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Church_transformation_Cucurun_smCommunity Beautification — In 2005 when Paulinho Melo started working with the community of Cucurunã, the outside of the church, which is the primary public building in the community, was in a state of disrepair, and the grounds were poorly kept. Paulinho was successful at organizing members of the community, and especially engaging the youth, to repaint the church, create a little plaza and stone walkways and landscape the grounds. Now, every year, the youth group decides on at least one community beautification project. These efforts have increased civic pride and helped organize the community.

 

Patron_saint_festival_smFestivals — For years the annual patron saint festival in Cucurunã had become just an excuse to drink. As a result of community organizing, the festival has become an annual event attracting an increasing number of visitors from the region, and the city of Santarém, to the community. Local foods and handicrafts are now sold, games are played and local musicians perform. An old, broken down and abandoned latrine was removed and the area was transformed into food stands. The festival has resulted in increased civic pride and a bump in income for vendors. It has also served as a demonstration to residents of Cucurunã and neighboring communities of what they can accomplish.  

 

Community Planning and Leadership Development — The project team held three series of town hall-style meetings to hear from residents in each community in the region regarding their aspirations for the region. Following each tour of every community, the project team presented its findings in a general regional meeting. This participative planning process has already resulted in the foundation of a comprehensive regional development plan. Learn more about the latest regional action plan.

In late 2011, community leaders decided to establish a formal regional association in order to coordinate the implementation of the regional tourism plan. This is an important step since it will greatly improve the communities’ ability to negotiate with government agencies, and secure funding for specific development projects. We will continue to work with them to establish this.

We have started assisting the communities to organize working groups to coordinate and promote the following development areas:

education infrastructure product production sports
health funding transportation environment
culture communication training security

We are also beginning to work on supporting the development of community councils in each of the communities in the region. The councils will eventually require an intensive training program to fully realize — which will be part of the next phase of the project.

Lanchonete_smIncreased Economic Activity — In addition to the increased economic activity generated by the festivals in Cucurunã and smaller festivals in several other communities, several new family-owned ventures have begun:

  • Guided horse rides
  • Locally produced food, crafts, and ornamental and medicinal plants are regularly available at a roadside stand in Cucurunã. They've even put up some great roadside signs publicizing the stand.
  • A traditional inn has opened in the community of Santa Luzia
  • A few stands have opened up on the beach at Ponta de Pedras

Environmental Stewardship — Grassroots conservation efforts have started to recover and conserve local streams and improve several local trails. In addition, Cucurunã began a campaign to clean up litter and remove trash from around the community.

We anticipate making a growing impact as the “pre-project” continues and we begin the full project. Learn more about project plans.

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