Luminita Cuna via Crowdrise
August 20, 2011
BENEFITING: Village Earth
The Huaorani are legendary warriors of the rainforest who still live in the depth of the Ecuadorian Amazon, protecting their territory, their culture, and their lifestyle.
If you want to support a grassroot initiative by indigenous people in the rainforest, if you want to contribute to the empowerment of the Huaorani, if you want to directly contribute to the conservation of the Amazon and Yasuni National Park -a place of incredible biodiversity and beauty, this is your chance.
Penti Baihua, Huaorani leader, together with the grassroots alliance Ome Gompote Kiwigimoni Huaorani (We Defend Our Huaorani Territory) are seeking $2,500 in funding in order to organize a 3-day long Huaorani gathering in August. Penti and other community leaders want as many Huaorani as possible to participate in this gathering, but Bameno is not easy to reach and mobilization is expensive. The money will go directly to the Huaorani and will be spent on logistics to bring as many Huaorani community members as possible to the gathering: transportation via canoe (gasoline is expensive), and food for the duration of the gathering (a lot of of the food will be also provided by community members in Bameno).
The scope of the gathering is for the Huaorani people and other communities in Yasuni National Park in Ecuador to discuss how to defend their territory and their rights. Ome's agenda for the meeting states:
"We are going to talk about...[the Huaorani organizations] and our Huaorani territory Omeand rights, in order to know the reality that is happening in this territory, what projects and programs are being done from the outside, what we want as Huaorani, who is concerned, where we can conserve the forest, and who agrees to commit to defend Omeand the Huaorani families who live in isolation in the forest." As Penti explained, "something of this territory must remain for the Huaorani, where we can live in peace as Huaorani."
Penti Baihua is a Huaorani leader from the Bameno community. He has been leading the efforts of Ome Gompote Kiwigimoni Huaorani (We Defend Our Huaorani Territory) to defend the Huaorani rainforest (their territory), culture and human rights. Until first contact with the outside world around 1970, the Huaorani in Penti’s region (Yasuni National Park) defended their territory with hardwood spears. But now, as Penti says, they must find new ways of fighting, by "speaking Spanish, using law, and travelling far away like the harpy eagle."
Ome invited Professor Judith Kimerling, a long time environmental and indigenous rights activist, to the gathering. Professor Kimerling has been nominated by Village Earth for the 2011 Maury Albertson Medal for Excellence in Sustainable Development. When she told Penti and other community leaders about the medal, they decided to schedule their working meeting ("reunion de trabajo extraordinario") before she goes to Colorado to accept the medal and work with Village Earth to build support for Penti and Ome. That way, she can help the Huaorani from Ome follow up on their gathering, and carry their message to a new community of supporters in the US.