Svetlana at the healing center site
Traditional sound healing center progress
In May, our project to construct a throat-singing sound healing center in the village of Tyungur in the Altai Republic in southern Siberia won a $2500 RUHeart prize from the Fred Foundation. I visited the site in late June, and attach a photograph. The logs are for construction of the healing center building.
Svetlana Katynova, our local partner had told me that it was in a very quiet place. Quiet indeed! It is several kilometers past the end of the road, and the end of the road is a full day's drive from the nearest city. But it's a beautiful site, located up the bank from the sacred Katun River. When I was there, the river was flooded, but the site was high and dry.
Unfortunately, construction was delayed week by week all summer, because the multiple attempts to get the RUHeart funds to Svetlana's bank were unsuccessful for a different reason each time. Finally, in late August RUHeart wired the funds to me and I sent them on by Western Union. So now Svetlana and her family and a couple of the throat-singers are in Tyungur, and the construction is underway!
During my visit, $200 of your donated funds covered transportation and food costs for the 7 young throat-singers to participate in El Oyin, Altai's biennial regional cultural festival, where the singers performed. THANK YOU for enabling this! Such festivals are crucial incubators for up-coming singers. Not only do they exchange techniques with other singers, but they are also critiqued by elders.
One of the short-comings of our group was a lack of traditional costumes, which, at about $100 per person, are far beyond the financial reach our student singers. Their singing was so inspiring that a local felt-maker offered to donate her labor to make extra-special costumes for our group. So now, we need only need to raise $50 per person or $350 for our group to be exquisitely costumed. A slideshow of El Oyin that shows some of the amazing costumes is linked below.
The great news!
Meanwhile (because no grass grows under Svetlana), TWO of her other cultural/environmental projects are receiving partial funding from the Altai Republic government. The Ministry of Tourism provided some funding for the publication and translation of a ground-breaking book on the sacred places in the Ust Koksa district where Tyungur Village is. Svetlana spent five years painstakingly interviewing indigenous Altai elders about their memories of the locations and significance of these places. The book is both an archive and a documentation of living culture.
And finally, a project to upgrade a local family dairy in Tyungur will be funded by the Ministry of Agriculture. This will include development of a regional marketing structure, and will initially employ 11 people. I will keep you posted on the progress!