Koshi Shinanya

What We Do

Koshi Shinanya means “to have strength in our thoughts” or to be brave and have courage in the Shipibo Language. With this in mind, we aim to inspire and empower Shipibo youth and women to make their own choices in life, so that they can pursue their own happiness with courage. We strive to create a safe, creative, and fun environment, together with the community, to learn social competences, grow in their decision-making abilities, develop self-esteem, improve holistic health, and to create healthy support networks within themselves, with others, and with pride for their ancestral culture and knowledge.

Our objective is to develop programs that have a 4-pillar basis of work:

Participative Workshops
We host 3-5 day participative workshops focused on the development of self-esteem, self-knowledge, assertiveness in decision-making, comprehensive sexual education, self care, and violence prevention, all with an intercultural focus, encouraging elders and mothers to showcase their traditional knowledge. Our workshops are highly interactive, using art, games, feeling-based learning, and experiential learning. We aim to create a safe environment in which we can freely talk about otherwise taboo subjects, and where participants feel supported and cared for. 

Support Group Circles
We aim to host monthly to bi-monthly support circles following our workshops, for specific groups (whether that be mothers only, girls only, or boys only) for community members to have a safe space to talk and find support. Our circles are for sharing quality time, recreational activities, learn something new, and have fun in general, while forging strong connections between circle participants. Our aim is to strengthen support networks within communities.

Health Campaigns
We have noticed that providing information in workshops is not enough, and that there are many barriers to accessing services. For example, in the village of Paoyhan, even though girls knew exactly how to use and where to get condoms, they felt very shy and intimidated by going to the health post and actually getting them. This is why, in conjunction with local health posts, and government-run programs and infrastructure, we will organize health campaigns that make it easier for community members to receive benefits. These do not only include contraception, but also basic insurance, cancer screenings, etc.  

Participatory Action Research
Research is crucial to our program. We use research to diagnose the situation of the communities we work at, to monitor and evaluate our work, and to deliver participatory research together with community members, that is actually useful and relevant to the community. Our focus areas are sexual and reproductive health, maternal/women’s health, children’s health, adolescent health, empowerment and participation, etc. To find out more about becoming a partner researcher in our area, please look at our “Get Involved” tab.

Where We Work

We have been working in the village of Paoyhan since 2016 exclusively with adolescent girls, a few supportive mothers (Neyda, Nora, and Carolina), and our ally counselor, Wendy Wolterink. Throughout our workshops, we have seen an incredible improvement in the girls. Those who were shy are now more outspoken, there has been a solid understanding of concepts relating to sexual health, and we see how the participants come back time and time again. We can say that this is a testament to the safety of the environment that we provide. With these foundations, we are excited to continue to deepen our work, and hone in the learning of emotional intelligence and assertiveness in decision-making, while facilitating the development of healthy support networks. We also want to begin our masculinities workshops, in order to create safe and healthy environments for young boys to develop positive behaviors.

Nueva Betania (and neighboring communities)
Our work in Nueva Betania and neighboring communities began towards the end of 2017 through our partnership with UNICEF, who has equipped the communities with compost toilets in order to improve health and sanitation. Our work carries the same focus on health and personal development, and we integrate our methodologies into UNICEF’s rural health and sanitation project.

Santa Clara Youth Association
The Santa Clara Youth Association was born in 2017 out of the initiative and drive of the youth from the community. Since its creation, we have worked in close conjunction with them and have facilitated personal development workshops, project management workshops, and more. We are supporting them in achieving their goals through a medicinal plant reforestation project, an ecological chicken coop, trainings in leadership, project management, permaculture skills, comprehensive sexual health education, and women’s empowerment. We are proud to announce that the current chiefs of Santa Clara, elected in 2018, are the young people we have been supporting so far, and we look forward to continue working closely with this young and talented team of authorities.

Bena Jema
Our work in Bena Jema started in 2016 and has evolved into becoming a pilot model for our 4-pillar methodology, as this is the first community in which we will organize a as a community-driven health campaign. We hope to continue to support the women and youth, and specially to strengthen the local organizational structures to continue to create a healthy and informed community.