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Rubén Leiva-Montoya & Kristi Denby

Objective: Supporting farm worker cooperatives

Working in the Amazon jungle of Peru is not only an opportunity for us to use our skills and education, but also a way to return as a family to Latin America – Rubén’s homeland.

We work with different organizations: Rubén works with Cooperativa Agraria Cafetalera Oro Verde, a cacao and coffee farmer’s cooperative where he’s working to improve the livelihoods of its workers. Kristi works with the Laboratorio Takiwasi based in Tarapoto, San Martin, a region known worldwide for its rich biodiversity of medicinal plants and an important historical centre of traditional Amazonian medicine.

When we’re not working with Cuso International, we’re outside spending time in the jungle or immersing ourselves in local culture, festivals and community life.

Our Cuso International experience has been absolutely incredible and the support Cuso International have provided for our family has been exceptional. Being flexible and patient has helped us sort out childcare and find a suitable home, and most importantly adapt to the new working environment. Our daughter, Tala, is thriving living in Lamas, going to pre-school, taking care of her cats and chickens, discovering all the flora and fauna the jungle has to offer, making friends, eating local food and being immersed in a diverse Spanish and Quechua-speaking community. This experience has been priceless for our family, and has given both of us the opportunity to grow and contribute to a better world.

Our placements are putting both of our skills, education and experience to work in something we’re passionate about: Rural development. We’ve both had the opportunity to visit diverse communities: deep in the jungle into a Quechua Indigenous community to spend time with and document three generations of women working with medicinal plants, and travelling to coffee and cacao farms throughout the area on a motorbike.

They feel like it has been an opportunity of a lifetime. Being here in the Peruvian Amazon, as a family, sharing growing and creating new cultural understanding and deep friendships is an experience we will never forget.