Alianza Arkana

The Arkana Alliance is committed to raising awareness about the current environmental and social crises in the Amazon; supporting the creation, connection and strengthening of strategic networks and regional and community-based alliances; and inspiring positive change at local, national and international levels to protect and preserve the people, environment, and ancient traditions of the Amazon Rainforest.
Jul 27, 2016

Amplifying Indigenous Voices

Video screening in Pucallpa (Credit: Uchunya).
Video screening in Pucallpa (Credit: Uchunya).

“Human existence cannot be silent nor can it be nourished by false words, but only by true words, with which men and women transform the world. To exist humanly is to name the world, to change it.”          Paulo Freire

It can be all too easy for urban-dwellers to take for granted the huge advances in communications technology of the last decades and the new possibilities these technologies open up to us. Here in Ucayali, however, the majority of the population faces a very different situation: a study of social progress indicators published in May rated access to information and telecommunications across Ucayali at just 33.95 out of a possible 100. This fact is compounded by another factor identified in the same study: that access to basic knowledge (literacy, numeracy and primary education) is more restricted in Ucayali (48.83) than anywhere else in Peru. This situation creates a series of serious barriers to communities denouncing abuses and effectively defending their rights.

Within this context, during the past months much of the work myself and other volunteers involved in our ecosocial justice program have been engaged in has revolved around putting communication tools at the disposal of the communities we support, opening up channels of communication and facilitating the better flow of critical information.

In collaboration with the Shipibo documentary-maker, Ronald Suárez, and in coordination with the Federation of Native Communities of the Ucayali (FECONAU), we supported the community of Santa Clara de Uchunya to produce a short, entirely crowd-funded video which gathers community testimonies about the human impacts of lack of secure land tenure, massive deforestation and the clearance of the forests upon which the community has traditionally relied to make way for an oil palm plantation. This video has proven to be a powerful advocacy tool here in Peru, where it has been widely viewed through social networks and in public screenings in Pucallpa, Lima and Cusco, as well as in more than 30 meetings across Europe and in the United States, with various governments, non-governmental agencies and industry bodies, such as the RSPO.

Furthermore, we have organized and facilitated a series of trainings to build up the communications capacities of both indigenous organisations, such as FECONAU, as well as local communities, such as Santa Clara de Uchunya. In these trainings, we have explored how the media works, how indigenous peoples across the world are harnessing alternative and digital media to make their voices heard about the issues affecting them and critically analysed the local mainstream media landscape, which generally provides few opportunities for rural-dwelling indigenous people to talk about the problems affecting them. Participants have engaged in the practical work of learning to use a variety of communication tools for themselves, so that they can communicate about the situations they face to ever-widening networks. The task of supporting and strengthening indigenous communication is surely an integral step towards these communities transforming their world for the better. Many thanks for stepping up to support this work.

In solidarity,

Thomas

Links:

Jun 7, 2016

Another busy three months!

Offering homeopathic treatment in Bena Jema
Offering homeopathic treatment in Bena Jema

First of all, I'd like to update you on the learning community.

We were due to have a course with Mitch Schultz entitled 'Open Source Reality' in early May. Unfortunately, Mitch became seriously ill and was hospitalized around this time. We are planning to offer the course again when he is fully recovered.

Also, I have been trying to get in touch with Dennis McKenna about the course he was offering us on 'The Chemistry of the Amazon', which was postponed from last year. So far, I have not received any replies from him. I will keep trying.

If any of you have any ideas about a ten day on-line course relevant to our work that you would like to see offered, please write to me at: paul@alianzaarkana.org.

The schools and universities finally returned to classes in April after a general strike in Pucallpa and the national elections, so the last three months have been busy.

Our pilot intercultural health project was carried out by Nine Uhlich, a German midwife and homeopath working with us, and Carolina Mahua, a Shipibo woman wirth extensive knowledge of plant medicines, for one month in May in the urban community of Bena Jema. This has been very successful and early results in terms of better health care are very promising.

They have been able to offer high quality personalized attention and good alternative medical care to 140 individuals. Additionally they have treated around 60 of the children in the primary school for parasites, as well as made the plant medicine for parasites widely available in the community. This work is highly cost-effective. All of this has been achieved with a budget of $500 USD for one months work.

Other highlights of the last three months have been:

  • The continuing development of a project to publish a Shipibo childrens book, based on the paintings of 30 spirits of medicinal plants by acclaimed Shipibo visionary artist, Lastenia Canayo.
  • Planting a medicinal garden of 75 different plants, in the form of  a pathway that people can walk through, as part of our permaculture/education project in Santa Clara. Our Shipibo permaculture expert will be teaching about these medicinal plants in the primary school and we will also be using the book with the paintings of Lastenia Canayo to develop this work with medicinal plants further as it is a key aspect of traditional Shipibo culture.
  • Taking on four new scholarship students, three of whom are young women from the community of Santa Clara, where we have our major permaculture project. We are paying their university fees as well as offering them additional classes in English and computer skills and a personal tutor.
  • Hosting a short visit of two people from one of our international partner organizations, the Swedish NGO, Asociación Amazónica Sueca, together with two people from the University of Gothenburg. This short visit was to plan a further visit of around 50 people from the University of Gothenburg, in two groups, next november, which we will be hosting.
  • Renewing contact with the new administration at the indigenous university in Pucallpa.

 

Finally many thanks for your ongoing support. Receiving regular donations this way provides a backbone of funding that we can rely on and helps make us more independent of the vagaries of different grant-giving cycles.

In appreciation,

Dr Paul Roberts

Intercultural Education Director, Alianza Arkana

Lastenia
Lastenia's painting of the spirit of ginger plant
Meeting at indigenous university in Yarina
Meeting at indigenous university in Yarina
Visit to the community of Santa Teresita
Visit to the community of Santa Teresita
Medicinal garden pathway
Medicinal garden pathway
May 12, 2016

Intercutural health and education

Painting of the spirit of the plant Chiricsanango
Painting of the spirit of the plant Chiricsanango

The last three months have been busy.

In addition to our scholarship students returning to classes at their respective universities, and the schools re-opening after the long summer break - after the first round of national elections in early April - we have begun three important new projects.

Two of these projects were featured in a recent blog. See here:

https://alianzaarkana.wordpress.com/2016/04/28/two-new-projects-the-small-two-women-wandering-clinic-and-lastenias-book/

We now have a budget for the book project and funding for it from an individual donor, so we plan to begin that soon, which means we will be commissioning 30-50 paintings for the book from acclaimed Shipibo artist, Latenia Canayo. You can see some photos of her beautiful and interesting work with this report, as well as a photo of the team of people from Alianza Arkana and our indigenous partner organization, AIDI, working on this..

The intercultural health project finished in the urban comunity of Bena Jema at the end of April run jointly by Carolina, a Shipibo expert in plant medicine and Nine, a German midwife and homeopath,  and we will be offering the same mobile health service, combining Western homeopathy and traditional Shipibo plant medicine, visiting families in their homes in the adjacent Shipibo urban community of Jon Hocking in June.

The third project is an extension of our scholarship program.

We currently offer a full scholarship program worth around $1000 USD a year for five to six years to six selected Shipibo young people to study at University. We would like to be able to offer more of these scholarships but need people to sponsor these scholarships and recognize that it is a major comitment to fund a student at university for $1000 USD per year for five to six years.

We have, therefore, recently supplemented this scholarship program with a further scheme to pay the university fees for a further four students, who have just started at university this April. University fees here are not expensive - around $100 USD per year! - but our paying them is a great help to the students and their families.

We are also providing these students with additional classes in English and computer skills, as well as a personal tutor. In the attached photo you can see three of the students and their families together with Dr Paul Roberts, Intercultural Education Director of Alianza Arkana, and Antonia Bratzke, a German volunteer who is teaching the students computing.

Lastenia holding painting
Lastenia holding painting
Team from AIDI and AA working on book project
Team from AIDI and AA working on book project
Our two health workers attending to an elder
Our two health workers attending to an elder
Students and their families with staff from AA
Students and their families with staff from AA
 

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