Dear Friends and Supporters,
After so many years dreaming of their own land and an indigenous student centre, indigenous youth of the Peruvian Amazon are now finally starting to see their wish turning into a physical reality, and you are part of this!
In early May, the building of a computer room and office space officially began on the land which the regional government granted a 10-year lease to indigenous student organization OEPIAP, which represents over 120 indigenous youth from 13 Amazonian peoples. This exciting advance has been made possible thanks to your donations as well as a grant from the Liechtenstein Development Service (LED).
This office-computer building will provide an important study space for the indigenous youth, who still very much lack the spaces, tools and conditions to adequately pursue their studies while in Iquitos. The office room will also serve to strengthen and empower OEPIAP as an organization by providing its student leaders with a professional and physical base in which to carry out planning, meetings, and management duties for the organization.
The building is set to be finished and inaugurated by the end of June. It constitutes an important part of the students’ dreamed and self contained centre, and it is hoped to serve to pressure the regional government in fulfilling its long-standing commitment to provide housing for the youth who have left their remote communities to come to Iquitos in order to pursue their dream of higher education and becoming professionals.
“We want the regional governor to prioritize and approve the construction of the temporary malocas for the indigenous students”, says President of OEPIAP Edgar, referring to the regional government’s promise months ago to begin building two temporary malocas which would together accommodate up to 80 students and provide a temporary solution. The design plans are finalized and the regional governor has approved the project but the students are still awaiting the start of the construction, which has been postponed several times. The government has hinted that construction may begin this June.
In order to celebrate the acquisition of the land lease, and with hopes to visibilize the students’ struggle locally, we organized a minga (communal work) with the students of OEPIAP prior to beginning the building of the computer room. Equipped with machetes, rakes, and blow guns, around 100 indigenous students attended the minga and began cleaning up the 0.6 hectare land, demarcating its perimeters with tape and wooden poles, and planting a few mamey trees with the help of Chaikuni’s Permaculture team. For many, it was the first time visiting the new land. “We come from very far away and we have great necessities – that is why this land is so important for us”, says Leonarda, a Ticuna student. “We have been struggling for this land and student center so that future generations that come after us have a real space and won’t be suffering like us, they will have a proper space to study, they will be able to feel stable in their studies as well as in the space in which they are living”.
Your donations have also contributed towards supporting writing skills workshops for the students and individual psychological support sessions led by Chaikuni’s Student Monitor. We also organized a lively series of bicycle maintenance workshop led by Profesor Juan from the Iquitos School of Cycling, as part of our pilot project “Conduce tus sueños” (“Drive Your Dreams”) which aims to provide an ecological and alternative mode of transport for the indigenous youth. Currently, and thanks to your gifts to this campaign, OEPIAP has been donated 10 bicycles. But to meet the transport needs of the 120-plus students who often don’t have enough financial resources to pay for their transport to and from the university, this isn’t nearly enough, and we hope to continue to increase the number of bicycles with your ongoing support and sharing of this campaign with your friends and family!
As part of Chaikuni’s vital work to increase the visibility of indigenous students in Loreto, we are also proud to have helped edit and publish an important testimony by talented indigenous student and Vice-President of OEPIAP Elisvan, entitled: “I Travelled To The Tigre River”: An Indigenous Student’s View On Oil Contamination in Loreto”. Read the article here, it has already been republished nationally and internationally by the likes of La Mula, Servindi, Truth-Out, and Intercontinental Cry.
We'll keep you updated with the latest news as we continue to run our campaign for the full goal of $24,000.
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