A Message From the Heart of the World

Sierra Nevada Region, northern Colombia. November’s newsletter featured a summary of partner projects – and we saw very few purely social projects.  Here is one from Rodolfo Rodriguez, of Fundacion Prosierra Nevada, working in Northern Colombia with the Wiwa Indigenous group.

“In September 19, 2010, as a starting point to design a conservation and climate change project, I ran a pilot test using the ten seed technique for a needs assessment with 8 Wiwa indigenous people (4 women, 4 men) belonging to two (Rio Molino and El Encanto) isolated villages,

4 hours away from Santa Marta, one of the main cities of the Sierra Nevada region, Colombia. These 8 people were representative of 70 families—30 and 40 respectively for the 2 villages. Women group prioritized elderly support, promotion of cultural tradition and health issues. Men prioritized technical support to crops and promotion of natural health practices.”


“The community based needs assessment prioritized the fact that elderly people from 70 families in two Wiwa villages, among them Mamos (male spiritual leaders), Sagas (wise women) and Parteras (local healers) – all of them keepers of traditional knowledge, considered the foundations of the indigenous culture – are not receiving the minimum social assistance (proper food, clothes and proper housing) caused

by the lack of financial resources and a missing policy among the indigenous organization oriented towards elderly people.This undermines their ultimate goal of strengthening their traditional government destabilizes their cultural foundations and finally challenges the survival of this indigenous community as a whole.”

In our September OL 341 course, Rodolfo developed a Social Assistance Program to solve this problem:

Social Assistance Program Conceptual Outline.
Activity 1.
Ask and debate with political and indigenous spiritual leaders about the feasibility to implement such a program
Activity 2. Agree with indigenous organization and health indigenous institution on the design of the program
Activity 3. Use of public resources from Red Juntos to implement the program and tackle main objectives of the social assistance program to elderly people
Activity 4. Hold an introductory workshop/meeting with the elderly community to introduce the benefits of the new program

Project Goal Statement:
Elderly people from 70 families in two Wiwa villages, among them Mamos (male spiritual leaders), Sagas (wise women) and Parteras (local healers) are protected by a social assistance program receiving food, clothes and proper housing, thanks to a new policy agreement among the indigenous organization and the public program Red Juntos, and its financial resources. This will strengthen their traditional government; stabilize their cultural foundations and it will guarantee the survival of this indigenous community and its traditions.

Read more about the Wiwa in the brochure: A Message From the Heart of the World.

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OL 341 Community Based Adaptation – the course Rodolfo took.

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