Local couple's outreach to benefit Peruvian families

It’s easy to get caught up in the congestion of summer, but a local couple and business team hope to enlighten the summer crowd about an international epidemic.

On Wednesday, Aug. 22, husband-and-wife team Dr. Kimberly Grimes and Marco Hernandez, owners of South Bethany’s Made By Hand International Cooperative, will host their first promotional event on the Bethany boardwalk bandstand to spread awareness to the plight of indigenous peoples and the natural rainforest environment in South and Central America.

“A Journey in the Amazon,” a book written to inform others of these issues, will debut at the event, along with a CD by the same name that features sounds of the rainforest.

“We want people to know how important it is to save the Amazon jungle,” said Hernandez. “Because of lack of industry, people are very desperate to pay for their families. What they end up doing is making charcoal, and to do so, they need to cut down trees. The farmers say, ‘What do you want me to do? I have to feed my family.’” Proceeds from the sales of the book and CD will go directly to these farmers and their families.

Recently, the “Amazon nut,” or sacha inchi – widely harvested in Peru — was discovered to have a possible health benefit. A main topic in the book, the nut has already become popular in Europe, due to its high content of Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, which are believed to have positive effects in heart disease. The plant is also capable of growing on depleted land that cannot harvest other crops.

Grimes, a professor of anthropology at the University of Delaware, coined the name for the nut, and she has worked directly with these farmers to understand their needs.

With money raised from book and CD sales, Peruvian farmers will be able to finance their crops and purchase the goods they need to help support their families. Furthermore, they will help preserve the Amazon’s trees. Many farmers Herandez has spoken with have also vowed to implement a tree restoration program, to help preserve the jungle.

“We’ll take donations, too,” said Hernandez, “but the sales should really help out. The book and CD will be teaching people, and they’ll be giving money for a good cause, too.”

The goal, noted Hernandez, is to raise $10,000 in one year.

“These farmers are asking for a chance,” he said. “They’re not begging for others to feed them. They simply want to live a good life. We just want to set up a corporation with expenses.”

Local writers, artists and musicians have had a part in the promotional combo, with illustrator Joanna West and Georgetown printer Charles Rogers helping with the book. Hernandez, a musician himself, was assisted by Delaware musicians Ken Schleifer, Blaze Berger, Dan Jordan, Kameron Shleifer, Jordan Marvel and Jesse Friend.

Grimes and Hernandez are even taking their teachings one step further, traveling to libraries and churches around the state to educate others about the importance of rain forest and jungle conservation. On Sept. 8, the team will travel to La Esperanza community center and the Episcopal Church of Georgetown. On Sept. 23, they will be at the Corbit Calloway Memorial Library in Odessa.

The upcoming event will take place at the bandstand on the Bethany Boardwalk at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 22. The book and CD will be on sale, with information available, too. Starting Thursday, Aug. 23, both the book and the CD will be available at Made By Hand International Cooperative.

“We’re doing what we can,” said Hernandez. “This project is a group effort. It belongs to everybody.”

For more information about “A Journey in the Amazon,” and Hernandez and Grimes’ endeavors, visit www.fairtradefederation.org or www.ifat.org on the Internet. The book and CD will be available at Made By Hand International Cooperative in the York Beach Mall, beside McCabe’s Gourmet, along Route 1 in South Bethany. For additional information or to make a contribution, call (302) 539-6335.