Alianza Arkana spotlight on Orestes Rengifo Cauper

This week Alianza Arkana interviews Orestes Rengifo Cauper, a Shipibo man who has recently taken on the role of operational director of Alianza Arkana’s Community Based Solutions projects. (Seen on the far left of the adjacent photo.)

AA: Can you tell us something about the work you do with Alianza Arkana?

Orestes: As operations manager, I need to make sure we’ve always got what is needed at the different project sites. For example I´m often taking compost from San Francisco community to our permaculture projects. A lot of what I do is construction. I´m in charge of building our community upscaling centres and compost latrines; we’re now making a lot of the latter. Tomorrow I leave for the community of Junin Pablo and in this area I´ll be making more latrines. I also train the environmental promoters, the people who work for us in the communities, teaching them how to prepare compost, and how to separate waste materials.

AA: How did you start working for Alianza Arkana?

Orestes: I live in San Francisco and from when Brian Best (Alianza Arkana Director of Community Based Solutions) started working there I always liked the project, but I had another job then and could not get involved. After a time, I started doing some construction work with Alianza Arkana. One of the first projects I was asked to work on was building a bench with eco-bricks. Later, I became Brian´s full-time assistant. And now I´ve just taken on a lot more responsibility, which I’m very excited about.

AA: What did you do before working for Alianza Arkana?

Orestes: In 1993 I trained to be a dentist with the help of a group of North American Christian Missionaries. So I visited many communities in the Ucayali taking medicines and giving treatments. This has helped a great deal now in my work with Alianza Arkana, as I have good relations in the community due to the service I did there before.

AA: What do you like about the work you do now?

I like building things, it is very productive and makes me feel satisfied, you can really see the product of your work. When I first started doing this work, I wanted to help with the needs of my fellow Shipibo in rural areas. There was so much rubbish, but after the clean-up contests and now the (Zero waste) program has been working for a while, we have really been able to improve our communities. Now there´s less contamination, health levels are improving in these communities. It’s great to see results in the work we do, Shipibo people have been very happy to work with Alianza Arkana and this makes me happy too. When people visit the projects from other communities, they are impressed by how clean everything is and ask “can AA come to work with us too?”

What do you hope to achieve in the future with this work?

I’d like to see people living healthily in the communities, with less contamination. For example, in 3 communities that are clustered around a bay, Utucuro, Belen and Roya, we are building compost latrines to avoid human waste contaminating the bay. People still drink from this river, so it is vital to keep it clean.

We also need to promote reforestation projects in more communities. Many are affected by illegal logging; these communities are cutting down their trees but few are planting new ones. But an alternative is possible, these communities could act as an example, where people maintain the forest, live in harmony with their environment and inspire others to do the same.

Deborah Rivett, Tuesday, 27 August 2013

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