So, here are some answers to frequently asked questions about the community center to be built on land already donated by one of the families living in Camrones, and will serve as a meeting place, location for educational and health services, and a facility to assist in income generation, and cultural exchanges in the community:
- A place of employment for local community members. 3 individuals from the community will be hired to help run the center, offer programming, and act as ecotourism guides to guests and visitors. An additional 6 individuals will be hired for short-term labor in construction and maintenance of the center.
- A facility for education and programs. There is a strong desire by the community members to have English language instruction for adults and children in the community. English language instruction will equip local community members to serve as guides and hosts for potential ecotourists in the area. Community members would also like to see a variety of educational programming for youth and adults, including workshops on local river health and quality, as well as other relevant environmental topics. There is also a desire to have programs for women in the community, from cooking to exercise classes. Finally, we eventually plan to provide a few computers for the community center and classes on how to use them, as this is also something the community would like to see in the center.
- A place for health services. Currently, the closest medical services are an hour away. The community center will provide a venue for visiting health practitioners.
- Facility to house projects to aid in income generation. The residents of Camarones are eager to use the community center for income generating projects. Income disparity in Ecuador is large- Camarones is extremely poor in terms of income, but wealthy in energy, ideas, and enthusiasm for growth that does not destroy their local natural resources. Much of the current income in Camarones is generated from logging the local cloud forest, which is home to six endangered species of felines (jaguar, puma, ocelot, oncilla, margay, and jagarundi), and two endangered species of primates (mantled howler monkey, and white-fronted capuchin monkey), and is considered part of the Thumbes-Chocó-Magdalena biodiversity hotspot. Additionally, in 2009, two new species of frog were discovered in the neighboring cloud forest by herpetologist Paul S. Hamilton. A second important source of income has been shrimp farming. Unfortunately, many of the current shrimp farming practices have resulted in the degradation of the coastal mangroves. The families living in Camarones are looking for new, sustainable ways to generate income. This community center will be the focal point for continued sustainable development and the home base for new projects. For example, it will provide a place for storing and making soap for a local group of women that has started a natural soap making project. It will also serve as a central market-place where local produce can be stored and sold, including a coffee growing and roasting initiative started by another local community member.
- A guest room/house for visitors to generate income. Camarones currently does not have a community-owned place for potential ecotourists, scientists, volunteers, or visiting family members to stay. While local families have hosted individuals in the past, houses are small, making this less than ideal. And, having a community house, which the community requested, makes for a location that guests can come and stay, and put money back into the community itself.
- A facility to house a library and literacy programs. We have teamed up with a bookstore and a book publisher and have a number of books donated to assist in literacy programs and reading activities in the community center.
- A place to hang out together. The center will have a shared community kitchen, a library and reading area, and an office area that anyone needing a meeting space can use. It will also have a playground for the children in the community.
- A space for large gatherings and meetings The town currently has no centralized location for monthly town meetings or special events. A large, shared space, where everyone can gather, and take ownership in, is something that has been desired by the community for many years.