Indigenous youth between the Amazon and the city
More and more young people from indigenous village communities in the Peruvian Amazon region are moving to Puerto Maldonado to study. When they arrive in the city, many of them face existential problems.
Our partner organisation FENAMAD (Federación Nativa del Río de Madre de Dios y afluentes) supports the young people in their everyday lives so that they can complete their studies. FENAMAD’s student accommodation, Casa Miraflores, offers students a sheltered space where they can live and learn. A psychologist takes care of the young people individually in order to support them in planning their future and to strengthen their self-confidence.
Photo report about the project in Peru
Maribel Meshi Shanocua comes from the indigenous community of the Ese Eja. She is 26 years old and has a five-year-old daughter who lives with the grandparents. She wants to give her daughter a better future and therefore studies nursing in Puerto Maldonado. In Casa Miraflores she has found a safe home for the period of her studies.
Maribel is on her way from Casa Miraflores to her school. The educational system in Peru puts indigenous children and young people at a disadvantage right from the start. At the public schools the Spanish language dominates and the quality of the schools depends on the economic situation of the parents, which is particularly weak in the indigenous population. In order to get a good education the young people have to leave their communities.
Maribel is studying nursing in order to find a job in the health sector.
Together with other indigenous young people she lives in Casa Miraflores, a student accommodation. The students do the housework together. In the kitchen they cook together, do the cleaning and talk about their day.
At home in the village: Maribel’s father is a fisherman and sells Brazil nuts he picks in the forest; her mother makes handicrafts and sells them in the city. The two have six more children. They are very happy when Maribel comes to visit them and tells them about her life in the city.
Segundo Rogelio Zumaeta Saavedra comes from the indigenous community of the Yine. Because there are hardly any bilingual teachers in his community, he has decided to train as a teacher for intercultural education.
Segundo Rogelio with his mother. He is 24 years old and the youngest of 10 children. His mother is a smallholder and his father died when he was still very small.
The difference between life in the city and life in the village is very big. In the conversations with indigenous young people it becomes clear how difficult it is for them to leave their families and the communities and how much they miss their lives at home. Segundo Rogelio helps prepare “Masato”, the traditional maize drink, during a visit at home.
Many parents send their children to a university in Puerto Maldonado if at all possible. Often, however, they can hardly afford the costs for accommodation and food in the city. Segundo Rogelio works in a restaurant in the city to earn money for his studies.
Here Segundo Rogelio is seeking network connection for his phone. His village community is located far away from the city in the Amazon region.
The way home from the city is long and has to be covered by boat. Katya Mallea (front right), who takes care of the young people in Puerto Maldonado, sometimes accompanies them on their visits to their home villages.
The balancing act the young people have to perform when they study in the city is great. It is not easy for them to find a new home in the city. At the same time they know that it is existential for their families and the whole community that they succeed in their endeavour. So there is a lot of pressure on the young people.
Katya Mallea from FENAMAD is a psychologist at Casa Miraflores who looks after the young people. She supports them in school-related questions and in finding their way around the city without losing their cultural identity.
As a psychologist, Katya Mallea looks after the young people individually in order to strengthen their self-confidence and organizes group workshops to promote social competence and personality development. The focus is also on living together as a community. This care work is existential.
Casa Miraflores was renovated in 2017 with the support of EcoSolidar. The kitchen and the bedrooms were renovated and a fence was built around the property, as the house is located in a rather dangerous area of Puerto Maldonado. The young people move around carefully and are glad that the house was provided with new doors and locks for security reasons.
The students do the household chores together. They cook, clean and maintain the garden around the house, where they plant vegetables and flowers.