IQUITOS - Portal to the Amazon by Cliff Tulpa, Author

Page 37

The 9th Annual Belen Festival, August 5-17, 2014, brought 130 clowns from 16 nations together with the children and families of the Belen neighborhood in Iquitos, Peru, a gateway city to the Amazon. Sponsored by Lima based Bolaroja and Gesundheit Institute, clown volunteers returned to the streets of Pueblo Libre, Belen’s riverside district, continuing this collaborative community development project. Clown volunteers from ages 2 to 75 (60 of whom were newcomers) joined with the residents of Belen in an intensive in joyful volunteer service. Parades opened and closed the festival to celebrate the return of the clowns and the joy of

another completed Belen Festival. The celebration echoed through the tightly packed streets of Belen, as music provided by clown musicians and the Peruvian Navy Marching Band combined with the driving Murga rhythms of the percussionists. The theme of this year’s festival, “Nutrition”, was designed to address the high incidence of malnutrition, which affects one out of three Pueblo Libre children. A traveling street theater production with costumes, music and dance, demonstrated the combination of local and readily available food groups to achieve optimum nutrition. Over the course of the festival, the performance was enjoyed by hundreds of Belen Pueblo Libre children and parents.