On Friday, September 8th 2017, 6 volunteers from Alianza Arkana went to Paohyan, a 1,000 person Shipibo community 5 hours away by fast motor boat. Leaving at 8am, the volunteers went to continue their collaboration with the community on climate change education. Arriving in Paohyan on Friday afternoon, they began preparations for the two-day workshop, running Saturday and Sunday. Alianza Arkana’s Director of Permaculture, Marcos Urquia, joined the volunteers and played a critical role in inspiring the participants to think of creative local solutions to combat climate change.
This workshop was what volunteer Karl Vikat called, a “response to a demand.” After the leader of the community, Limber, attended an impactful workshop on climate change put on by the USAID, he called upon Alianza Arkana to provide the community with a similar educational workshop. This two day workshop built on the first focus-group Alianza Arkana put on at the end of June for the Paohyan community. This second workshop was strategically planned on a weekend to receive more community participation. Several volunteers from Alianza Arkana went to Paohyan the week before the workshop to deliver invitations to people in the community and encourage people to attend. Volunteers also attended the community assembly to inform all the leaders to attend and participate.
On Saturday, 30 to 40 participants came to learn about the local and global impacts of climate change. Every participant and volunteer made a personal introduction sharing where they were from, why they like where they are from and how climate change affects their home. Participants watched video clips, engaged in small group discussions, and got to talk openly about how climate change impacted their day to day lives and long standing cultural traditions. Participants shared local environmental changes they have witnessed in their lives and talked about the changes their parents, grandparents,and great grandparents witnessed in their lives.The Paohyan community has experienced an increase in flooding, erosion of river banks, forest fires, and dryness, which impacts much of the agriculture of the region.
Volunteers showed documentary clips about the importance of the Amazon rainforest on regulating the global climate and then transitioned into explaining how climate change happens on a scientific level. The documentary clips were heavy and intense as most participants had not been exposed to a lot of the global effects of climate change. One of the community leaders expressed his gratitude to the volunteers, telling them how the community does not receive this type of information and news. He also expressed how fearful he was for his children and future generations to come.
On Sunday, the volunteers organized a focus group where many community leaders and authorities engaged in a conversation on local action to ameliorate the effects of climate change. At the initial focus group in June, the community listed its needs and identified its capacity to combat climate change locally. The community came up with the idea of a botanic garden and were eager to use this weekend to begin planning. Marcos presented the Permaculture project in Santa Clara, focused on the three goals of the garden. First being reforestation and protection against fire. Second being food security and nutrition. Third being preservation of plant knowledge. Marcos inspired the community to focus on what garden could bring to the community in terms of business and agricultural education for youth.
Feeling motivated, the community picked up where they left off and talked about creating an internal committee for the construction of the Paohyan botanic garden. The committee, once formed, will decide on how to organize the plants, where to establish the garden, and how to get seeds for the plants. Marcos also suggested some folks visit Santa Clara to see the project for themselves and learn about permaculture from their Shipibo neighbors in the community of Santa Clara. While the role of Alianza Arkana in this project is still to be determined, the volunteers felt that this was an important moment of connection to the community of Paohyan. Alianza Arkana has had a small presence in Paohyan and has hosted a few intercultural education and environmental education workshops, but there are no continuous projects there. After seeing the excitement and motivation to collaborate with Alianza Arkana, the volunteers agree this was the beginning of a new relationship with the community of Paohyan.