Empowering Shipibo Girls

Much of Alianza Arkana’s educational work is directed towards providing high quality intercultural education to indigenous young people, particularly the Shipìbo Konibo, thereby offering them increased life opportunities.

We are concerned that with the increasing erosion of traditional indigenous cultures, and the move from rural communities to the cities, young people are losing touch with their cultural roots and suffering from high levels of disaffection and alienation with consequent effects on their physical, mental and emotional health. There is evidence that suicide rate is especially high among Amazonian indigenous young people.

068In addition, our experiences of conducting interviews for scholarship students and doing long term community based work, have shown us that many Shipibo young women are very timid, lack the ability to express themselves, have low confidence and self-esteem, and have a very limited view of their future life possibilities.

To address this, in collaboration with Shipibo Joi and Girls for the World, we plan to run a pilot program in January 2013 offering a five-day personal development program for 15 teenage girls from the Shipibo community of San Francisco.

The program will be based on a five-day retreat developed by Karen Hanson, which has been successfully implemented with teenage girls in India. Our overall intention is to bring resources and support to Shipibo teenage girls, to support their cultural identity, pride and hope for their future.

More specifically, this program will aim to:

•Develop the self-confidence and self-esteem of the participants.

•Encourage young women to see themselves as potential leaders within their communities and develop their leadership skills.

•Help the participants build a vision of the future for themselves that encompasses wider life opportunities.

•Use creative methods such as writing, drawing and painting, and bodywork to encourage greater self-expression.

At the same time, we will be working with five carefully selected Shipibo women who serve as positive role models to teenage girls.

These five women will participate in the pilot program and then receive further training and regular follow-up to enable them to implement this program themselves in their home and neighboring communities. In this way, we plan to give the program extended coverage to a much wider group of Shipibo girls, while empowering both the girls and the Shipibo women working with them.

Deborah Rivett, Monday, 02 April 2012

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