste!
When you see the white bucket, you know Cari is about.
But soon enough, it was back to work...a little happier for the Cari
It was a long day
Finally everyone was ready to head home
and they all piled into the Landrover
 and we took them home