Nov 4, 2020

Picking up the work in the communities

The 'agrofloresta', before and after
The 'agrofloresta', before and after

Dear Friends and Supporters,

We sincerely hope that you and your families are well and safe, as we are slowly approaching the end of the year and holiday season. In July, when we last wrote to you, government restrictions due to the pandemic were slowly rolled back. For us at Chaikuni, this meant to go ahead with full speed, trying to recover some of the months we had “lost” to the state of emergency.

Over the last three months we went back to being out there in the communities, working with local farmers and their families. You might remember: we set ourselves the goal to implement 24 hectares of chacras integrales in four neighboring communities to our permaculture center, by the end of 2021. The aim is to recover, improve, regenerate and diversify the (often degraded) farming areas of local families, putting them under a diverse and healthy agro-forestry system, producing an abundance of food, timber, medicine, and other benefits. To get their food forests established and under way, on three occasions for each participant, we offer technical and logistical support, as well as manpower, in a so called minga. A minga refers to a day of work in the field, where the owner is joined by the extended family and friends who lend a hand.

After re-establishing contact with the local farmers in august and visiting them to speak of their plans and ambitions for their farming plots, starting in September, we facilitated and accompanied 13 mingas. This means that, with Chaikuni’s help, 13 local farmers took the first step to establishing a chacra integral on their land, with each plot being approximately 1 hectare in size, some slightly less. Many more interested individuals have signed up to our project, whom our team will attend over the next months.

We have also started to support each of the four communities to get organized and work on communal land use planning. The objective is for every community to define a communal agreement over how to sustainably use and control their territory and its resources over the next years and decades. We had a GIS specialist help us preparing special maps for each of the communities. Last week we held the first communal land use planning work shop in the San Pedro village. As you can see in the photos, the villagers got extremely engaged.

In the meantime, our own experimental agrofloresta-plot that we installed in March continues to grow wildly. What was barren earth in March, is now producing: Yucca (manioc), maize, Chaia, Katuk, beans, and the Cocona fruit have already been harvested, and much more produce is to be expected in the coming months. We prepared some new “then and now” pictures so you can get a taste of this.

While many parts of the world currently experience the feared second wave of the Corona-pandemic, we hope that the number of Covid cases remain low in our region, so that we can continue our work in the communities. We would like to genuinely thank you for all your support to our Institute and the local communities we work with in the Peruvian Amazon.

With profound gratitude,

The Chaikuni Institute Team

The 'agrofloresta', before and after
The 'agrofloresta', before and after
The 'agrofloresta', before and after
The 'agrofloresta', before and after
Working with local farmers and their families.
Working with local farmers and their families.
Last workshop with the community
Last workshop with the community
Oct 15, 2020

Support & Protect Amazonian Healing Traditions

Dear friends,

We are awed and honored by your continued support of our Emergency Fund for Shipibo Healers & Local Workers relief campaign, thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

Your donations have been absolutely vital to the local staff and Shipibo healers from the Temple, Shipibo Rao, and Niwe Rao Xobo during this difficult time. So far, we have made disbursements totaling 4,500 soles to each of the 80 individuals in need, are preparing for the next disbursal, and will continue to distribute all donated funds as long as we have your support through the campaign. 

With borders in Peru slowly opening to travelers from select countries in South and Central America, we still await word on plans to open borders further. This means that the impacts felt from the shutdown of international tourism continue to be felt by many.

Our best prediction for when we will all be able to resume our work and retreats is March of next year, and our intention is to extend this relief campaign to allow the donations to our beloved healers and local staff to continue until that time.

Therefore, your support is still needed.

If you have the means right now, please consider making a new or recurring donation to support the Shipibo healers and local workers from the Temple, Shipibo Rao, and Niwe Rao Xobo today.

Thank you again for your alliance and support of those who practice and protect the ancient healing traditions of the Amazon!

In solidarity, 

Chaikuni Institute & Temple of the Way of Light

Oct 5, 2020

Resilience and New Challenges with the Indigenous Students after the Lockdown

Students attending a photography workshop
Students attending a photography workshop

Dear Friends and Supporters,

We hope your situation -in all the aspects of your life- has improved. Fortunately, the worst part of the Corona pandemic appears to be over here in Iquitos. As you may have read, reports claim that Iquitos is the city with the highest immunity against COVID-19. Research estimates that 70% of the population had contracted the virus. Today, most people go about their life in a completely normal way. Although the state of emergency continues, many restrictions are slowly being lifted.

The public university UNAP, where most of the indigenous students of the OEPIAP are enrolled, started classes on July 1st. However, all classes are strictly virtual. During the first few weeks, this created a chaotic situation: the students had serious difficulties due to a lack of computer skills, and most didn´t have funds to access the internet. At Chaikuni we quickly responded to this situation and purchased five computers, a new printer and ten USB sticks with unlimited Internet, implementing a computer lab. The lab is managed by three students, who are in permanent contact with our team.

A few weeks ago, fortunately, the UNAP handed out internet modems to the students considered as poor or extremely poor by the Peruvian state. Thus, 61 students of the OEPIAP benefited from this support. At the same time, 18 students of OEPIAP were able to get a scholarship from the NGO Chirapaq, which included a personal computer. Furthermore, we have identified eight potential applicants for state scholarships next year and are accompanying them in their application.

If studying under normal circumstances was a challenge, studying “virtually” is even more so, putting many of the indigenous students at risk of dropping out. The terrible internet connection in the Peruvian amazon often doesn´t allow them to properly follow the classes, which is having consequences on their academic performance. Therefore, we started to organized more intense tutoring classes as soon as the situation allowed us to. On July 23rd, the first math class started with twenty OEPIAP students. To date, we offer six reinforcement courses: Basic Math, Advanced Math, Physics, Statistics, Oratory and English. All of them have at least six students enrolled, and, together with the teachers, we continually supervise their performance.

As you can see, at Chaikuni we had to quickly adapt to the new situation created by the pandemic, and so we did. Moreover, over the coming days, we will slightly adjust our project here on the GlobalGiving page to better respond to the current situation.

The students – as we all - also needed a break from the stressful situation of the corona pandemic. To do this, we got back to offering other extra-academic activities such as self-representation, musical creation, photography and video workshops. Most notably are the workshops we co-organized with Radio Ucamara, a local radio station and long-term ally of the Chaikuni Institute.

Always strictly complying with security protocols, a handful of particularly creative students got together and reflected on their experiences during the pandemic, writing lyrics and creating several music videos, singing and rapping in Spanish and their native languages. The videos are available on YouTube (click here). Reflecting on identity, health, gender, and other current issues, these creative workshops increase the artistic (singing, body language, composition) and technical (camera management, production, photo and video editing) skills of the participants, while at the same time stimulating self-reflection, interculturality and friendship.

Finally, OEPIAP reached another great achievement. On August 5th, UNAP signed an agreement to hand over a 13-hectares of land to the students on a long-term lease, with the objective to finally build a permanent student centre for indigenous students in Iquitos. Now, OEPIAP, with our support, is looking for new alliances with private or public institutions to finally build their own residence. While still long ways to go, this is without a doubt a step in the right direction to accomplish their dream, all of it happening during these challenging times.

As always, we thank you so much for your support to the indigenous youth in Iquitos, the future leaders of Peruvian Amazon. We continue our efforts thanks to you. Together we can achieve great things.

With gratitude and optimism,

The Indigenous Students of OEPIAP and The Chaikuni Institute Team

How the students represent the pandemic situation
How the students represent the pandemic situation
Leonardo Tello (Ticuna), director of Radio Ucamara
Leonardo Tello (Ticuna), director of Radio Ucamara
After the lockdown new challenges appeared
After the lockdown new challenges appeared
 
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