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Presenting the 2014 Rising Voices Amazonia Grantees

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Rising Voices is pleased to announce this year's Amazonia microgrants will be awarded to seven citizen media outreach projects across South America. 

Earlier this year, we invited local Amazon communities to submit their ideas on how citizen media could help to tell their own digital story. We received a total of 52 proposals from six different countries focusing on a variety of topics that included climate change, biodiversity, conflict and reconciliation. Many projects came from indigenous communities across the region who wanted to embrace digital technologies for their communication needs.

Applicants were given the option to share their proposal publicly through our interactive platform available in both Spanish and Portuguese. There they were able to exchange feedback and comments with other applicants, as well as help facilitate potential collaborative partnerships.

Originally we were slated to select six winners, but we were able to fund seven projects in total. These grantees will join the Rising Voices community, where we will provide microgrants so that they can carry out their ideas. They will also receive mentoring and other technical support, as well as amplification and translation of their digital stories.

Congratulations to the newest grantee projects! The seven winners (in alphabetical order by country):

Bolivia: Tsimané Linguistic Universe

Many rural Tsimané indigenous communities in the Beni region of Bolivia are left without Internet or mobile connections. While there is hope that a new government telecommunications satellite will eventually fill these connectivity gaps, those wanting access to the web must make a trek to the nearest town of San Borja. When they do get online, there is little to no content in the Tsimané language, but this project seeks to address this need. A team of young people, which includes students, teachers, and researchers, who often make this trek themselves to study or work in San Borja will create a multimedia encyclopedia that collects digital audio recordings to encourage a new generation of tech-savvy young people to use their language online.

Brasil: Rádio Arraia

Since 2011, young artists from the project “Rivers of Meeting” located in the Afro-indigenous community of Cabelo Seco situated between the Tocantins and Itaciúnas rivers have been producing a rich variety of creative content about the realities of their surroundings. Despite a high-degree of social marginalization, poverty, and drug-related violence, the community of Cabelo Seco reflects solidarity, cooperation, and a colorful popular culture, which has been passed on by generations. The project will create an online/offline radio station to help capture the richness of this popular culture through the production of radio theater, local interviews, debates, home remedies, and citizen journalism, all produced by a team of youth participants using free software tools and shared through social networks.

Colombia: Yadiko Uruk + Sons of Yadiko

Dozens of analog audio and video cassettes containing ancestral stories from a community of Witoto – M+n+ka indigenous people, as well as documentation of the sacred ritual called Yadiko, were recorded by external researchers in the 1980s. This rich content, however, remains inaccessible to the community of Cabildo Milán located in La Chorrera in the Colombian Amazon region, where the recordings were made. A young university student named Ever Kuiru, who was orphaned at at a young age and left the community, wants to transfer these recordings to a digital format and present them to the community in the hopes of inspiring and training others to make their own podcasts. Through this process, Ever hopes to maintain ties with his roots through the stories of his late father and grandfather found in these recordings.

Ecuador: Shuar y Achuar: Our Digital Stories in Our Own Language

Community radio stations in the Ecuadorian Amazonian indigenous communities Shuar and Achuar have a rich history of transmitting in their native languages about issues important to this region. The people behind these radio stations want to learn how to take these intercultural stories to the web using free software tools to stream online and create blogs to complement their traditional transmission. Young members of these radio stations will be trained in the use of these free tools as a way to strengthen inter-generational dialogue and communication in their own native Shuar and Achuar languages.

Ecuador: Southern Amazon: Young Images of Resistance and Ancestral Alternatives

Sumak Allpa (Forest Alive) is a concept promoted by Kichwa peoples living in the community of Sarayaku in the Ecuadorian province of Pastaza. Sarayaku is a community that can only be reached by small plane or canoe; there are no highways leading in or out. However, thanks to a satellite connection, young indigenous people will use free software and community digital video to share their stories of resistance following Sumak Allpa in defense of their territories against the XI Oil Round, which seeks to provide concessions for oil extraction in large sections of ancestral territory belonging to seven indigenous nations located in the Southern Amazon in Ecuador.  

Perú: Chariboan Joi

A storytelling festival planned for the community of Nueva Betania on the outskirts of Yarinacocha in Ucayali, Peru will be the starting point for this project. With support from the Arkana Alliance, newly trained citizen reporters from the Organization of Indigenous Youth from the Ucayali Region (OJIRU) will explore how to use mobile phones to cover the event and help document the legends and stories shared by the local artists in the native Shipibo language and translated into other languages. From there, the citizen reporters will continue to create digital stories about their communities focusing on preserving cultural traditions and language, but also examining the effects of extractivism on the surrounding environment. By establishing partnerships with local radio stations and employing other distribution techniques, such as loud speakers in public spaces, the citizen reporters will be able to better reach those without internet access.

Venezuela: Jatta Wöötanö

In the Yekuana indigenous community of Boca de Ninchare located within the Caura River Basin in Venezuela, a new generation of young people are discovering the potential of digital media as these tools become more widely available. This project will engage young people from the community to create a team of “ethno-communicators,” a term used to describe individuals who use social communication and have a deep knowledge of their culture with a desire to share knowledge. Members of the coordinating team have strong ties to the Indigenous University of Venezuela as current students and former professors. While there is a draw of young people to the cities to use these technology, thanks to a community Internet connection provided by a national telecommunications company, these ethno-communicators will now have the chance to tell their stories from where the stories take place.

This Rising Voices Amazonia project is made possible by the generous support of Avina Americas, Fundación Avina, and the Skoll Foundation.

Please join us in welcoming these new projects and look for updates very soon.

Our work building bridges across cultures, languages and perspectives is more urgent than ever before.

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