A sustainable community is born

Latin America Press

Based on the principles of Buen Vivir, indigenous youth in the Amazon create an intercultural community.

University students from seven indigenous communities who live together in the Peruvian city of Iquitos, on the banks of the Amazon River, have created a sustainable community based on the tenets of Buen Vivir, or “good living” — the concept of existing in harmony with other people and with nature.

The youths, of Achuar, Kichwa, Murui, Tikuna, Matsés, Shawi and Awajún descent, decided in 2010 to start the Sustainable Community in the student housing where they live, which is run by the non-governmental organization, Red Ambiental Loretana (The Loreto Environmental Network). The initiative was first launched during their first conference, taking place between February 21 and March 1, during which they established the four pillars on which the community would be based: time, resources, funding and spirit.

Jorge Pérez Rubio, an indigenous leader in the Huitoto community, explained on his blog “Manguaré Milenario” (http:/irapay.blogspot.com) that the goal is to establish a “dynamic and intercultural community that shapes people into generators of progress for humans and for nature, with the same desire and brilliance of talent.”

He added that the point is to create a community that exhibits “the ancestral culture and its link to a healthy science, where the future is outlined, and the past is taken as a moral legacy [that is] heroic, profuse and instructive; and the present must explain the importance of the completion of goals and dreams in the logic of the ‘here and now’.”

The members of the Sustainable Community will lead their lives by the customs specific to their native community and in accordance with its functionality, Pérez Rubio said. “For example, the lletarafue —the code of coexistence of the Murui people that encompasses moral teachings oriented toward finding harmony with other humans and with nature— will guide the Murui members of the group.” When the time comes to evaluate a situation and make decisions, a binding mechanism that connects all group members and seeks long-lasting unity and mutual understanding must be in place, he explained.

The community will revolve around the axis of spirituality. Each member will share his or her traditions, including the use of ayahuasca (a herbal psychoactive mixture)  by the Awajún and Achuar people or the Murui rituals that incorporate coca or tobacco. Moreover, the role of coordinator for the community’s agenda will be on a rotating basis and have no fixed term. A student will remain in the position as long as necessary to understand and carry out the system well.

“The Sustainable Community is being built on territory its members know,” Pérez Rubio concluded. “They have academic goals and at the same time [seek to] increase their love for the growth of their roots.” —Latinamerica Press.