Building strong local partnerships: A community gathering in Bena Jema to discuss Alianza Arkana’s Scholarship Program


Today was an important day as the village chief of Bena Jema organized a community meeting to discuss Alianza Arkana’s scholarship program with village leaders, parents and potential scholarship recipients.

Bena Jema is a small Shipibo community of approximately 160 families just outside Pucallpa, the regional capital of Ucayali. This urban native settlement was established nine years ago when Shipibo families from the more remote parts of the Amazon rainforest decided to migrate to the urban area of Pucallpa to look for better economic and educational opportunities.

Future_teachers_from_BenajemaMany of the families still have very close ties with their villages of origin but they have expressed a concern that the connection with their rich cultural heritage is quickly fading in this urban environment, especially regarding the younger generation with all the temptations of modern city life.

To help preserve the Shipibo culture, Alianza Arkana has developed a scholarship program that will support two students from this community,  along with four students from two other Shipibo communities, to get their intercultural bilingual teaching degree at the National Indigenous University of the Amazon. The scholarship will pay all the University fees over five years, including a hefty sum for the final process of qualification, and a contribution to study materials.

Many students start their university degrees but then are forced to leave because they do not have the money to pay their fees. Extra support is needed for getting a better representation of Benajema_meeting_3Shipibo teachers in the schools in the Peruvian Amazon Rainforest and will also help to ensure better quality education with respect to the Shipibo culture and specific needs of Shipibo students.

It was a very fruitful meeting which provided a great opportunity to inform the community about the work of Alianza Arkana and to get valuable input from the community for the enhancement of our different project designs.

We will also be releasing videos over the next few months about all of our projects and campaigns including footage of the communities we are working in.

Deborah Rivett, Saturday, 24 September 2011