Education
 Peru
Project #11211

Intercultural Education for Indigenous Youth

by Alianza Arkana
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........
Group of mothers cooking
Group of mothers cooking

The last three months have been busy for us in the Shipibo community of Santa Clara.

At the beginning of April, the children returned to school after their long summer holidays. Also our volunteer, Lucy, returned to live in the community after a short break back home in the USA.

We began once again to offer weekly lunches helping the organization of mothers in the community supplement the food they receive from the Peruvian Govenrnment with more nutritious food and also financially supporting the community by buying food such as fish and chicken from members of the community. We currently cook one meal a week for all the children and young people in the comunity. A new volunteer has recently joined us who has more specialized knowledge in nutrition and she will also be helping in this project by offering weekly classes in nutrition linked to the food the women are cooking.

Additionally, we have been making good progress on developing the permaculture site attached to the primary and kindergarten school in the community. Our Shipibo permaculture technician has been involving the children from the school in the preparation and planting of the site and at the same teaching them about sustainable agriculture. The site is now producing basic food such as yucca, bananas and sweet peppers for use in the weekly meals. Over time more healthy food will be harvested that can be used in the weekly meals.

One other important event occurred in the last three months. Our of our nine University scholarhip students, who we wrote about in the previous report, had his graduation ceremony. For indigenous students to overcome the financial and other barriers to complete a university education is a huge achievement and we would like to congratulate this student and his family for finishing his five year course of studies to be a primary intercultural education teacher, without one single failed class!

School student working on permaculture site
School student working on permaculture site
Our scholarship student receiving his degree
Our scholarship student receiving his degree
Percy with his parents
Percy with his parents

All the nine Shipibo students receiving scholarships to study at university to become professionals in the areas of teaching, law, agriculture and accountancy from Alianza Arkana completed their year at university for 2014. They are all at different stages of their degree programs.

We offer particular congratulations to one of our students, Percy, who successfully finished his five-year degree program in Primary Intercultural Education at the National Intercultural University of the Amazon in Pucallpa. He will be graduating in April 2016.

The last three months in education have been relatively quiet. This is because they are the long school summer holidays in Peru and the schools and universities are closed from mid-December until the beginning of March. During this time many Shipibo families temporarily migrate to other parts of Peru to work in poorly paid agricultural activities such as harvesting grapes and other crops.

Although the children have not been at school, we have continued to work on the agricultural project in the community of Santa Clara, which is attached to the school. The food produced in this project will be used in the weekly cooking and nutrition classes we are organizing with a group of mothers in the community, which will restart in March 2015.

Six of our scholarship students
Six of our scholarship students
Youth artists in Shipibo community of Santa Clara
Youth artists in Shipibo community of Santa Clara

In October this year, we took our intercultural education program another step forward by starting to work with the Shipibo community of Santa Clara. This community is geographically close to other communities in which we have been working and enables us to connect together permaculture projects in all these communities, which is part of our overall vision of landscape regeneration in this area.

Activities have been initiated in Santa Clara that we have successfully pioneered in other communities:

  • Working with a group of mothers to teach them about nutrition by cooking a healthy meal together once a week for all 50 children in the community
  • Having our Shipibo permaculture expert working with the children in the community school to teach them principles of sustainable agriculture through cultivating fruit, vegetables and medicinal plants on land close to the school
  • Organizing workshops in which elders in the community teach the children aspects of the traditional culture (for example stories, songs and crafts), which are in danger of being lost.

The work in Santa Clara has been greatly helped by Lucy, one of our long-term volunteers living in the community. That has enabled her and us to better understand the needs of the community and gain their trust. Through the relationships that she developed with the local children, and the involvement of an artist friend of hers, she was able to facilitate the painting of two beautiful murals on the outside walls of the local primary and kindergarten schools.

We are very excited for the coming months, as the rainy season arrives and the kids will be getting their hands dirty planting lots of trees in the Permaculture Living Classroom.

Kids eat healthy lunches in Grow & Cook project
Kids eat healthy lunches in Grow & Cook project
A completed mural in Santa Clara
A completed mural in Santa Clara

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Organization Information

Alianza Arkana

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