This week sees the launch of ‘Jungle’, a new film starring Daniel Radcliffe and based on the real-life story of Yossi Ghinsberg who survived getting lost in the Amazon Jungle. Ten years after Yossi escaped, he set up an eco-lodge with the indigenous community of San José de Uchupiamonas that helped rescue him. The lodge, Chalalan, is supported by Christian Aid through its collaboration in ACRE (Access to Capital for Rural Enterprises) and generates jobs and income for the community.
Yossi spent three years with the people of San José de Uchupiamonas building Chalalan in the heart of the Madidi national park in the Bolivian jungle, using local materials and solar-powered electricity. It is 100% owned by the community and thanks to Yossi’s investment and ongoing support, it now employs around 40 local people. It also invests in health and education projects that benefit the 750 people living in San José.
Chalalan is thriving as an eco-tourist destination and has welcomed celebrity guests over the years including Leonardo di Caprio and Harrison Ford. Visitors are taken on jungle treks by indigenous guides who share their knowledge about the wild life and stress the importance of protecting the forest that is threatened by deforestation and the effects of climate change.
On the film ‘Jungle’, Yossi said: ”Working together with [director] Greg McLean and Daniel Radcliffe has been, at times, overwhelming. I never imagined that my story would be told in this way. Any attention that Chalalan receives as a result of this, is just fantastic.”
Commenting on the lodge, Yossi says: “A visit to Chalalan is not for those who simply want to go on vacation, it is a life-changing experience, it is an adventure like no other. You will never forget your time here.
“Chalalan is a beautiful, sustainable and profitable project made by and for the local people. I wanted to give something back and this was the best way I knew how. It is an enchanting place and anyone who wants to experience the Amazon is in good hands here. We’re thankful to Christian Aid and the other ACRE charities for supporting the business and helping it to maximise its potential.”
ACRE is a consortium of five charities – Christian Aid, Practical Action, Twin, Traidcraft and Challenges Worldwide – and supports small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). It helps them to become investment-ready and to access the long-term capital they need to grow, scaling positive social and environmental impact for poor and disadvantaged rural communities.
Emma Donlan, country manager at Christian Aid in Bolivia added: “Yossi’s story is amazing and the work he has done with Chalalan has made a significant impact on the lives of the Uchupiamonas community. We hope that the film ‘Jungle’ will help shine a light on Yossi’s humanitarian efforts in Bolivia and on the importance of supporting enterprises in poor rural settings.”