Support Children's Photography, Fix a Roof, and Save a Culture
Most of us don't know what it is like to not be able to go to school when it rains. For Colombian Wiwa indigenous children, a little rain means no class and when there isn't any class, they can't practice their dying language or learn more about their withering culture. There are only 13,000 Wiwa left in Colombia and only 60% of them speak their indigenous language Damana because of a lack of indigenous schools to teach the language. The small school in the Wiwa indigenous community called Wimake needs a new roof and two United States Peace Corps volunteers teamed up with the Colombian nonprofit organization Ribunduna Tayrona to give these children the opportunity to photograph their community and culture from their own unique perspective to use their photographic art to revamp their community school, guaranteeing not only an educational future, but a space to transmit and protect their culture.
With your donation to Ribunduna Tayrona, you can help save a dying indigenous culture through supporting its children and their unique photography. You will empower Wiwa children to protect their own culture and community through remodeling the space where they practice their language and learn about their community. Your donation will not only support their photography and value their perspective but will revamp their only community school that desperately needs a new roof, new paint and a new kitchen. We want to get the school ready for the next academic year. The entire community will be available to help re-vamp the school during the first two weeks of September. We need our funding by September to get the school built by January!
This project was created to empower indigenous children to play a key part in protecting their community and their educational future. The project was carried out by the foundation Ribunduna Tayrona, a registered nonprofit in Colombia. Ribunduna Tayrona develops social projects in the various indigenous communities in the Sierra Nevada mountains. When one of Ribunduna's volunteers, Eliecer, told Taylor, a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer, about the roof and the school in Wimake, where he himself went to school, Taylor called fellow Peace Corps volunteer, Alli, who has a donation of digital cameras from the U.S. nonprofit, Outside the Lens.
It just so happens that Eliecer has a passion for photography as well. Together Alli, Eliecer and Taylor took a trying two hour ride up a bumpy mountain road and then hiked for 5 hours to get to Wimake. They taught 18 kids the basics of photography with full community support. The kids were given 11 cameras and a day in their community to take photos to showcase the parts of their lives they thought were important for you to see. They knew the proceeds from their photos would go to re-model their school and protect their community. SEE THEIR AMAZING PHOTOS HERE.
What We Need & What You Get
Ribunduna Tayrona is a legally registered nonprofit in Colombia and run by volunteers. Every cent you donate (minus the Indiegogo fees and photo product costs) will go directly to the project of re-vamping the school and showcasing the students' photographs. This project has full community support in Wimake. The Wiwa community is led very democratically and Eliecer spent 8 hours in the men's meeting house building a complete support base. After the materials are purchased, the community will work together to complete the difficult transportation process as most of it will be done on foot and with mules due to a lack of roads after a certain point.
With your donation to the foundation, you can receive a variety of products featuring the children's photography. YOU CAN VIEW ALL OF THEIR PHOTOS HERE and identify which ones you would like when you make a donation.
*note: Your donation goes to Ribunduna Tayrona. Peace Corps volunteers are limited in their ability to directly fund-raise for projects; they are encouraged to help facilitate the community-based projects of established organizations like Ribunduna Tayrona.
We Can Transform Wimake!
If We Raise More Than $18,000...
The school has many needs! If the foundation is fortunate enough to raise more than $18,000, it will purchase:
- A bridge-when it rains a lot, there are several children who cannot cross the river to get to school because of the dangerous current
- new whiteboard
- new desks (the ones the kids have are over 30 years old)
- solar-powered calculators
- basic school supplies like notebooks, paper, pens and pencils
- water filters (parasites are common because of water pollution)
- transportation for older children who want to continue on to middle school and high school.
- solar-powered flashlights for the nighttime
- a septic system to filter waste that goes into the river, the only water supply
More About the Wiwa people and Wimake
The Wiwa culture is a culture at risk. There are only 13,000 Wiwa left in the world, the majority of them are under 30 years old and only 60% of them are able to speak Damana fluently (http://revistawiwa.blogspot.com/). Less than 20 Wiwa people speak Spanish fluently enough to be able to defend their communities when needed, against land encroachment and other dangers. Schools like the one in Wimake are unbelievably important to protect the future of the Wiwa people because these schools are where Wiwa children learn their culture and to speak both Damana and Spanish. Wimake is a pueblo on a legally-recognized indigenous reservation founded in the 1980s by Wiwa leaders to be a place where displaced Wiwa could go to re-establish their culture and re-construct their community. Before Wimake was founded, the area was a drug-growing region, even though the land was always legally owned by the indigenous community. Today Wimake is a self-sustaining community of 32 families. Each family has a small family farm outside of the community where they grow crops to feed themselves, including their main food staples such as yucca, plantains, bananas, beans and other fruits and vegetables.
The School: IED Zalemaku Sertuga Sede 3
The Wiwa population is overwhelmingly young and they really need to focus on preserving their language and culture before the rest of the elders pass away. They accomplish this in "etno-educativa" schools like the one in Wimake, where the Colombian Ministry of Education allows students to follow a special curriculum that emphasizes their indigenous language and culture. The curriculum is created with Wiwa community leaders together with the Ministry of Education. While the idea is an excellent one, many of the "etno-educativa" schools lack the facilities to put the curriculum into practice and there simply aren't enough schools to reach the entire population, especially those in remote areas. Thus, it is important that schools like the one in Wimake are supported and maintained. The school in Wimake is only a primary school. Students who want to continue on to middle school or high school must leave Wimake to study elsewhere. If we raise more than $18,000, we are hoping to be able to send some of the older children to other schools to continue their education.
When You Donate...
Please identify the photos you would like by choosing from this link. SEE THE AMAZING PHOTOS HERE. Right now, we can only mail orders in the continental United States. Please contact us if you want to purchase photos and mail them outside the United States.
Other Ways You Can Help
If you can't contribute financially, we need publicity!
Help us get the word out and make some noise about our project. Share our project on Facebook, Twitter, at church, in your community groups and anywhere else!
More Information about the Wiwa, Wiwa Tour, and Ribunduna Tayrona
Video about Wiwa Tour on the Guardian (English)
Wiwa Governing Authority (Español)
Wiwa Tour (English and Español)
Ribunduna Tayrona Foundation (English and Español)
The Heart of the World: Documentary about indigenous people in the Sierra Nevada (English)
Taylor's Blog about Colombia (English)