Looking back at our first year

We’re looking back on an exciting first year since our founding in October 2020, and we want to share the small and big successes of that first year with you!

Authors: Ana Rosa de Lima and Kyra Hertel
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Everything started in October 2020 when a new generation of young leaders from the Amazon area came together to start Meli – as an organization aiming to transform the Amazon region into an “Arc of Regeneration”.
2021 was a tough year with a lot of challenges. In those difficult times Meli Bees Network became a wonderful community that showed us all: If we stick together, wonderful things can happen! So let’s have a look into what we created in Meli’s first year!

Our work

The social and political context Amazonian communities live in is very complex. A part of these communities are the guardians of the few areas of primary forest in the region, forming “green islands” within a landscape that has been encroached by monoculture and the widely reported forest burning. Some of them were victims of human rights abuses such as modern slavery or even assassination of their leaders.

Meli works with communities in the Amazon area, researchers and environmentally engaged groups around the globe. With activities such as native beekeeping, agroforestry and primary forest protection Meli has created activities that allow people and land to flourish. Let us introduce some of the communities in the Amazon region to you that Meli has been working with in its first year.

Our partners in the Amazonregion

Bracinho do Icatu: Quilombola Women share their stories
Meli’s very first project was with the Quilombola women from Bracinho do Icatu – they were our first partners in the Amazon Region!
The project funded by Ecam – Equipe de Conservação da Amazônia allowed us to bring a storytelling workshop to the women that wanted to learn more about this topic. Still, our hearts are full of joy when we think back to the workshop we had with them! With Cynthia Rabelo, Nubia Suriane and Vitoria Cruz, we created a booklet with information on how they can tell their stories and strengthen their voices.


Frei Henri: Agroforestry for the protection of the Amazon and its local community
The smallholder community Frei Henri is located in the amazonian “Arc of Deforestation”. To strengthen our relationship with them and hear the local stories we here also developed a storytelling workshop. On this base, we prepared our agroforestry work with the inspiring community. They participated in two Agroecology workshops led by two of Meli’s experienced Agroecologists, Francisco Alves and José Enio.
Today, the Frei Henri community is developing their own agroforestry system and is ready to establish their native beekeeping area in January! Supported by the L’Occitane Foundation we are able to support this strong community and multiply their positive effect on the Amazon region!


IALA: Care of Native Amazonian Bees to build the Arc of Regeneration
The IALA Amazônico is an institute of agroecology from the Palmares smallholder community. This is the first community we could support in building native beehives in the Amazon region! But first our bee-expert Thalita Barredo held a workshop about stingless beekeeping. It was so great to see how our friends from IALA, young and adult, had a lot of fun while learning and building their first beehives! In a storytelling workshop led by our specialist Cynthia Rabelo the people also learned how to strengthen their roots and voices. Big thanks go to Hand-in-Hand-Fonds by Rapunzel and Deutsche Umwelthilfe for making this possible!

Printi-Pàr indigenous village: Native beekeeping and more
The Gavião Leader Tuxati Jonkahynti Jakankrati Parkateje inspired Meli even before its official start!
After many challenges during the world’s pandemic times, the dreams we gathered together during our first conversations about native bees are finally turning into a reality – you can learn more about this partnership very soon!


1° de Março smallholder community: Agroforestry for sustainable livelihoods in the arch of deforestation in the Amazon, Brazil
You can find the 1° de Marco smallholder community directly in the area with severe forest loss in Brazil – the Arc of Deforestation. With the support of Ecosia, we are able to support the community in acting on the reforestation of the Amazon’s most endangered areas!


The fruitful cooperation with all these communities was only made possible because Meli Bees Network was supported by the partnerships mentioned above and more. So, we want to thank all our partners that allowed us to flourish and grow with the Amazon communities!


Events and Connections

Another source of energy during this year was the engagement in events, network groups and international competitions.

We were shortlisted at Lush Spring Prize 2021 – Ancient and Indigenous Wisdom Award.
With our participation at Klimawoche, we received the 3rd place in the non-profit category of the “Digitizing the Global Goals”.
We joint Umundu Lisbon 2021, a collective festival for sustainable transformation.
We were also selected as a Food Systems Game Changers Lab, as a part of the cohort Elevating Indigenous Food System


A huge thank you!

The fruitful cooperation with the communities was only made possible because Meli Bees Network was supported by our wonderful partnerships. So, we want to thank our partners that allowed us to flourish and grow with the Amazon communities.

ProjectTogethergGmbH, supported Meli with a scholarship to ensure the development of Meli’s activities for 12 months long!

Ecam was our first partner in a project. They supported Quilombola Women to share their Stories with our storytelling workshop.

The L’Occitane Foundation and L’Occitane Germany partnered with us and financed the project Agroforestry for the protection of the Amazon and its local community, to support the smallholder community Frei Henri.

The Hand in Hand-Fonds,supports the development of a meliponary (nativebeekeeping area) at IALA Amazônico, an institute of agroecology from the Palmares smallholder community

Ecosia founded the project Agroforestry for sustainable livelihoods in the arch of deforestation in the Amazon, Brazil; to support the agroforestry activities at the 1° de Março smallholder community.

And next year?

We are so thankful for those experiences that allow us to continue our work with the communities in the Amazon. With Meli Bees Network we deliver thriving cooperation to achieve a large and effective positive impact on the global climate. This is only possible thanks to you as part of the thriving community Meli has grown to be over the last year.
Looking back at this last year we cannot wait for the next 365 days to come.
We have a lot of plans! So stay tuned – there is a lot to see and experience together with Meli and the Amazonian communities in 2022!

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