Native community of Kechwa-Wayku needs your help and support!
Message received from Werlin Guerra Amaringo – Previous major of Kechwa-Wayku community, Lamas (Tarapoto)
Our community is called “native community Kechwa-Wayku” known as Wayku, we belong to the district and province of Lamas, located in the region of San Martin, in Peru.
Wayku is the capital of the Kechwa people from San Martin region, and part of the Peruvian Amazon. In the capital there is about 45 native Kechwa communities.
In Wayku we do not have drainage systems, like they do in the capital. This is one of the reasons why still today we have a 70% rate of malnutrition and infectious diseases. There is 6,000 Kechwa inhabitants in Lamas, and around 50,000 in the whole region.
The 90% of the Wayku population are illiterate and farmers, which produce just as our ancestors descendants Chankas: cassava, hard and soft corn, bananas, several variaties of beans, peanuts, etc.
We know that the needs will always exist and, even more in these times of globalization, but with regard to the community, we have always been focused in working with the elders and youth. They are the main actors and the raw material for our culture and traditions to preserve and maintain our cultural heritage and not losing the knowledge that only the greatest Sages know. This means that educational institutions in our community are the key to achieve these goals. We need help to get the basic needs and obtain resources to achieve these objectives, as we have educational facilities consisting of living rooms turned into classrooms with walls in ruins.
It is important to work with children and youth, to teach the culture and pass on the knowledge of our ancestors, because we know that people without culture is exposed to crime, lack of peace and love for nature and for the community. We need support in order to arrange workshops where young people can play music, learn the native language Kechwa, learn to cook traditional dishes (organic and healthy) and learn how to make fabrics and crafts in general.
In this way we can change the vision of the youth using the ancestral knowledge that allow us to live in peace and achieve our objectives in community, ensuring the transmission of our culture to prevent its extinction.
The seniors (elders), with wise knowledge, are not valued or supported but manipulated to present a good image for the central governments, where women do not know their rights and indigenous peoples are only livelihood for others to carry their projects. The elderly develops an important role, to convey their knowledge to new generations through workshops where young people can learn, while the elderly can be compensated in some way. In this way, it is possible to show them the importance of their roll in society and the respect we have towards them in an affective and effective manner.
There are many things to value in our community and work jointly with the population. There is will, but this is not enough. We also need opportunities, support and care for the Kechwa people to claim their needs.