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 Education  Peru Project #26871

Build An Indigenous Student Centre In the Amazon

by Instituto Chaikuni
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Build An Indigenous Student Centre In the Amazon
Build An Indigenous Student Centre In the Amazon
Build An Indigenous Student Centre In the Amazon
Build An Indigenous Student Centre In the Amazon
Build An Indigenous Student Centre In the Amazon
Build An Indigenous Student Centre In the Amazon
Build An Indigenous Student Centre In the Amazon
Build An Indigenous Student Centre In the Amazon
Build An Indigenous Student Centre In the Amazon
Build An Indigenous Student Centre In the Amazon
Build An Indigenous Student Centre In the Amazon
Build An Indigenous Student Centre In the Amazon
Build An Indigenous Student Centre In the Amazon
Build An Indigenous Student Centre In the Amazon
Build An Indigenous Student Centre In the Amazon
Build An Indigenous Student Centre In the Amazon
Build An Indigenous Student Centre In the Amazon
Build An Indigenous Student Centre In the Amazon
Build An Indigenous Student Centre In the Amazon
Build An Indigenous Student Centre In the Amazon
Build An Indigenous Student Centre In the Amazon
Build An Indigenous Student Centre In the Amazon
Build An Indigenous Student Centre In the Amazon
Build An Indigenous Student Centre In the Amazon
Build An Indigenous Student Centre In the Amazon
Build An Indigenous Student Centre In the Amazon
Build An Indigenous Student Centre In the Amazon
Build An Indigenous Student Centre In the Amazon
Build An Indigenous Student Centre In the Amazon
Build An Indigenous Student Centre In the Amazon
Build An Indigenous Student Centre In the Amazon
Build An Indigenous Student Centre In the Amazon
Build An Indigenous Student Centre In the Amazon
Build An Indigenous Student Centre In the Amazon
Build An Indigenous Student Centre In the Amazon
Build An Indigenous Student Centre In the Amazon
Build An Indigenous Student Centre In the Amazon
Build An Indigenous Student Centre In the Amazon
Build An Indigenous Student Centre In the Amazon
Build An Indigenous Student Centre In the Amazon
Build An Indigenous Student Centre In the Amazon
Build An Indigenous Student Centre In the Amazon
Build An Indigenous Student Centre In the Amazon
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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OEPIAP's Vicepresident Gimena, with her classmates
OEPIAP's Vicepresident Gimena, with her classmates

Dear Friends and Supporters,

December in Peru coincides with both the closing of the academic year, and the period for entry exams. As we have been writing to you throughout the years, getting access to higher education and entering University is a very challenging endeavor for indigenous youth in the Northern Peruvian Amazon region. Most don´t have the economic means to travel to Iquitos and cover the costs of daily life and study fees. Those who could, or those who try to access a stipend, have to compete with students from the city, to get one of the much desired but limited study spots. In general, primary and secondary education in the far away indigenous villages is of much lower quality, and often entirely lacks an intercultural and bilingual approach, meaning that indigenous youth arrive in the city with a clear disadvantage. Only a very limited quota of study spots is reserved exclusively for indigenous students, the rest has to compete on equal terms with young folks from the city, who in general have reached a higher academic level when finishing secondary school.

Chaikuni´s Intercultural Education Program Sui Sui has for years been offering tutoring and extra classes to indigenous students, directly responding to their actual needs. This year, the main focus was on math, oratory and rhetoric skills. In November, in the time leading up to entry and semester exams, we offered 10 additional math classes and 23 lessons in oratory and rhetoric skills. Many of the participants in the classes were students which had newly arrived and aspired to get into University. Today we are happy to inform you that 7 of the 15 newly arrived aspirants have passed their entry exams!  

The dream: the struggle continues…

In terms of the main dream, i.e. that of their own student residence [which at the same time is the core of our campaign on GlobalGiving], the struggle sometimes might seem endless, but the dream is alive and well. After a change in government denied them the already agreed long term lease of a piece of land to build the student center, the negotiations continue in order to find a new solution. Three different areas have been pointed out, and each option is being investigated for its viability. It is a tedious process, frustrating at times, but Chaikuni continues to stand behind the students and support them in their advocacy to finally get a secure and adequate place of their own to live and study in Iquitos.

Thank you for standing with us, and thanks for everything you continue to do to support indigenous youth in the Peruvian Amazon.

With gratitude,

The Indigenous Students of OEPIAP and The Chaikuni Institute Team

Traditional dance performed by the UCP students
Traditional dance performed by the UCP students
Gimena plays a big roll to bring interculturality
Gimena plays a big roll to bring interculturality
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"Ser Indigena" the documentary poster
"Ser Indigena" the documentary poster

Showing the reality of young indigenous students.

Dear Friends and Supporters,

Last month, we finally released the audiovisual project "Ser Indígena" (Being Indigenous), which consists of a documentary and a photographic exhibition. The project is the result of a long work with the students themselves, with the aim to show their reality, dreams, and challenges, and to reflect on interculturality and what it means to be indigenous in the context of a more and more globalized community. 

In this documentary, we get to know Jimena from the indigenous Achuar people, an Environmental Engineering student in Iquitos, who dreams of cleaning up the pollution that almost 5 decades of oil activity have left in her territory. We also get acquainted with Federico, a Language and Literature student from the Awajún people, who aspires to improve education in his community. Finally, we accompany Leonarda to her native Tikuna community on the Amazon. Leonarda is a Nursing student who hopes to contribute to the health of her people by combining traditional practices and modern medicine.

During the 50-minute journey, the viewer endorses the struggles, dreams and aspirations of these young indigenous students and their peoples, raising awareness about the importance of indigenous youth accessing higher education in order to choose their own destiny and become a fundamental part of this multicultural society.

Close to one hundred people attended the premiere in Iquitos on the 12th of October, the date coinciding with the International Day of Cultural Diversity (or Resistance Day, as some indigenous groups call the Day Columbus first arrived to the Americas). We also plan to project the documentary in educational institutions and other public spaces in the city to create broader awareness around the reality of indigenous students in Iquitos. 

At the same time, we opened a photo exhibition in a popular café in Iquitos, portraying pictures taken during the production of this documentary. The exhibition has been visited by hundreds of local Iquiteños and tourists alike.

For the students, it has been a very important and enriching experience. They learned how to plan and organize an audiovisual production, and wrote their own script. Furthermore, they improved their communication skills and were proud to show and see themselves reflecting on their own identity. We plan to do more of this in the near future.

More support to fulfill their dreams...

Besides this successful audiovisual experience, we continue supporting the Organization of Indigenous Peoples Students from the Peruvian Amazon (OEPIAP) organizing training courses, receiving and guiding new students upon their arrival to the city and throughout their university matriculation process. Oepiap elected a new student leadership in July, who will carry on the work of the prior board, continuing the negotiations with the regional government in order to fulfill their biggest dream, to have access to a piece of land and build their own student residency.

Once again, we thank you for everything you continue to do to support indigenous youth in the Peruvian Amazon.

With profound gratitude,

 

The Indigenous Students of OEPIAP and The Chaikuni Institute Team

"Ser Indigena" the Photo-exhibition poster
"Ser Indigena" the Photo-exhibition poster
October 12th, launching the documentary
October 12th, launching the documentary
Enjoying the photo-exhibition with the students
Enjoying the photo-exhibition with the students
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Day gathering of indigenous youth
Day gathering of indigenous youth

Dear Friends and Supporters,


Last week, on August 9th, the world celebrated the international day of the world´s indigenous
peoples. While we at the Chaikuni Institute celebrate, learn from, honour and promote
indigenous peoples – their cultures, knowledge systems, cosmovisions, environmental
stewardship, etc. – every day in our work, we joined in the global celebration last week.
Our Loreto region of Peru is home to 31 indigenous peoples speaking 29 different indigenous
languages. For this year´s occasion, as last year, we teamed up with the local branch of the
Ministry of Culture and several other like-minded local organizations, to organize the second
encounter of indigenous Amazonian knowledge and wisdom and celebrate this incredible
cultural diversity.


Rather than being a simple showcase of “exotic” chants and dances, the event aimed at raising
awareness among the local population and exhibit a glimpse of the extremely rich cultural
indigenous heritage of our region. From birth to childhood, to adulthood, to death, and the
afterlife: 7 different indigenous peoples shared their traditions on how their culture perceives
the different stages in life with the audience in a large public park in Iquitos, through stories,
icaros (chants), dances, and rituals. Paradoxically enough, the local population in the largest
city of the region is often entirely unfamiliar with these ancestral knowledge systems.


Earlier in this week of celebrations, the Chaikuni Institute organized a full-day gathering of
indigenous youth. About 50 indigenous youth studying at different institutions of higher
education in Iquitos participated in the event, discussing their priorities on key topics such as
territory, development, health and sanitation, and their political organization. We furthermore
reviewed a preliminary version of our documentary about the indigenous students directly
with the protagonists and gathered important inputs for the finalization of the documentary.

Besides this week of festivities, we continued our advocacy to promote the project of the
student residency, exploring different concrete alternatives. However, the regional
government is very slow in presenting an alternative piece of land for the student residency
[after they announced that the land leased to the students had been designated for other
purposes (see the previous report)].

Nonetheless, we continue to accompany and support the
students in finding a new piece of land, and are exploring and defining new strategies to find
financial and technical support for the design, planning and construction of a sustainable and
ecofriendly housing project for the students.


We'll keep you updated with the latest news as we continue to run our campaign for the full
funding goal, and for the student residency to become a reality. Any donation will help to keep
us going.


We thank you for everything you continue to do to support indigenous youth in the Peruvian
Amazon.


With gratitude,

The Indigenous Students of OEPIAP and The Chaikuni Institute Team

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Students posing in the new and improved residence
Students posing in the new and improved residence

Dear Friends and Supporters,

Today, we thought we´d seize the opportunity to briefly tell you a bit about the difficult political context we are working in and the challenges the students and our Institute face trying to build a permanent student center for the indigenous students here in Iquitos.

A short re-cap: In late 2017, the students achieved a (seemingly) historic victory as the Regional Government signed an agreement to lease a piece of land to them for 10 years (renewable) where the future student residence shall be built. In 2018, the government approved a project to build temporary housing on the land, announcing the start of the construction several times throughout the year. Yet, when the 4-year term of the government came to a close in the end of 2018, not one single brick had been laid out. The exception: In mid-2018, with your help, we at the Chaikuni Institute went ahead and built a computer room and office space for the students.

A few months after the new government had taken over office, and the students re-opened negotiations for the building of the student housing, the government announced that they would nullify their agreement over the lease of the land. They proclaimed that the agreement had legal procedural errors, and that the land was zoned for other purposes. In short, the future residency cannot be built on the piece of land granted to them in 2017.

Once this shock was somehow digested, instead of giving up, the students and Chaikuni armed a new advocacy campaign towards the regional government, teaming up with more allies such as the local arm of the Ministry of Culture. The attitude of the Regional Government so far has been collaborative; a series of meetings to identify a new alternative piece of land for the students has given some preliminary results. At the same time, a committee is being established that will together draw up a public project and plans for the student residency. In the meantime, the students have once again been moved to another temporary hostel; but this time to a residency with much improved living conditions.

Of course, our Intercultural Education program has also been doing many other activities. We continued our workshops on bee-keeping with stingless bees, organizing two visits to our permaculture center. For the upcoming documentary, we accompanied some students in their lectures at the University and visited Leonarda, a young and energetic Tikuna woman studying in Iquitos, in her native community Cuchillococha, situated further down on the Amazon river, close to the boarder with Brazil and Columbia.

In early May, we had the pleasure to receive Viktorija, field traveler for South America from GlobalGiving, here in Iquitos. We organized a full day visit to our permaculture center, where the indigenous students and our staff organized a so called minga (=communal work). It is very common in the Loreto region that village members gather regularly to do communal work; building a school, clearing a communal field, improving a road or a path, etc. The female students had prepared masato for the event; a traditional drink made out of (usually fermented) cassava, widely used among indigenous peoples in the Peruvian Amazon. The day was shared between setting up ecological gardens, drinking masato and sharing experiences.

We'll keep you updated with the latest news as we continue to run our campaign for the full funding goal, and for the student residency to become a reality. Any donation will help to keep us going.

We thank you for everything you continue to do to support indigenous youth in the Peruvian Amazon.

With profound gratitude,

 The Indigenous Students of OEPIAP and The Chaikuni Institute Team

Visiting the students at the University (UPO)
Visiting the students at the University (UPO)
Students preparing the 'masato' traditional drink
Students preparing the 'masato' traditional drink
Welcoming Viktorija-Global Giving during her visit
Welcoming Viktorija-Global Giving during her visit
Visiting Cuschillococha, Leonarda's community
Visiting Cuschillococha, Leonarda's community
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Organization Information

Instituto Chaikuni

Location: Iquitos, Loreto - Peru
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @Chaikuni
Project Leader:
Alienor de Sas
Iquitos, Loreto Peru
$12,012 raised of $24,000 goal
 
159 donations
$11,988 to go
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