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Saman Project: Description of Project Phases

The Saman Project is made possible by a collective from Cuenca including Hearts of Gold, Colectivo Madre Tierra, Yakumama Lounge, San Sebas Cafe, Brigada Surfistas, and the individuals and families in Canoa, Ecuador that were severely impacted by the June earthquake.


Proyecto Samán is a grassroots project focused on helping families find a way back to their lives again.  International and national groups, organizations, volunteers and citizens have joined forces to provide a sustainable solution to bring the people of Canoa dignity, safety and a promising future.  For this to happen, Proyecto Samán is working in three phases.

Phase one is to build a sustainable relief camp in the forests of Río Canoa.  Camp Samán is located on three hectares of land, 6 km from town, that have been donated to the project for two years.  The camp is a safe, tranquil place where the frightened and traumatized men, women and children can begin to recover from the devastating 7.8 earthquake.  With large trees, green grass, birdsong and dragonflies, Camp Samán is the perfect place to begin again.  Here the people have all their basic needs met with temporary shelters, a communal kitchen and work space, a playground for the children, potable water, showers, compost toilets and communal gardens.   Up to fifty families, or two hundred and fifty people, can live at Camp Samán in a sustainable way.   Currently, more than 120 people are living on the camp and the applications keep coming.  We expect the camp to be filled to capacity within a month’s time.

Phase two focuses on implementing six family services programs that promote healing, growth and success for the families once they leave the camp.  These programs are designed to create an atmosphere of learning and involvement by the people living at Samán.  One of the rules for living at Camp Samán is the willingness to be a part of the social structure of the camp and being a part of the change needed to transition into a permanent living situation.  We do not want to create an atmosphere of dependence in any way, which is why this phase is a key aspect of the project.  The people living at Camp Samán are very capable and they must be involved in its success.

Phase three is the reintegration of families into their permanent homes and stable job situations.  The process of reintegrating into society is one that takes time, which is why phase 1 and phase 2 are critical because they accompany the individuals and families through the process of healing from the trauma and learning skills needed to be a positive part of society once they leave Camp Samán.  This phase ensures that the families can truly have a promising future.

Each phase is critical and the project will be successfully implemented within a two-year time frame.

Proyecto Samán is committed to these families and we intend to cultivate new beginnings together.    We cannot do this alone and urge you to be a part of a direct change.  With your help, we can build back Canoa in a positive, sustainable and dignified way, which will provide a solid, successful future for the families who lost everything that devastating night in April.


Construction of Camp Samán (phase 1):

Proyecto Samán, in Canoa, Ecuador, provides basic services and transitional shelters to families that have been greatly devastated by the 7.8 earthquake that rocked the Ecuadorian coast April, 16, 2016.  Camp Samán is located 6 kilometers (3.8 miles) from the center of Canoa and is three hectares in size.  The site has been donated to Proyecto Samán for two years by a local landowner and surfer from Canoa.  The camp provides the families with all the basic necessities such as transitional shelters with ample living space and room for personal improvements, communal areas, fun learning areas for the children, potable water, showers, compost toilet units and community gardens.

Currently more than 120 people (24 families) are living on the camp and the applications keep coming.  We expect the camp to be filled to capacity within a month’s time.  The maximum capacity for the camp is 250 people (50 families).

The camp is set in a natural, forested area and is full of plants, trees, birds, dragonflies and many other wonders of the Ecuadorian rainforest ecosystems.  It is a safe and tranquil place and is perfect to help the families start the difficult process of grieving, healing and moving forward so they can successfully transition out of the camp and into a permanent living situation.

Family Services Programs (phase 2):

Our Family Services Programs examines the needs and aspirations of the families and individuals and seeks to help them answer questions such as: What values, aspirations and skills would I like to cultivate for myself? What do we want to achieve as a family?  How will we/I make this a reality?

The Family Services Programs provide the foundation and support the families and individuals need to be able to successfully transition into a permanent and sustainable living situation.  Each individual and family has a written plan that outlines the steps that need to be taken in order to achieve their goals.  The following six programs explain the different opportunities that are available to help support them through this process.

Program 1: Camp Samán Maintenance and Administration:

Program Objective: Maintain and manage quality services that provide safe and healthy living conditions.

Camp Samán will maintain basic services such as a potable water system, electricity, wash centers, compost toilet units, communal dispensary and community center.  Families are a part of rotating work commissions that include them in the upkeep of their temporary home and give them a sense of ownership.  This helps ensure that an atmosphere of dependence and lethargy is not created.

A safety program that uses a public-private-communal approach will ensure safety and tranquility for the families.

Veterinary care is provided and people who have pets at the camp and in the area are invited to participate in talks that explain the importance of basic pet care. Pets are a part of the family and deserve to be treated with love and respect too!

Program 2: Holistic Medical and Emotional Care

Program Objective: Provide tools and therapies that support a holistic medical and emotional approach to achieve emotional, physical and spiritual well-being for the families and individuals.

This will be achieved by working with groups and organizations such as SERAP, a group of psychologists who go to Camp Samán every two weeks to provide therapy sessions for the people at the camp, students and professors from the University of Azuay as well as various healers who utilize alternative and holistic medicine.

Program 3:  Livelihood Training

Program Objective: Organize small business and livelihood training workshops and classes that will help enhance existing skills of individuals living on the camp and in the area and/or provide new opportunities for future economic stability and growth.

The first series of livelihood training courses that the families living at Camp Samán are:

  1. Auto mechanics – turning motorcycles into Moto-taxis and maintenance

  2. Making furniture out of bamboo and pallets

  3. Cosmetology

  4. Cooking Classes (baking and canning)

  5. Sustainable farming: design and management

Professionals will analyze each small business initiative to ensure its viability.  Currently twelve different schools from the University of Azuay and various professional volunteers have agreed to participate in the execution of this program and will share their resources and experiences.  A fabrication center will be implemented and supplied at Camp Samán and will have the tools and space needed for building, mechanics and other technical courses that require a proper work space.  Proyecto Samán will promote the campaign to encourage donors to provide monetary support and donation of specified materials and tools needed to implement the training courses.

Program 4: Supplementary Education

Program Objective:  Accompany children and teens in their formative process in an environment that fosters creativity, fun and learning.  Support adults in overcoming challenges with illiteracy and lack of education.

During this learning process, dynamic workshops and courses will be provided such as:

  1. Photography

  2. Camp Newspaper

  3. Documentary Filmmaking

  4. Art – painting, sewing etc.

  5. Mural project

  6. Music

  7. Adult Education courses

Proyecto Samán will promote a campaign to encourage donors to provide monetary support and donation of specified materials and tools needed to implement the training courses.

Program 5 – Social Organization

Program Objective: Strengthen and support a positive communal living experience that is based on equality and valuing the diversity of the community and the roles that each person assumes for the collective well-being.

In accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,  every human being is unique and we all share universal rights and that, “equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world”.  With this in mind, actions will be taken in every program to ensure respect for diversity.  Also, organizations and groups will organize talks and workshops that focus on topics such as gender equality, human rights, social organization, respect for others and community building.  This will help foster a stronger sense of community and will provide opportunities to support and accept the differences that each person brings to the group.

Program 6: Affordable and Sustainable Housing: Construction and Reconstruction of Homes

Program Objective: Construct and reconstruct homes with the families according to their needs and expectations.  Building will comply with safe and sustainable building standards.

A fabrication center will be located at Camp Samán where a series of workshops will focus on furniture making, the construction of the basic elements of pre-fab building and other building components.  Complimentary workshops will also be provided to instruct families on how to build alternative systems in their homes for sanitation, use of grey and black water, water filtration, home design and sustainable building practices using safe materials such as bamboo and wood.  Currently, this program is being supported by the Architecture and Design schools from the University of Azuay.  Proyecto Samán is open to receiving well thought out and planned building proposals.

Proyecto Samán will promote a campaign to encourage donors to provide monetary support and donation of specified materials and tools needed to implement the workshops and construction of homes with the families.

NOTE: All workshops, talks and training courses will be available to the entire community of Canoa so that the learning experiences can ripple out through the community.

NOTE: Experienced volunteers who wish to be a part of our Family Services Programs are invited to fill out our volunteer form and explain your interests and ideas.

Reintegration into a permanent home (phase 3):

The execution of the Family Services Programs and the guidance that each individual and family will receive throughout their stay at Camp Samán will provide them with the needed tools to be able to successfully transition out of the camp and reintegrate back into a permanent and sustainable living situation.  They will have received the support needed to have a dignified and healthy future that provides them with a sense of safety and well-being.

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