Empowerment, Indigenous & tribal populations, Rainforest Fund


January 24, 2017 by admin

We are proud to announce that Jesmarly, a participant of the Rainforest Fund-supported Niños de Amazonia program, has graduated from the University of Iquitos in Peru.

Jesmarly, from one of the most desolate areas in the Peruvian Amazon, dreamt of receiving a university-level education. With support from the Rainforest Fund and Niños de Amazonia program, she was able to graduate with honors and plans to bring the skills she learned in university back to her community.


Written by Amy Coplan, Founder of the Niños de la Amazonia project.


We are happy to announce that Jesmarly, the first of the ‘Niños’, has graduated from university with a degree in Accounting!

Here is a recap of Jesmarly’s journey:

The Niños de la Amazonia project began in 2006 when I gave six digital cameras to six indigenous children living in one of the most remote areas of the Peruvian Amazon. Jesmarly, the youngest of the child photographers, all between the ages of 12 and 15 years old at that time, recorded all aspects of their everyday lives in the rainforest for one year. Jesmarly was living in the village with her mother, sister, grandparents, aunts and uncles and their children in a one room thatched house. She had previously lived in Lima with her mother who was working as a domestic. Unable to sustain themselves in the city, they returned to the village where good fish and forest animals are abundant. She has always wanted to become a professional so she could improve the situation of her mother and family. With her goal in mind and the dedication to achieve it, she is the first of the ‘Niños’ from the Niños de la Amazonia project and non-profit to graduate from university! We are proud of her accomplishments and glad we were able to help her make her dream a reality.

The Niños de la Amazonia project is the only visual anthropology project documented by indigenous children who live in the Peruvian Amazon Rainforest. Their photos are real, intimate and untouched; and provide a true depiction of their everyday lives. The photos are presently part of a 10-year exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.

The Rainforest Fund supported the work of the ‘Niños’ by giving them the necessary funding to study at University of Iquitos (UNAP) with the goal of becoming educated, improving their lives and the lives of their family members, and serving their communities in the future. The non-profit has provided funding for Jesmarly and the other five ‘Niños’ with everything they have needed to matriculate, study and complete university. This support has included computer classes, math tutoring, pre-university courses, tuition, books, school materials, housing, food, and transportation to and from university so they could focus solely on their studies. Equally important, the ‘Niños’ have been given the guidance and emotional support when needed to move forward and achieve their goals.

Today, we are proud to share that Jesmarly, one of the child photographers, has graduated from university! She will be the first child ever from the village of San Martin de Tipishca to have graduated.

The Niños de la Amazonia project and non-profit could not have succeeded without the help of many people. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Rainforest Fund, Franca Sciuto, Sting and Trudie Styler, for their generous support of the ‘Niños’; the Smithsonian, with special thanks to Karen Fort and Sarah Block, for exhibiting the ‘Niños’ photos and bringing this work to a larger audience; the Niños de la Amazonia Board of Directors, Julie Salamon, Yony Arad and Mark Wilson, for their intelligent guidance; the staff of the Wildlife Conservation Society in Iquitos, with special thanks to Carola Carpio, Miguel Atunez, Pablo Puertas and the WCS staff for their clerical support; and our translator, Astrid Sieler.

More than words can express, the Niños de la Amazonia project and non-profit could not have succeeded without the help of Carola Rengifo; a woman born and raised in the village, who has given so much of herself and her time to help all of the ‘Niños’ achieve their goals.

Most of all, thanks to each of the ‘Niños’ for their faith in me and the project from the beginning.

Today we celebrate Jesmarly’s success as she graduates university with honors! We will be providing updates as she embarks on her career, betters her life and the life of her family. Her service to the community includes plans to help other children in her village who have the desire and dedication to pursue their educational goals.

Congratulations Jesmarly! We couldn’t be prouder of you!




Letter from Jesmarly, a ‘Niño’ from the Niños de la Amazonia project and recent University of Iquitos graduate.


Dear Mrs. Franca,

I am Jesmarly, one of the girls from the Niños de la Amazonia project.

First, I want to tell you that I am doing fine. I live with my mother and two brothers in Iquitos. We stay in the city because of my studies and in December, I am going to graduate from university.

My goals are to help my family, the community, and especially my brothers so they can also one day become good professionals.

I also want to help my mother who has done all what she could to give us a better life.

I want to become a good professional because I would have the opportunity to help my family and my community. I will be the first in the family to hold a degree and a profession.

I would also like to help the young people in my community, those who want to study and improve their lives, but do not have the possibility to do it.

I will find a way to teach them mathematics, computer science, English, and all courses which are essential for each of us.

My wish is to be able to change the lives of other people as the Project has done for me.

With the funds from the project, I can attain my degree and study English in order to increase my possibilities and those of others to progress in life.

I thank Mrs. Amy and the Rainforest Fund project for giving me the opportunity to change my life completely.

I cannot thank you enough for all that you and your organization have done.

I hope that others can have the same opportunity.

Take care of yourself,

I send you a kiss and an embrace




Want to blog with us?  Contact Jennifer at rffund@rainforestfund.org for more information!