Dear World Family,
I have been out of touch for a year completing my World Wheel book and many projects have transpired during this time, which I am eager to share with you. At the end of last year we started a school for the Shuar Children, ages three to twelve on the Refugio Amazonico, the World Wheel Project in the Ecuadorian Amazon rainforest east of Macas. The school has come about by the generous donation from Markell Brooks and others.
Camilo and Federico Tsamaraint and Solania Unupi are our shuar instructors. We are excited about the classes and it was tremendously fun for all; the children, parents, elders, and ourselves.
The classes are a way to preserve the Shuar culture, and the knowledge and preservation of the rainforest that is so vital to the survival of our planet. The children are extremely bright and eager to learn their own language that is being lost by entering the Spanish speaking schools.
David Aubrey and Michael Sterns were also filming and recording for an educational World Wheel film. On second camera was Verona, who is from Iris Arts and Education Group. We hope to gather funds to make a feature, and are thrilled that we already have a trailer edited by David.
We are happy that the government has now given funds for the school. This pays teachers and provides two meals per day for the children. There were no funds allotted for the support of the indigenous cultural.
The World Wheel has been able to give $1,000 every year from your contributions, so that the children can study their own culture and language.
In this same village, Matico Lema's Bed and Breakfast is doing well. This project was also started in 1999 through the World Wheel. Verona photographed and crafted a beautiful website for Matico.
The website link describes the work Matico does with "battered" women in her women's group, "Wrari Maki (Women's Hands)," and the bed and breakfast. Matico uses the proceeds to help fund her work with women and their indigenous crafts. We are grateful for the contribution made by Iris Arts & Educational Group to our ongoing work in Ecuador.
The vision of the World Wheel Project has evolved. It now focuses on the creation of Wisdom Centers. These centers will continue to be established in the remaining 12 countries circling the planet. This will preserve and develop knowledge critical for the healing and survival of our planet. They will serve as crucibles for the birth of wisdom necessary for our future.
These Wisdom Centers in Ecuador are the results from the last eight years of work on the Second World Wheel. Each Wisdom Center enter preserves a disappearing culture, and each ceremony event is an attempt to protect the health of our Earth; the people, the flora, the fauna, and the biosphere of our planet.
We are delighted to have a very fine Shuar shaman associated with the Refuge. Pedro has diagnosed and healed many visitors that have come from the States. We have video interviews with him that are quite informative about shamanic work in the Amazon.
With Pedro's permission we are looking for funding to edit this precious knowledge on film and present it to the public. This will be a contribution toward our own mental health and the health of the planet.
The basalt sculpture, "Anaconda Woman, Spirit of the Water" is coming along with the help of my Shuar Friends. We work in the rain by the sacred waterfall as I teach the Shuar children how to carve. Great Joy!
When the projects on the Refugio Amazonico are complete, this will make the Refugio self sustained.
Here is a description of what we are developing on the Refuge, and our need to find people to partner with the indigenous Shuars on the following projects:
1. We need someone who has experience in education to be partners with Federico Tsamaraint in the Refugio Shuar School. We need volunteers student / teachers to come and not only teach English, but help organize the classes and the Learning Center. Federico Tsamaraint's email: firstname.lastname@example.org
2. We need to find someone who has knowledge about building a fishery business to partner with Tuntuam Camilo Tsamaraint. email: email@example.com
3. We need a partner for Solania Unupi and Federico Tsamaraint to maintain the orchards of yucca, papaya, peanuts, papas, and bananas that are already planted. They will be mature in November 2007 and ready to sell in the market in Macas, the closest jungle town.
The land and money for the orchards and beginning work on the fishery were donated by Sally Kranzler and Henry Swam. (Thank you!)
4. We need a partner for Solania, Federico, and Camilo, to maintain the grounds of the Refugio Amazonico center, which means weeding the paths that the jungle continually wants to take back into themselves, repairing the buildings, re-thatching the roofs, etc.
The center is along the Yukias River and the rest of the 300 acres of the Refuge is a nature reserve to protect the forest and wildlife: lagoon, island, two rivers, and waterfalls donated by Tara Allen, Markell Brooks, Casey Straus, and your donations.
5. We need a partner for Tuntuam Camilo and Federico Tsamaraint to build a traditional house by the fishponds, and a small store to sell their products.
6. We need a partner for Solania Unupi who makes traditional Shuar jewelry, handbags, and belts from the fibers and seeds of the rainforest. She needs an outlet in the United States and money for her supplies and her work with the other Shuar women. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for putting your thoughts to this project and may Arutum (God/spirit in Shuar language) inspire. May we all put joy into the world in our own ways, living lightly on this earth, and walking in conscious awareness. This is the healing needed for the planet at this time of disasters and political confusion.
I send much love and gratitude for all those who have contributed into the lives of our dear Amazon and Andean families, and to all who read this newsletter.
P.P.S. I am happy to announce that my book World Wheel: One Woman's Quest for Peace, is now available on my website.
Photos by Edie Hartsorne:
Vijali in a healing ceremony with shaman Pedro in the Amazon
Shuar child preparing for the ceremony, Nantar drawing
Shuar children preparing for ceremony
Matico and her work with Otavaleñan women
Vijali giving out drawing from the children in New Mexico
Photos by Verona Fonté:
Federico and Solania teaching in the Refuge
Edie and Vijali teaching in the
Shuar children in our school
Photos by Vijali Hamilton:
Photos by Catherine Allport:
Vijali wearing the International Peace Belt for ceremony