Developing Safety with Corporación Yunguilla

Corporación Yunguilla is an ecotourism organization located about 60 minutes north of Quito, nestled in the Cloud Forest of the Andes Mountains of Ecuador. The community is a group of about 50 families devoted to sustainable practices and the proper management of the unique natural resources that surround them. For almost 20 years, the community has been striving to provide for their needs with as little impact as possible, and was recently declared an area of conservation and sustainable use by the Quito city council.

The community not only takes in tourists from around the world for a day, or even months at a time, but also manufactures marmalades, cheeses, and handcrafts as a means of sustaining themselves. These projects are completed through the hardwork and dedication of the entire community, and allow for the continued growth and employment of members young to old.

How I Want to Help

After living in Yunguilla for a month in the Summer of 2016, I have been working to improve the Environmental, Health, Safety, and Sustainability of Corporación Yunguilla.  While I was there I was able to live with a family and work alongside members of the community in each aspect of their daily lives. The experience was incredible and opened my eyes to how much you can accomplish by working together.

While in Yunguilla, I witnessed an accident which could have been more serious than many people realized. Culturally, safety isn’t given the same priority as it is in the United States. When it happened, I was one of the most qualified people present to respond to the incident, which set off some alarms in my head. I knew from that moment that I needed to do what I could to get consistent basic training for all of the community members and ensure that they have what they need to take care of themselves and their visitors.

The community has been able to make some sporadic efforts to train employees and have first aid kits in the past, but nothing that has prevailed. After conversations with the organization in Yunguilla and consideration of their financial and cultural needs, we are pursuing the development of:

  • Basic First Aid Procedures
  • Zipline Safety Checklist
  • Earthquake Preparedness and Visitor Training

The training programs will be provided to the organization in both English and Spanish.

Additionally, I am working to raise funding to pay for:

  • First Aid/Emergency Response training (est. $1,400 USD)
  • First Aid Kits  (est. $25 USD each)
  • Finance for a general ESHS (Environmental Sustainability, Health and Safety) fund for future trainings and ESHS improvements, expenses, etc.
  • More funding can provide enough money for the community to get re-certified after their initial first aid training, and to be able to afford to keep up with their training and knowledge. We would also be able to purchase more specialized items for the first aid kits, pay for more safety and health improvements throughout the community, and have money set aside to replace safety equipment from the zipline.

How You Can Help

The community’s website can be found in both English and Spanish at: www.yunguilla.org.ec

Please consider donating or sharing on social media.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss the project, you can reach me, the project leader, Leah Bockhahn, at lmb4923@rit.edu.  I’d be happy to speak with you!