To continue my collaboration with the Cofán women artisans in the Amazon to promote their arts and crafts as a means for a sustainable economy.
These communities are vital to the health of the planet as they continue to be the stewards of our forests. They have a spiritual connection with Mother Nature. This project honors their livelihood through their arts and crafts. For most, it is their main source of income. They have been forced to enter the modern system due to extractive and mass agricultural industries, which have disrupted their traditional way of life. Their rivers and soil are polluted, illness and cancer rates are high and medical help is costly. Although extractive industries are lucrative for governments and corporations, the communities see no benefit in any form and are left on their own, as they struggle to maintain their livelihood and culture. There aren't enough groups to bring sustainable aid to these areas and there are many communities that could benefit from our contributions. Please contribute what you can and share the link. From one community to another, Thank You!♥
In March, I met Emergildo Criollo, who is the President of the Cofán Community of Dureno, when he was visiting Los Angeles. We spoke of our mutual interest to promote the arts and crafts as a means to create a sustainable economy for indigenous communities, as for most, it is their main source of income. He invited me to visit his community and I accepted.
In May, I traveled to the Ecuadorian Amazon and spent a week living and collaborating with the Cofán women artisans. I worked closely with Rebeca Mashacori (VP of Asociación Sukû and Director of the Women's Association of FEINCE) and with Feliza Ortiz (President of Asociación Sukû), who together head the Asociación Sukû, an all women group that create arts and crafts.
All projects must go through FEINCE, The Federation of the Indigenous Nation of the Cofán of Ecuador, which ensures projects benefit the entire Cofán Community. In Dureno there are 500 Cofán. The full Cofán population totals around 1,500 (down from 15,000 in the mid-16th century) with settlements spread throughout the Ecuadorian and Colombian Amazon.
In the time I spent with the women, we collaborated on a number of accessories. I brought designs with me, inspired by their crafts, which I left with them. The women created new pieces inspired by my sketches, where they developed new techniques for the new designs. In Quito, I met with Fundación Sinchi Sacha, who work with indigenous communities and have stores and galleries that carry their arts and crafts. They were excited to see the latest work based on the designs I brought for them and were looking forward to more work from them. They felt this new work would bring the community more business.
My goal is to return in October to work with the Cofán to build a space for the artisans (the community had previously requested their municipality for such a space and were denied due to lack of funds), where they will create, store and showcase their arts and crafts. I will stay a month with them working on new collections that will be marketed abroad as well as markets in Ecuador.
WHAT WILL YOUR CONTRIBUTION DO? Your contribution will ensure I return to the Cofán community with funds to build a space for the artisans, while establishing a continued collaboration with financial backing. It will fund the purchase of a laptop computer, printer and internet (they currently use the school's computer and travel to the nearest city to use internet service, which entails a combination of walking, a boat and a bus ride). A computer and internet service in the community will be beneficial for communication, as well as collaborating on designs and other needs. It will also fund the purchase of tools, supplies and materials, as well as the creation of new collections of high quality products. And it will trigger the growth of a sustainable economy for the community based on the promotion of their arts and crafts, through innovation and design, while incorporating their millenary work into contemporary designs, as they remaining authentic to their autochthonous artistry.
My overall goal is to continue my work with indigenous communities from around the World; to act as a conduit and share my design skills and ties to relevant markets, as well as organizations working for the protection of the environment and advancement of indigenous rights; while creating beautiful high quality products based on these cultures' unique arts and crafts.
WHAT DO YOU GET? You are a participant in making a difference in the lives of the Cofán! Your pictures and names will grace a special place in the creative workspace AND you'll receive fun and beautiful handmade rewards listed on the side bar, if you choose that option when you pledge. Thank you!
PLEDGES ARE ACCEPTED WORLDWIDE!
If you rather receive a tax write-off for a major contribution, please write a check to Amazon Watch with Violeta's Cofán Project on memo. Contact me for information to send your contribution.
NOTE: You can also view Crude http://www.crudethemovie.com to see the devastation this community has suffered from Oil extraction in their territory. Crude documents the ongoing case against Chevron Texaco for almost 40 years of destruction, damages and illnesses.
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THANKS FOR YOUR SUPPORT! ~ Violeta
Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.