Jul 7, 2020

Getting through Corona with Hope

Before & After lockdown in the agroforetry system
Before & After lockdown in the agroforetry system

Dear Friends and Supporters,

On March 15th, only a few days after we wrote to you last time, Peru was put under a strict lockdown due to the corona pandemic. More than 110 days later, the lockdown was finally lifted at the beginning of July. As in most places, however, this doesn´t mean that things just go back to (the hopefully new) normal. At around 3000 new cases daily, infection rates are still
high in Peru. Rather than based on public health criteria, the discontinuation of the quarantine is the result of ordinary people and the government no longer being able to bear the socio-economic costs of “staying inside”.

Our jungle region and city of Iquitos went through a traumatic experience; the lack of a decent health care system, infrastructure, medical personal, medicines and oxygen led to the loss of unnecessarily many lives. While conspicuously exposing the weaknesses of our current “system”, it was a stark and painful reminder of all the failures and thefts committed for decades in our Loreto region. Oil royalties and public funds disappeared in the pockets of public functionaries rather than being invested in health care and education.

While the pandemic impeded us to go about our work in the field during the last months, we, fortunately, had just finished planting three food forests before we were ordered to stay at home. We were also lucky that two of our Chaikuni staff live right next to our permaculture center, and, despite the lockdown, they were able to tend to the agrofloresta throughout the quarantine, while nature was silently performing its miracles. In just a bit over three months, our agrofloresta plot went from barren earth to a lush emerging green, already gifting us with its first product, a local species of beans. The picture series at the bottom of this report - taken by our local staff Eder Baneo through his cellphone – documents the growth of the agrofloresta planted in March. We hope it conveys an idea of just how diverse and productive this system is.

While we were bound to our homes, immersed in the uncertainty of the situation, we – or shall we better say YOU – also achieved another great victory. Showing international solidarity and reciprocity at a level that has deeply touched us, you all made our Climate Action Campaign fundraiser a huge success. Thanks to your support, our project was chosen as one of
five organizations to be part of the year-long GlobalGiving Climate Action Fund, which will bring us further funding and new platforms to share our experience, hopefully inspiring many others to join the movement.

The successful campaign directly helped us as an organization to continue on through this global crisis and time of renewal. We can´t wait to go back out to the communities, put our hands in the soil, and continue the work with local families to plant food forests and regenerate soils and forests.

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

Before & After lockdown in the agroforetry system
Before & After lockdown in the agroforetry system
Before & After lockdown in the agroforestry system
Before & After lockdown in the agroforestry system
Jun 18, 2020

We made it! But let's keep going, your support is still needed!

Dear friends,

Wow! Thanks to your donations, we've now surpassed our initial goal of $80,000! 

Amidst the heightened energies and hardships being experienced by many people and communities in the past few months as a result of COVID-19, and now with a spotlight on the pervasive pandemic of systemic racism, you have helped create a spark of hope with your contribution to the healers and workers who serve the healing of our global family when it is so urgently needed. We are humbled by how the community has responded to support this initiative with such generosity and compassion, and extend our deepest gratitude to you on behalf of all of the recipients.

As a small token of our appreciation, we are excited to share with you an ikaro sung by Maestra Ynes Sanchez to heal and cleanse our planet and its people in response to what is happening in the world right now. In addition to her work at the Temple, Maestra Ynes is the matriarch of her family center Niwe Rao Xobo, and the mother of Maestro Jose Lopez Sanchez of the Temple and founder of Shipibo Rao.

Ikaro for COVID-19 from Maestra Ynes Sanchez

Some Realities Facing the People of the Amazon

What we are all experiencing these past months has been challenging in a myriad of ways, and for some of us and for some communities, the impacts have been highly detrimental. 

The unfortunate reality across the Amazon basin is that, apart from eco, mainstream, and medical tourism, lucrative job opportunities are most often limited to ecocidal industries such as corporate agriculture, petroleum extraction, logging, and mining, which cause extensive damage, destroying ecosystems and harming the health and well-being of the earth and its inhabitants. Many workers may have no other option than to seek employment in these harmful sectors unless they receive support through this crisis. 

Another reality is that many people in the Amazon have stopped living from the land and rely almost entirely on income to buy food. Food packs and financial aid from the Peruvian government are reaching very few people and the very real threat of widespread famine is already present and is increasing on a weekly basis. With sombre predictions for the Peruvian economy for the near future, it will be extremely difficult for most people in the Amazon to earn any income.

Let’s Keep Our Support Coming!

We have now distributed 80% of your donations to the healers and workers at the Temple, Niwe Rao Xobo, and Shipibo Rao and the next distribution is planned for the end of this month. 

Although the number of infected cases in Iquitos and Pucallpa is now dropping, the economic crisis is becoming increasingly dire as the weeks pass. The need for us to continue our efforts in this campaign beyond our initial goal has been made clear and we have now increased our goal to $100,000. This will allow us to increase the amounts we distribute to each individual, continue to provide critical aid, and cover a portion of the cost of living for them and their families until October when we plan to re-open the Temple.

Over the last month, five of the Temple healers became ill, probably with COVID-19. It is difficult to know for sure due to the inaccuracy of the rapid tests that are available in Peru, and also because none of the healers want to go to a clinic/hospital and prefer to work with medicinal plants to treat themselves. Their treatments have been successful and we are very relieved and happy to share that they are all now recovering. 

As the healers have so patiently helped us to see over the years, remembering our solidarity and unity is a vital practice for our wellbeing and growth, both individually and collectively. Thank you again for your alliance and support of the healers and workers who practice and protect the ancient healing traditions of the Amazon. 

Please consider continuing to support them through this time with a monthly donation, and help us spread the word about the campaign through your channels, networks, and conversations! 

With much appreciation, 

Your friends at the Temple of the Way of Light, Niwe Rao Xobo, and Shipibo Rao


Jun 8, 2020

Carrying on through difficult times

Students joining a meeting before emergency state
Students joining a meeting before emergency state

Dear Friends and Supporters,

Wherever you are, we sincerely hope you are healthy and safe. In Peru, the situation the Corona pandemic has caused is serious, particularly in our Amazon region. The government declared a state of emergency and announced strict quarantine measures on March 16, which still largely apply today. Luckily, all the indigenous students of OEPIAP and the team of the Chaikuni Institute are in good health so far.

Fortunately, the Chaikuni Institute was able to offer some support to the 76 young people which currently reside at their temporary student residence, in the form of medicines, cleaning supplies, biosecurity equipment, food and personal hygiene products. A few students, those studying at private universities and institutes, are currently taking online courses. The public University (UNAP) has been evaluating the possibility of starting the following month with non-contact classes. Therefore, we are overseeing the purchase of computers and internet access to respond to this new requirement.

February and March are the months when entry exams to higher education institutions typically occur. Indigenous youth continued to arrive at the OEPIAP for these exams. 38 new youth – including 4 members from the Secoya people, an indigenous group that had never previously been a part of the organization - were registered in the organization’s database during these months, of which 21 entered higher education institutions. Overall, the OEPIAP has seen an increase of new members over the past three years. This also leads to a greater competition for the vacancies of preferential modalities in the public university, specifically concerning the modality for indigenous students. With continuous support and advice from the Chaikuni Institute in negotiations with the UNAP, the OEPIAP achieved that the university increased their vacancies under the preferential modality for indigenous students from 31 to 45, including a place in the department of Medicine, which had never previously been offered.

Despite the lockdown, the students continue to seek new alternatives for a permanent student housing facility. One possibility, a donation of land belonging to the UNAP to establish a permanent residence for indigenous students was discussed, but hasn’t materialized yet. Also, the OEPIAP received support from the Chaikuni Institute in collaborating with the “Plan de Cierre de Brechas del Gobierno” (the Government’s Plan to Close the Gaps). The organization is aligned with indigenous federations and they have participated in meetings on issues that affect the indigenous population in general. They have also established contact with high government authorities seeking support for their goals and aspirations.

Thank you for your constant support to the indigenous youth of the Peruvian Amazon, especially in these difficult times.

With gratitude,

The Indigenous Students of OEPIAP and The Chaikuni Institute Team

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