Education
 Peru
Project #11211

Intercultural Education for Indigenous Youth

by Alianza Arkana
Vetted
Girls and facilitators from workshop in Paoyan
Girls and facilitators from workshop in Paoyan

First of all, many thanks for your ongoing support, which is helping us do important work in education and health in a number of Shipbo communities.

In mid-July we ran our sixth five-day personal development workshop for teenage girls. This workshop was held in the Shipibo community of Paoyan, about five hours by fast boat downriver from Pucallpa.

This was the second workshop ran for girls in this community and we are building relationships not just with the girls there but also the two female leaders who have been attending each workshop. The female leaders have told us they have got so much benefit from the workshops themselves, that they want us to help organize a workshop for young mothers in this community.

As always, by offering the girls a safe space to voice their experience, the workshop was very successful. Key themes discussed were self-esteem, sex education, human rights, autonomy, violence and cultural identity. These were all covered using creative and participative methods that help break down barriers and foster sharing and involvement. You can read more about the workshop here.

At the same time as working with teenage girls, we continue to work with primary school children. This happens in two main schools - one in the urban community of Bena Jema and another in the semi-rural community of Santa Clara, where we have our combined education and permaculture project, which has featured in previous reports.

To learn more about our work in the urban school in Bena Jema, see this blog post written by Antonia, one of our year long German volunteers who has sadly just left us.

We also finished the second pilot project of what we call the 'small two-women-wandering clinic'. Nine and Carolina, the two women who lead this, worked for a month in the mixed Shipibo and mestizo urban community of Jhon Hawking providing a free medical service based on traditional Shipibo plant medicine and Western homeopathy. As in the first pilot project, this work proved to be very important in offering high quality attention to people who do not usually receive it and providing an effective health intervention. You can read more about this here.

Activity from girls workshop
Activity from girls workshop
Antonia with children from Bena Jema
Antonia with children from Bena Jema
Clinic operating from Carolina
Clinic operating from Carolina's house
Painting of the spirit of the plant Chiricsanango
Painting of the spirit of the plant Chiricsanango

The last three months have been busy.

In addition to our scholarship students returning to classes at their respective universities, and the schools re-opening after the long summer break - after the first round of national elections in early April - we have begun three important new projects.

Two of these projects were featured in a recent blog. See here:

https://alianzaarkana.wordpress.com/2016/04/28/two-new-projects-the-small-two-women-wandering-clinic-and-lastenias-book/

We now have a budget for the book project and funding for it from an individual donor, so we plan to begin that soon, which means we will be commissioning 30-50 paintings for the book from acclaimed Shipibo artist, Latenia Canayo. You can see some photos of her beautiful and interesting work with this report, as well as a photo of the team of people from Alianza Arkana and our indigenous partner organization, AIDI, working on this..

The intercultural health project finished in the urban comunity of Bena Jema at the end of April run jointly by Carolina, a Shipibo expert in plant medicine and Nine, a German midwife and homeopath,  and we will be offering the same mobile health service, combining Western homeopathy and traditional Shipibo plant medicine, visiting families in their homes in the adjacent Shipibo urban community of Jon Hocking in June.

The third project is an extension of our scholarship program.

We currently offer a full scholarship program worth around $1000 USD a year for five to six years to six selected Shipibo young people to study at University. We would like to be able to offer more of these scholarships but need people to sponsor these scholarships and recognize that it is a major comitment to fund a student at university for $1000 USD per year for five to six years.

We have, therefore, recently supplemented this scholarship program with a further scheme to pay the university fees for a further four students, who have just started at university this April. University fees here are not expensive - around $100 USD per year! - but our paying them is a great help to the students and their families.

We are also providing these students with additional classes in English and computer skills, as well as a personal tutor. In the attached photo you can see three of the students and their families together with Dr Paul Roberts, Intercultural Education Director of Alianza Arkana, and Antonia Bratzke, a German volunteer who is teaching the students computing.

Lastenia holding painting
Lastenia holding painting
Team from AIDI and AA working on book project
Team from AIDI and AA working on book project
Our two health workers attending to an elder
Our two health workers attending to an elder
Students and their families with staff from AA
Students and their families with staff from AA
Artistic activity on Girls for the World Workshop
Artistic activity on Girls for the World Workshop

The last three months have been relatively quiet for education in the Peruvian Amazon as the schoolchildren and university students have been enjoying their long summer vacations. Most of our scholarship students take the opportunity to return to their home communities or go away from Pucallpa to work in this period.

However, during this time, we, in collaboration with the US-based NGO, Girls for the World, ran our fifth five-day personal development program for Shipibo girls between 13-19 years old. This was organized with girls and mothers from the community of Poayan, with whom we have good links, which is about five hours downriver from Pucallpa in a fast boat (twelve hours by slow boat!).

The girls actually travelled to a residential center near Pucallpa to receive the workshop, as have seen the benefits of them being away from the community and the often unwelcome interest of young men in what they are doing when we once ran this within the same community that the girls were from.

Like all the other programs, this was a great success. Additionally, the two mothers who accompanied the girls, who are important female leaders within their community, got great personal benefit from the workshop and are very keen for us to do another workshop and follow-up with the girls from this community.

Our other main activity during this time has been to offer holiday activities for the school children in the urban community of Bena Jema, where we have two volunteers working one year with the primary school. This has been a mixture of traditional educational activities such as help with reading and writing as well as artistic workshop activity focussing on creating representations of traditional stories, which the children investigated by talking to elders in their community. The photos show flags created by the children with emblematic characters from the stories of their culture.

Next March, we plan to start the pilot phase of a new project which will provide a free health service to women and children in the same community of Bena Jema. This will be jointly led by a German midwife and homeopath, who has already worked with us offering courses for traditional Shipibo midwives, and a Shipibo woman with great knowledge of medicinal plants. This represents the essence of good intercultural education - combining the best of what Western and indigenous cultures can offer, in this case in the area of health.

Leaving on the boat
Leaving on the boat
Displaying flags made with traditional symbols
Displaying flags made with traditional symbols
Talking to an elder about traditional stories
Talking to an elder about traditional stories
Banana tree bearing fruit at Santa Clara
Banana tree bearing fruit at Santa Clara

Our volunteer, Lucy, who had been living in the Shipibo community of Santa Clara, and coordinating our educational  there, sadly left Peru in September to return to the USA. We would like to take this opportunity to thank Lucy for all the work she has done to create such a fertile foundation from which to work with this community.

This fertile ground is now bearing many fruits, both literally, as the fruit trees in the permaculture project attached to the primary school begin to produce, and figuratively, as this project becomes a model for other educational initiatives with Shipibo people.

Thankfully, we have two new very capable young German volunteers, Anna and Antonia, beginning work in the same community, who started with us around the time that Lucy left. They will be with us for a year between leaving school and starting university.

We have also seen a change in the school teaching staff. There is now a new primary school teacher there called Rusber offering classes to around 30 children in one classroom of six grades. He is from the same community of Santa Clara and deeply committed to educating the children in a way that strengthens their cultural identity.

In collaboration with Rusber, and alongside Soraya, our French/Australian communications coordinator, Anna and Antonia have been working the last two months to run environmental educational workshops. These have used drawing to teach the children about pollination and have also involved planting flowers in the community to attract bees. Additionally, the same team of people have created a musical instrument playground very near the school using entirely recycled material.

Because of these recent initiatives, and the connection of education to permaculture that we have been developing in this community for over a year and a half, this project is beginning to attract greater attention within the wider Shipibo community.

This has led to the planning of a visit to this project on 26th November, when Profesor Eli Sánchez, one of the leading Shipibo educators and also a key adviser to Alianza Arkana, will be bringing a group of 20 teachers and local indigenous leaders to witness this project at first hand. This is part of the work Profesor Eli Sánchez is doing as leader of the intercultural education initiative that ORAU - the regional indigenous political organization - is now taking.

The plan is that, after the visit, the teachers will implement similar projects in the schools in their communities they are working in, supported by ORAU. We are delighted as it was always our intention that the educational projects we create can be models for other projects. We are even more delighted that this intitiative is now being led by a regional indigenous organization and not an NGO.

Part of the recycled musical instruments project
Part of the recycled musical instruments project
Mothers and children at Santa Clara
Mothers and children at Santa Clara
Part of the AA team at the Santa Clara anniversary
Part of the AA team at the Santa Clara anniversary
The team at IDEARA
The team at IDEARA

These last three months, we have started a major new project in association with a local Shipibo organization called IDEARA (Instituto de Desarrollo Altérnativo Raíces Amázonicas - in English, the Institute for the Alternative Development of Amazonian Roots) to join them in their task of helping revitalize Shipibo culture with young indigenous people living in the city of Pucallpa. They have a site with great potential of over four hectares on the edge of the indigenous area of Pucallpa.

With time, we will be helping them create a cultural center and residential accommodation on this site, based on the principles of permaculture design, which will offer workshops on key areas of traditional Shipibo culture such as arts and crafts and medicinal plants, as well as alternative models of development such as natural building methods and permaculture.

One of our volunteers has already helped them build a clay oven, which will be used to make rocket stoves, which are a more economic and environmentally friendly alternative to the traditional cooking methods of cooking on an open fire, which works fine in rural communities but is more problematic in urban areas due to the enclosed spaces and difficulty in finding firewood.

Meanwhile, our work in Santa Clara continues with the setting up of a library in the school there, which includes another beautiful mural created by our talented muralist working with the children from the school. Do look at the accompanying photos of the wall before and after this mural was painted.

Many thanks for your support which makes this work possible.

Building the clay kiln at IDEARA
Building the clay kiln at IDEARA
The wall before............
The wall before............
And the library wall after........
And the library wall after........
 

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Organization Information

Alianza Arkana

Location: Yarinacocha, Ucayali - Peru
Website: http:/​/​alianzaarkana.org/​
Project Leader:
Paul Roberts
Pucallpa, Ucayali Peru

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