The Wayana Peoples of the Amazon have understood the profound loss of epidemics and pandemics for centuries. As the 2020 COVID-19 Pandemic had spread from North America down the Western hemisphere, the Wayana Peoples are in urgent need of respectful and genuine international partnerships.
Led by Indigenous youth, the COVID-19 Indigenous Health Partnership brings together medical students, physicians, allied health professionals, and human rights experts to partner with Indigenous Peoples and communities on their responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Collaborators from the United Nations Global Indigenous Youth Caucus , Harvard Medical School Covid 19 Student Response and the Mulokot Foundation are raising funds and awareness in honor of Indigenous life & land. This fundraiser will go towards healthcare and environmental needs of the Wayana Peoples of the Amazon, Suriname and their neighbors in French Guiana and Brazil.
In the southwest of Suriname, Wayana villages of around 500 people live along the rivers shared with French Guiana. This forested community is led by Paramount Chief of the Wayana Indigenous, Ipomadi Pelenapin, a healer who provides medical care and spiritual guidance to hundreds of Wayana from multiple countries. Mulokot Foundation Chairperson and Wayana community leader Jupta Lilian Itoewaki describes Suriname “the greenest country in the world”. At 94.56% forest, Suriname is a vibrant green of primary land.
Jupta Lilian Itoewaki : Southeast village leader of the Wayana Peoples of the Amazon, Suriname, Chairperson of the Mulokot Foundation and community representative within the United Nations & Harvard Medical School Indigenous Health Partnership.
This article speaks to the historical and cultural context of the Wayana Peoples, environmental consequences of contemporary gold mining, and outlines the necessity of self-sufficient health supplies, water and food for a remote population surrounded by the most densely forested area internationally. Water poisoning from heavy metals, as well as increased travel restrictions and near absent government funds, has made it absolutely necessary for the global community to be accountable to the so-called "Suriname gold rush" during the coronavirus pandemic. Hospitals in North American and European countries, which benefit from this gold rush, are equipped with the basic supplies of saline solution and potable water, because keeping blood volume afloat during a pandemic is a necessity. For the Amazon and the Earth to survive, we must collectively empower Indigenous Peoples and directly support their autonomous survival on their terms.
Read here and here for more information on why it's essential to directly fund Indigenous communities, as opposed to investing in conservationist NGOs. By donating to this fund, you will contribute to the human, spiritual and environmental needs of the Wayana Peoples of the Amazon and their ancestral home.
Wayana village Kawemhakan from the Sky. Image courtesy of the Mulokot Foundation.
In Wayana legend, “a great spirit of the forest is known as Meliimë, the jaguar. It is used by the Wayana as a sign for unity and for being invincible, in other words: together we stand strong.”
Partners: UN Global Indigenous Youth Caucus (GIYC), Harvard Medical School COVID-19 Student Response Team, UN Youth Envoy, UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), UN International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (UN FAO).
Donations over $40, on a first-come basis, will receive a packet of Northeast native seeds from the Wild Seed Project if they live in the geographic locations of the remaining seeds.
To donate inquire about corporate matching, or to donate through Project LETS , a 501(c) non-profit organization collaborating with the COVID-19 Indigenous Health Partnership, contact directly.
- Olivia Smith Rodrigues
- Raina Wellman
- Alex Keuroghlian
Fundraising team (2)
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