Located within 40 kilometers of Santarém are 16 rural communities where the majority of individuals eke out a meager living on small family farms. Despite the Eixo Forte’s proximity to area tourism and Santarém, the third-largest city in the Brazilian Amazon, about half of the region’s residents earn less than $2 per day. Lacking sufficient access to adequate education and a means to some degree of upward mobility, many of the area’s young people leave for the questionable promise of a better future in the big city. This exodus of youth in turn means these communities will continue their hardscrabble existence. Without the energy and enthusiasm of youth, old ways die hard. The solution is to help folks understand and embrace new methods and practices in order to achieve sustainable livelihoods.
That’s where the Rural Family Home (Casa Familiar Rural or CFR) of Santarém comes in. This three-year vocational school provides young rural men and women with the tools they need to leverage available opportunities and create sustainable livelihoods for themselves, their families and their communities. By providing locally relevant, interdisciplinary education, the CFR enables local youth to become rural professionals who are prepared to fully exercise their rights and responsibilities as citizens. Education in the science of agriculture, animal husbandry, responsible land use, protecting the environment and tourism are but a few of the topics the CFR staff seeks to convey in a consistent curriculum.
The primary focus of CEN is to foster sustainable self-reliance by supporting communities’ efforts to achieve their own specific objectives. The following priorities reflect those areas where we feel that our resources and expertise will have the greatest impact on the positive growth of the Rural Family Home:
- Continue to assist the CFR to secure the resources required to complete the artesian well project.
- Continue the development of the CFR staff via exposure to the best practices of similar programs.
- Assist the CFR - Santarém to take advantage of lessons learned, especially those related to acquisition of improved funding.
- Facilitate collaboration among rural education institutions, as well as international nongovernmental organizations.
- Support CEN local partner Eunice Sena’s efforts to secure funding for a suitable permanent school building.
- Rural Family Home Artesian Well Project
- Construction of a permanent facility for the school
- Secure stable funding for the CFR - Santarém
- Improve staff qualifications and core academic programs
- Establish a permaculture program