I am happy and at the same time sad to announce the recent addition of 78 hectares of jungle to the Itapoa Reserve. The newly acquired protected land will be called Itapoa’s Jevon Newman Forest.
Jevon Newman was a young man who I met when he came to visit the Itapoa Reserve in 2007. We became friends and after sharing my experience in the Choco Rainforest, he enthusiastically joined our fight to prevent further deforestation of the jungle. In 2008, he came back with the idea of buying a piece of jungle to preserve it, a passion that began to demonstrate when he was just 11 years old.
One morning of that year, we went deep into the jungle to see the property with a group of friends, volunteers and land sellers. It was very early, 7 am, when we began to walk from Cristobal Colon, the last town that one can get to by car. That day we got lost several times before reaching the first piece of land, we climbed hills and crossed rivers; the path, as always, was full of mud, but his enthusiasm never declined. We arrived to the property, after 6 hours of walking; we inspected it and walked back the way we had come. It took us another 6 hours to reach Cristobal Colon. It gets dark very early in the jungle and the only light to help us got out was the light of my cell phone.
It was a remarkable day of exchanging ideas, dreams, passions together with Jan a German Volunteer, Angel a dear Ecuadorian friend, his cousin Manuel our taxi driver in Puerto Quito, and Don Clemente Bailon a noble man. Something that I found fascinating about Jevon was his eyes radiating great satisfaction when seeing the virgin forest and his smile filled with joy after observing a monkey or a toucan.
On day number 2, Jevon departed just with Don Bailon to see his forest. He came back with the same eyes and smile that had first caught my attention, talking about the beauty of that piece of land and the wonderful waterfall that it had. Right away he decided to make the deal and bought the land, despite all the legal issues he would encounter. It was only his unselfish passion for the jungle that drove Jevon to purchase a piece of land to which he could not formally hold a title of property, just a legal possession of Celmente Bailon whom Jevon trusted to keep the virgin rainforest protected.
Jevon had also volunteered at an emergency hospital in Quito. It was this experience and his work as an EMT in Milwaukee that led to a desire to give back to mankind through the practice of medicine. He graduated from Medical School at University College Dublin in Ireland in June 2012. Jevon then moved to
Arkansas to start
his residency in Emergency Medicine. It was there, less than 1 month after his 30th birthday, that Jevon, while riding a bicycle, was struck by a motorist. He died in the early morning hours of July 8, 2012.
A few months later Tim Plummer, Jevon’s close friend who I had met during one of Jevon’s trips to Ecuador, gave me the bad news. Again, the only thing that came to my mind was Jevon’s smile that would not rejoice in the jungle any more – my feelings of sadness ran very deep. With the help of his dear parents: Alida Evans and Joseph Newman, we have just recently completed the paperwork and legal documents turning the ownership of the property in the Canande Region over to Itapoa Reserve. I wish to thank them for the perseverance and patience needed for this transaction.
My son Andre and I will protect the Jevon Newman Forest of Itapoa Reserve. This virgin forest is home of countless endemic species and will remain untouched by loggers and squatters.
Thank you Jevon, Alida and Joseph
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