Abya Yala Fund for Indigenous Self-Development in South & Meso America

Approved Projects - 1997

Rural Sustainable Development Project, Solar-Powered Well

Center for the Advancement and Development of Women (CEPRODEM)
Comunidad de Bella Vista, Bolivia

The altiplano of Bolivia is one of the highest regions in the world where human settlements exist. The indigenous Aymara community of Bella Vista has survived in the region for centuries by breeding llamas and cultivating quinoa and potatoes. Yet, the harsh climate, severe droughts and poverty have meant malnutrition and poor health for the population. The community of Bella Vista has responded by organizing the Community Development Committee to promote sustainable development. They have concluded that one of their priority needs is water, and the community plans to construct a well powered by a solar pump. The well will provide potable water for the entire community and their llamas, and irrigation water for communal gardens, pasture and a nursery where native plants will be cultivated. A one-time grant of $20,000 will allow the community to construct the necessary infrastructure and, through collecting small monthly payments from community members for water use, enable them to sustain the project as a self-reliant endeavor within five years.

CEPRODEM, a non-profit organization based in Oruro, Bolivia, is sponsoring the Bella Vista Community Development Committee and will provide the community with technical assistance for the project.

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Strengthening of Indigenous Community Organization in the Mosquitia Region of Honduras

Moskitia Asla Takanda (MASTA)
Puerto Lempira, Gracias a Dios, Honduras

Loggers, ranchers and army officers are encroaching on the territories of the Mosquitia region in Honduras where approximately 40,000 indigenous Miskito and their ancestors have lived for centuries. The Miskito are attempting to protect their culture, environment and livelihoods through the legal demarcation of their land. Workshops to exchange strategies, methods and success stories between the seven zones are designed to strengthen the initiatives. Critical information about the communities, their environments and cultural biodiversity will be generated during these workshops and throughout the organizing process. Training workshops will also be implemented to enable community leaders and residents to gain more understanding and control over their natural and cultural resources. The permanent presence of MASTA is required to organize this program and provide an integrated approach to organizing, training and institutional strengthening. $1,000 for each of the seven zones in the Mosquitia region (a total of $7,000) will allow for the construction of small MASTA offices built with voluntary help from the communities.

MASTA is an umbrella organization for the seven Miskito federations of the Mosquitia. MASTA works to bring indigenous leaders and communities of the region together to respond to threats to their land, language and culture, and to promote the sustainable use of resources.

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Women's Economic and Social Development Program

Kichín Konojel
Chimaltenango, Guatemala

Thirty-five years of civil war in Guatemala has left 150,000 people dead and resulted in the displacement of many of the country's majority Indigenous Peoples. Crushing poverty forces thousands of men to migrate in search of labor, leaving women alone to care and provide for their families. Moreover, deforestation, erosion and unproductive, marginal farmland increase the difficulties which Guatemalan women face in their day-to-day struggles to survive.

In an effort to address these issues within their communities, indigenous Maya-Kaqchikel and Maya-Quiché women are planning various projects, including a two-year human rights training program and an ecological nursery project. The women will build nurseries in two communities to cultivate trees and plants for local reforestation and ornamental and traditional varieties for sale at local markets. This project will benefit the local environment as well as local communal economies. The program of educational and training workshops will focus on raising awareness of human rights — from a gender perspective — among Maya-Kaqchikel and Maya-Quiché women. These workshops will give the Mayan women tools to help them begin to reclaim their power within their communities and, eventually, on a national level.

Kichín Konojel is a network of women's organizations from Maya-Kaqchikel and Maya-Quiché communities in Chimaltenango, Guatemala. The network strives to give Mayan women education and technical assistance to enable them to actively participate in their own development. Kichín Konojel is requesting a total of $35,000 to organize and implement these two projects.

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Micro-Enterprise Training for Vegetable Leather Production

Yawanáwa Association
Acre, Brazil

The Yawanáwa people live in an isolated rainforest area of the western Brazilian Amazon, along the Gregório river in the state of Acre. One of the few sources of cash income for the Yawanáwa comes from the production of vegetable leather — a waterproof fabric made by soaking cotton cloth in natural latex from local rubber trees, and then smoking it until it is cured. Working in collaboration with the Indian Research Center, the Yawanáwa Association seeks $5,050 to organize a comprehensive ten-day workshop to train 40 community members and 34 rubber tappers in this process. The leather will be marketed through a company based in Rio de Janeiro. This economic enterprise will foster self-sufficiency while protecting the undisturbed tropical rainforests through sustainable use of resources in the Yawanáwa territory.

The Yawanáwa Association represents Yawanáwa indigenous communities and works to implement health care, bilingual education and resource management projects to strengthen indigenous communities and secure territorial control.

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Indigenous Women's Rights Training Project

The National Autonomous Indigenous Assembly (ANIPA) and K'inal Antsetik
Chiapas, Mexico

Indigenous women in Mexico live in a world where they must confront violence, sexism and racism on a daily basis. Their identity as women and as Indigenous Peoples is negated and denigrated by society as a whole. They are further marginalized by the national women's movement and in their own communities they face a climate of terror. Many indigenous women in Mexico are building alliances in order to strengthen the indigenous voice within the national struggle for liberation. They are organizing to obtain the tools needed to move toward new relationships of equality.

Over a two-year period, $64,800 is needed to train and educate indigenous women as advocates for their rights. Abya Yala Fund has agreed to seek $25,000 of funding for the first year of this project.

Regional workshops and national meetings will be held throughout indigenous areas of Mexico. These trainings will provide the National Alliance of Indigenous Women with the tools necessary to promote their rights within autonomous indigenous structures, which are currently being developed, and in public policy and legislative arenas.

ANIPA, a national Mexican confederation of indigenous organizations which are struggling to recover their rights and to create Autonomous Indigenous Regions, is collaborating on this initiative with K'inal Antsetik, an organization dedicated to advising and training indigenous women, artisans and peasants.

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Women's Community Gardening and Nutrition Project

The Mapuche Cultural Center of Cañete
Cañete, Chile

The Mapuche peoples of the Octava region of Chile live in the most isolated and impoverished area of the country. As a consequence of their isolation and poverty, Mapuche infants and children face a high risk of malnutrition, affecting the quality of life and the future of the Mapuche peoples. This project has the potential to greatly improve the health of the Mapuche people of Cañete through the construction family gardens and a communal greenhouse to cultivate fruit and vegetables and nutritional trainings for mothers. A grant of $15,000 will fund the training of 57 Mapuche mothers and the construction of a communal greenhouse and family gardens at the home of each participant.

The Mapuche Cultural Center of Cañete (CCMCAG) is organizing this project as a continuation of training provided to women and public health personnell in conjunction with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in November 1994. CCMCAG works to support the sustainable development of Mapuche communities in the Octava region of Chile through providing training and support to community members.

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ABYA YALA FUND for Indigenous Self-Development in South & Meso America
P.O. Box 28386
Oakland, CA 94604
Phone (510) 763-6553
Fax (510) 763-6588
E-mail: abyayala@earthlink.net

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