Dear Friends and Supporters,
Perseverance can take us far. The youth of Amazonian indigenous student organization OEPIAP are a great example of this: in the face of obstacles like discrimination, unequal opportunities and life in Iquitos city, for the large majority a several days boat ride away from their communities, they continue to pursue their dream of higher education and becoming professionals, come what may.
Over the past months, the students have been hard at work pushing the regional government to determine how to move forward with the land lease granted to them in late 2017. The students are eager to move to the allocated land plot as quickly as possible, and are also planning construction and alternative actions with our team this month, with the hope to pressure authorities to comply with their promises to initiate the design and construction plans for the permanent student centre. Discussions with the regional government have been underway about construction plans for two large malocas which would hold up to 80 people and provide a temporary solution.
Turning the student centre from dream to reality is a gruelling process, and we are working tirelessly with the students to ensure all steps keep moving forward. The bureaucratization of processes, as is involved in the allocating land and construction development, often delays advances. But the students keep the faith: “We are determined to move to the land as soon as possible”, says Edgar, President of OEPIAP and indigenous Kichwa student (pictured on the left, below).
Your donations and support to this campaign continue to provide a much necessary fuel for the realization of this youth’s dream and to cover some of their most urgent necessities – such as lobby work and covering the travel costs of OEPIAP student leaders to meetings with different actors. Over the past month, student leaders have been in intensive meetings to define the terms of a new agreement between the regional government and University of The Peruvian Amazon (UNAP). Much like the former agreement, which expired in December 2017, the new agreement being drafted outlines the regional government and university’s commitments to cover or contribute to housing, food, transport, security, health, admission and interculturality for the students. With so many previous commitments left unfulfilled, the students know that constant political pressure will have to be maintained in order to ensure that the authorities stay true to their word and honour intercultural education beyond signed papers.
Your donations also mean we’ve been able to reinitiate a regular women’s circle, following the request of indigenous female students of OEPIAP. Aged between 16 and 24 years old, women represent just 10% of the indigenous student organization and often face gender discrimination in their communities and in the city, making it all the more difficult to access higher education. “Every indigenous woman has the right to study”, says Leonarda, a Ticuna student. “The women's circles provide an important space for empowerment and personal development for these young indigenous women”, says Sandra, Chaikuni’s Student Monitor who guides the women's circles through thematic discussions, experience sharing, education, art, healing and music.
Empowerment of the indigenous student organization OEPIAP is at the core of our mission. Strengthening identity, honouring indigenous knowledge and increasing the visibility of indigenous students in Iquitos and beyond are a vital part of this empowerment work, and find beautiful expression in the newly released music video ‘Babel’, a production created in collaboration with indigenous media Radio Ucamara, OEPIAP and with support of Pan-Amazon Ecclesial Network (REPAM). This unique and exceptional music video unites 9 indigenous youth singing and rapping in 7 indigenous languages including Kukama, Wampis, Kandozi, Awajún, Kichwa, Ticuna and Shawi. Read about it here and watch the video now!
We'll keep you updated with the latest news as we continue to run our campaign for the full goal of $24,000.
If you gave a gift to the campaign during our End of Year Fundraiser, then we hope you’re enjoying listening to our sister organization The Temple of The Way Of Light’s new album of Ayahuasca Ikaro songs featuring indigenous Shipibo healers, sent as a thank you for gifts over $33 made during this period. You can also now get the album here, 50% of all proceeds will go to Chaikuni’s Intercultural Education program.
We thank you for everything you continue to do to support indigenous youth, who are the future of the Amazon.
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With Gratitude & Love,
The Chaikuni Institute Team & Indigenous Students of OEPIAP