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.
Apr 28, 2016

The Urgency of Solidarity: Weaving Relationships, Strengthening Networks

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P3160361.JPG

My name is Thomas Younger; I am originally from the Northeast of England and have divided much of my adult life between South America and Scotland. Since arriving in Yarinacocha in February to begin coordinating the Ecosocial Justice Program, I have set about the slow but vital work of establishing and nurturing relationships of solidarity and trust with both our Shipibo and non-indigenous allies. In keeping with Alianza Arkana’s commitment to supporting community-led initiatives, I’ve sought out every opportunity to converse with Shipibo community members, leaders and local activists about what shape ‘ecosocial justice’ might take here in Ucayali - departing especially from the Shipibo notion of jakon jati, or the actions needed to lead a good life - what steps we might take collectively to create and sustain the jakon nete (‘the good world/environment’)  and which barriers currently impede us.

I have co-hosted several events to facilitate this ongoing work. In early March, we welcomed Juan Arellano, a digital activist and editor of Global Voices en Español, to hold a workshop on using social networks to generate greater awareness of the injustices facing Amazonian indigenous peoples. Indigenous communicators, including representatives from several local organisations including AIDI, REDCIP, IDEARA and OJIRO, came together to analyse and discuss how they can leverage digital media in defence of their territorial and cultural rights.

Later that month, we hosted a video screening and discussion as part of our developing work on the urgent problem of palm oil expansion, which in recent years has become a key driver of deforestation in the Peruvian Amazon and a source of serious rights violations for indigenous peoples. This public screening of a community video produced by LifeMosaic created a space where Shipibo participants on the frontline of palm oil expansion could hear a range of community voices from Indonesia, currently one of the main global producers of palm oil, and discuss their own situation in light of this. Washington Bolívar, an indigenous leader deeply involved in the Shipibo community of Santa Clara de Uchunya’s fight to protect their ancestral territory from a land grab and deforestation led by a palm oil company, observed that “it is the same pair of scissors that is severing the umbilical cords of our communities.” 

We have since held a workshop in Santa Clara de Uchunya, in which over 30 participants reflected on the defence of their territory and discussed how they might develop a community-led communications strategy. Following this workshop, we equipped the community with a camera which they will use to document the ongoing destruction of their forests and rivers, to help make visibie these violations and their struggle to overcome them.

Weaving these relationships is crucial to the efficacy of our ecosocial justice work. Likewise, our relationship with you, as a supporter of this work, is also critical to enabling us to carry out this work and so it is that I end on a note of deep gratitude for your continuing support.

In solidarity, 

Thomas

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10410706_1150724524938284_1688122337121148027_n.jpg
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DSC_1772.jpeg
Mar 10, 2016

A busy three months!

Activity from Girls for World Program Jan 2016
Activity from Girls for World Program Jan 2016

Dear all

First of all, as always, many thanks for your ongoing support.

Secondly, about the learning community. We now have dates for the next course with Mitch Schultz, Director of the acclaimed documentary, 'DMT: The Spirit Molecule', which you can see on Youtube here. Mitch will be offering his ten-day on line course on 'Open Source Reality' from 2nd to 11th April. I will write to you separately about that nearer the time.

I am still waiting to hear from Dennis McKenna about the revised dates for his course on 'The Chemistry of the Amazon'.

In relation to our work here, based in Pucallpa, after a relatively quiet start to the year for the first part of January, we have had a very busy last two months. The highlights include:

  • In February we welcomed four new volunteers, (which I imagine most of you read about in our newsletter) and since then we have a further two new volunteers working with us, one doing research for his Masters program in Norway on ayahuasca tourism and its effect on the Shipibos, and another helping us with communication. Increasingly, we are attracting high calibre, talented, committed volunteers.
  • One of our new volunteers, Thomas Younger, is heading up our eco-social justice program. He is first talking to many indigenous leaders here about what the needs of the Shipibo communities are. At the same time, he and another colleague are working with a Shipibo film-maker to make a documentary about what is happening with respect to palm oil cultivation in a neraby Shipibo community. Palm oil cultivation is rapidly emerging as the latest threat to the Amazonian ecosystem and its indigenous peoples.
  • Our work with young Shipibo women and girls has continued with a further five-day personal development workshop for teenage girls from the community of Paoyan. This is run in collaboration with the US-based non-profit, 'Girls for the World' and is the fourth year in succession we have successively run this program. Additionally, Denise VillaIva, a very talented Mexican volunteer working with us, ran a two-day workshop with mainly girls and two young men from the local urbal community of Bena Jema, using animations to explore themes from their everyday lives. You can read more about this on our blog here.

best wishes  Paul

Girls leaving the workshop location
Girls leaving the workshop location
Denise at the animation workshop
Denise at the animation workshop
Thomas, Eco-social Justice Director for AA
Thomas, Eco-social Justice Director for AA
Feb 17, 2016

Work with Shipibo Girls and Holiday Courses

Artistic activity on Girls for the World Workshop
Artistic activity on Girls for the World Workshop

The last three months have been relatively quiet for education in the Peruvian Amazon as the schoolchildren and university students have been enjoying their long summer vacations. Most of our scholarship students take the opportunity to return to their home communities or go away from Pucallpa to work in this period.

However, during this time, we, in collaboration with the US-based NGO, Girls for the World, ran our fifth five-day personal development program for Shipibo girls between 13-19 years old. This was organized with girls and mothers from the community of Poayan, with whom we have good links, which is about five hours downriver from Pucallpa in a fast boat (twelve hours by slow boat!).

The girls actually travelled to a residential center near Pucallpa to receive the workshop, as have seen the benefits of them being away from the community and the often unwelcome interest of young men in what they are doing when we once ran this within the same community that the girls were from.

Like all the other programs, this was a great success. Additionally, the two mothers who accompanied the girls, who are important female leaders within their community, got great personal benefit from the workshop and are very keen for us to do another workshop and follow-up with the girls from this community.

Our other main activity during this time has been to offer holiday activities for the school children in the urban community of Bena Jema, where we have two volunteers working one year with the primary school. This has been a mixture of traditional educational activities such as help with reading and writing as well as artistic workshop activity focussing on creating representations of traditional stories, which the children investigated by talking to elders in their community. The photos show flags created by the children with emblematic characters from the stories of their culture.

Next March, we plan to start the pilot phase of a new project which will provide a free health service to women and children in the same community of Bena Jema. This will be jointly led by a German midwife and homeopath, who has already worked with us offering courses for traditional Shipibo midwives, and a Shipibo woman with great knowledge of medicinal plants. This represents the essence of good intercultural education - combining the best of what Western and indigenous cultures can offer, in this case in the area of health.

Leaving on the boat
Leaving on the boat
Displaying flags made with traditional symbols
Displaying flags made with traditional symbols
Talking to an elder about traditional stories
Talking to an elder about traditional stories
 

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