Images show how aid changes lives in the Amazon

Trish Gentry plants a tree in the Amazonian rainforest with a member of staff from Soluciones Practicas. Photograph: Christian Aid/Elaine Duigenan
Trish Gentry plants a tree in the Amazonian rainforest with a member of staff from Soluciones Practicas. Photograph: Christian Aid/Elaine Duigenan
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A photography exhibition charting the work of a Scottish-funded aid project in the Amazon rainforest is to go on show in Edinburgh.

It features photographs by Elaine Duigenan of a visit to the project in Bolivia by Trish Gentry, a retired shepherdess from the Borders.

Children enjoy clean water to wash next to the new toilet block at Altamarani. Photograph: Christian Aid/Elaine Duigenan

Children enjoy clean water to wash next to the new toilet block at Altamarani. Photograph: Christian Aid/Elaine Duigenan

Gentry recently travelled to the Amazon with international development charity Christian Aid, which is working with Scottish Guild money to install solar-powered ovens and water pumps for indigenous communities.

The project has also helped tribes increase their wild cacao production and create community vegetable gardens designed to improve food security.

Gentry, 70, who has left a legacy to the charity in her will and also works with the Scottish Guild, said: “The solar ovens work almost like a slow cooker – they can put food in them and leave it so they can do other things and not have to stand over the wood ovens, which were problematic.

“The problem in the Amazon is that wood gets wet when it rains and it is laborious for them to gather and keep it. The smoke from burning the wood is also damaging to their health.”

The two-week trip allowed her to forge relationships with people in the communities they visited.

She said: “We were asked to take pictures of our own family and communities so we could show people we met. I’m not sure what they thought of seeing all of my sheep in the snow in the Borders. There, the animals all lived together, there were no fences. In one place we visited, a little girl was playing with a lamb like a child here might play with a dog.”

National Guild Secretary, Iain Whyte, said fundraisers from the Guild had raised more than £83,000 for the project in the past three years.

He said: “Our members have enjoyed learning about communities in the Bolivian Amazon and how these solar ovens have transformed their daily lives.”

Val Brown, church and community manager for Christian Aid Scotland, said: “Thanks to the support of the Guild, we’ve been able to provide many families with solar ovens.

“Not only do they enable people to be more resilient in the face of climate change as people can cook even when firewood is soaking wet, they have freed women from the time consuming and often dangerous task of collecting firewood and cooking over open stoves, ensuring they can now attend community decision making meetings.”

The exhibition, Inherit the Earth, will be on display in St Giles’ Cathedral in April.