Peruvian Heartache - Doc Film

$370 of $7,000 goal

Raised by 4 people in 39 months
The Indigenous people are suffering all over the world. I wanted to share their story and decided to start in what I believe to be the heart of the earth... Peru, the home of the Amazon and the Andes, where remnants of one of the oldest known civilizations exists. Along with my guide, Yieber, we have visited many remote regions of this country to share the stories of the original people and help to find solutions to their daily struggles.

Tourism has exploded in Cusco, a city sitting at nearly 12,000 ft above sea level, but the money coming into the country has had both a positive and negative affect. 

In a culture that has never used currency, what are the implications? How has a changing world added to the deteriorization of the traditions of these people?
The women's weaving council in Patabamba 

Pollution, climate change, invasion by big business, mining, logging, huge livestock factories... these are all factors which have contributed to the suffering that the indegenous must endure.
¨Money is the root of all evils¨ says Richard, a textiles weaver and porter for the Incan trail. He wants a better life for his children but also strives to preserve the traditions of his ancestors. 

We are well on our way, capturing their stories, but we need your help. The more we film, the more we expose the pressing needs of these people. Adequate nutritional food, clothing, education and clean water are challenges many face daily.  

You can read more about the progress of our film on our blog.

Thanks for your support!
Why am I doing this? (*Updated)
In 2010 I returned to Canada after living abroad several years. I had visited many countries and witnessed firsthand how differently people lived in other parts of the world. One of the first things I noticed was how North Americans were over consuming and extremely wasteful. 
Environmental Impacts of Consumption  
"Calculations show that the planet has available 1.9 hectares of biologically productive land per person to supply resources and absorb wastes—yet the average person on Earth already uses 2.3 hectares worth. These “ecological footprints” range from the 9.7 hectares claimed by the average American to the 0.47 hectares used by the average Mozambican. " (World Watch Institute)
There's no shortage of land, it's strictly a distribution problem. On average Canadians discard 40% of their food.  As a filmmaker I used my journalist skills to dig for information. Paper waste carbon emissions toxic foodglobal warming... Understandably overwhelmed by the facts and statistics, I felt I had to do something.
I decided to create a program to bring awareness and to teach simple ways to reduce our impact both locally and globally. My interactive transmedia experience, 30ZeroZero (30 days, Zero Waste, Zero Impact) was a great success. I adjusted my habits and reduced my waste to minimal amounts while influencing others to do the same. But after 4 years of buying local, riding transit and re-purposing goods I felt it wasn't enough. I wanted to do more. My dream is to live off-grid, build a tiny home and grow my own food, but where, when and how? I came up against so many obstacles. I realized that money was the root of problem. We live in a capitalistic society based on a failing monetary system.  Occupy Wall Street pointed that out, but did protesting  really change anything?  I aligned myself with scholars, scientists and activists to delve deeper, hoping to find simple solutions. Stop Reset GoIngienous Designs and the Institute for Future Living inspired me to use my talents as a storyteller to document how change can, and will, make a difference. 
*On October 13th, 2015 my journey began with 9 days on the coast of Peru, in the biggest and capital city, Lima. I was hosted by a wonderful and generous family who lived in a modest neighborhood just outside the city. It gave me an opportunity to adjust to the different culture and practice my limited spanish. They were sad to see me go, but I promised to return and spend time with them when before I left the country.
(Brigette, myself and Ines in San Martin, Lima)

I am now in Cusco, where I met a fantasic couple who work as guides. Yieber and Carolina have opened their home to me and have pledged their commitment to partner with me on this important film. They run their own travel company and also have a volunteer organization to build chimneys and greenhouses high in the mountains. Adventure Heart Peru  is different than other local (many foriegn owned) travel agencies as they pay their porters well and treat them as family. We have visited many remote communities and next month we will trek to ruins of the most famous ancient civilization in Peru, Machu Picchu. Unfortunately I had some problems with altitude sickness so had to take it easy for the first week here. Thank goodness that's over!

I had originally planned to begin documenting various new and established communities in South America that are striving to maintain sustainable practices, but since arriving I have seen that many of the indigenous are simply struggling for a decent lifestyle. We can learn so much from these people as they practice many techniques which are environmentally sound practices like; permaculture, off-grid communities and shared resources. They live in small hubs which can be models for the future lifestyles required for preserving both our planet and humanity. 

I'm asking for your help in producing this learning tool. I'm a minimalist who´s proven I can work on a shoestring budget but there are too many costs that are stretching my savings. (also, the needs are far greater than I expected)

I humbly request that you consider sponsoring me for the past and future expenses like:
Communications - Phone & Internet connectivity
Camera Equipment - repairs to existing gear and additional items suitable for jungle and remote locations (charging batteries won't always be possible)
Transportation - I travel green and will bus/hike/ride-share when possible
Medical - Vaccinations, insurance, medications and safety supplies
Crew - Guides, translators and when necessary extra camera and audio operators. 
Post Production - editing, music, graphics, voice over and additional interviews with experts
Accommodations - While for the most part I will be living out of a backpack or participating within the communities I'm documenting, I may require a safe place to rest between locations.
*Support for the Locals - Each place we visit I can feel my heart breaking. The children are so sweet and need so much. Books, school supplies, and daily lunches are needed most. We also need to pay many of our interview subjects since missing even half a day of work can vastly affect their ability to sustain themselves. 
Contingencies - When traveling abroad theirs always extra expenses that pop up. Whatever is left over will be used towards marketing and distribution of the film.
If you have resources, ideas, extra airmiles or anything you think may help me realize this project I'd love to hear from you! 

Thanks for your good intentions and well wishes. 

Alison (aka Noni) Richards

Please share!
+ Read More
This morning I received good news and bad news. The good news is that the footage of illegal mining that I have been trying to get from a Peruvian television station has been made available to me. This was an exclusive report which covered the raid and closure of a gold mine operation on the Madre de Dios River. I had tried to get my own footage of that region but there are new (they spring up overnight) illegal mines all over the area and it is extemely dangerous. (It's especially for a blond haired blue eyed girl like me! I stick out like a sore thumb in the jungle) So after weeks of email exchange in badly translated spanish, I have been given the rights to use the footage. The bad news... it's $500 per minute and the special is 10:56 long.
So, here I am again, asking for more money. I need this footage! It shows the devastation and corruption that I was not able to capture myself. I could describe the activity but it just wouldn't have the same impact that the images do.
I'm almost finished filming this documentary. I have a few more interviews to capture here in Lima and then I return to Canada where I will start post production. I never budgeted for stock footage when I considered the costs for production, but this expense is still a small price to pay for the value of the video. Also, it contains an interview with the head of the ministry of mining and I have been unable to secure an interview with him. It's too dangerous to ask questions of some people. Did you see my reports on activists being killed? So please share this update and donate to this film if you can. You can also email transfer directly to me which means I get 100% of the funds, (this site takes a percentage for admin and operating costs)
Thanks to everyone for supporting me on this incredible journey. I can't wait to show you the results of my investigations. Peruvian Heartache is an important film that demonstrates how crucial it is that we protect our culture, traditions and our planet.
-- excerpt from News Station AmericaTV

"Por políticas del canal nosotros tenemos unas tarifas establecidas para este tipo de solicitudes.

Para documentales, nuestros costos son los siguientes :
- $ 100.00 + IGV (el minuto, imágenes no exclusivas)
- $ 500.00 + IGV (el minuto cuando son imágenes exclusivas)

Se tiene que realizar un convenio con nuestra área legal y abonar en nuestras cuentas antes de entregar el material limpio."

-- And subsequent follow-up on length and status

"Buenas noches, solo para informarles que el material que están solicitando pertenece al programa "Domingo al día", la nota lo realizo el reportero Libero Belotti, fue emitido el 15 de noviembre del 2015 como exclusivo y tiene una duración de 10 min. 56 segs.

Saludos. "
The Presidental Palace
+ Read More
Peru has reminded me that we take many things for granted. Important things like fresh air, clean water, nutritious food and good education. Access to health care, cutting edge drugs and technologically advanced procedures are not as appreciated as they should be. Many have none.
I have visited many schools in this country. Most had sparse furnishings, little or no books, shortage of staff and no luxuries like libraries, gymnasiums or art studios. There were no fitness programs, no football teams, chess clubs, yearbook or student council. Lucky schools have soccer fields. Now I can understand why soccer (usually called football) is so popular in many developing countries; you don’t need special equipment, just a relatively flat open area and a ball. I watched some children playing beside their classroom and an image from a film I had seen years ago came to mind. Boys playing soccer in a Kurdish slum, the ball went out of bounds and a brave child went to retrieve it despite passionate pleas to leave it by the others… apparently it was in a minefield. Neither child nor ball returned.
I had witnessed just recently the pleasure that was given when a group of volunteers from Australia, (Reach Out Volunteers) visited a small school high up in the Andes. They passed out colored pencils and fancy pens, toys and toothbrushes, clothing and books. Some of the children sat quietly staring at their rich rewards while others clamored for more, stretching their hands high into the air and waving frantically as they called out. It was like a Christmas that they had never had. A few of the children guarded their booty close to their chests while some, who recognizing that they had received more than others, re-distributed portions of their new found wealth to those who had less.
The teacher gathered some of the books and placed them on an empty shelf, there were tears in her eyes. I turned away and choked back my own. I felt selfish and dirty. I had so much and they had so little. What was their crime to serve a lifetime in poverty? I looked into the eyes of these beautiful children and saw more than hope, they were as proud as kings. They were oblivious to their situation. They sang a song for us in the native language of Quechua. They were only in first grade but they managed to sing in unison and acted out the motions with their hands.
We cheered and clapped then each child stood and presented us with a paper flower that they had made. I looked at my purple crepe paper creation and acknowledged that it was probably made with the last scraps of their art supplies. They were priceless gifts. Compared to the ones we had offered, the ones bought with disposable income, the paper flowers seemed like treasures.

Today is December 28th. Just 3 days since Christmas. I think about my own 9 grandchildren and wonder what gifts they received this year. Did they appreciate them as much as these children did? They’re so privileged yet they are innocently ignorant of their status. They dream of owning sports cars, mansions and racehorses. The children of Misminay dream of owning a herd of sheep, a comfortable bed or plot of land to plant potatoes.
I had time to reflect on these things this morning because I was missing something else we have easy access to, the internet. Unlimited, immediate, communication ability! I admit freely that I’m a junkie! I am an information addict. I always want instant answers to everything. I seek the truth and dig for facts.
Fact: Peru is rich in resources but that wealth is being swallowed up into the bellies of big business and corrupt government. The fertile soil is being contaminated by mining and logging operations. These companies, (Many are Canadian owned) have devastated the landscape leaving nothing but toxic waste and hardship for the people.
We’re all guilty. We buy the products. We demand the products. We stand in line for iPhones and gadgetry. Our appetite gobbles up more than we are entitled to and the people in third and forth world countries are the ones who suffer from hunger as a result. Where they once had plantations for bananas and corn, they now have contaminated sludge. The wood they once burned to cook their food and heat their homes now ships to China to be fabricated into fine furniture. The lands stripped bare and left untended. There are no replanting programs here. No regulations for toxic spills or disposal of hazardous chemicals. Unbeknown to many, we are systematically poisoning and starving these people. Our greed leaves their bellies empty. Our over-consumption causes their death by mercury poisoning. Our lust for gold and precious minerals outweighs any hopes for the future of these children.

This problem isn’t limited to Peru. It’s a universal disease. An epidemic of uncontrolled proportions, a disease called greed which leaves its scar upon many countries: Brazil for trees, Ecuador for minerals, Thailand for shrimp, Malaysia for palm oil, Ghana for precious metals, and Canada for petroleum. Yes, my own country is suffering from this deadly disease. Where once stood pristine forests now sits tailing ponds of poisonous liquid which seeps into the water table and flows into the lands. Our Indigenous people are paying the price for cheap oil; herds of elk, schools of fish and flocks of birds eradicated by the toxins… just so that we can drive our fancy SUVs and heat our humungous houses.
If you feel guilty while reading this, I’m happy. I’ve struck a nerve and made my point. We need to start taking responsibility for our actions. We need to curb our appetite for trinkets and bobbles. Technology is good and I’m not saying that we don’t deserve it, but do you really need to rush out and buy the latest version of that new Smartphone? Do you need a bigger TV? Do you need a new dining room table? Isn’t the old one just fine? Can’t you wait until you absolutely and truly need something? Why are we so driven to consume so much?
Buy, buy, and buy more!
We have been corrupted by the media into thinking that we are entitled to a disposable lifestyle. Plastic is replacing long-lasting items like glass and metal. When we’re done with it, we simply throw it away. It’s just junk. We buy junk everyday. Bottled water, plastic bags, disposable razors… Are they really better than what they are replacing?
I watched in amazement as a shoemaker re-built a pair of running shoes. A pair so easily discarded in North America is made new at the hands of a craftsman here. All the scraps are carefully guarded for use later. An electric kettle gets a new heater coil in minutes, a rip in a backpack sewn in seconds; items that would have been sent to the landfill in privileged communities are regenerated for a second life by the poor.
We have alternatives, we have a choice. Each choice we make affects others. That is the point I want to drive home. We have such an unearned sense of entitlement and at what expense? Do you ever stop to think, who is paying the price? There are over 7 Billion people on this planet yet 80% of its resources are consumed by only 20% of the people.
Photo credit Al Jazeera - 33 Deaths Peru
First Grade Classroom in Misminay Peru
Children in the Andes in Peru
+ Read More
It has been interesting for me to be living and learning in a country that has very recently been exposed to, and therefore minimally unaffected by, the mainstream media exposure the Western World has been subjected to. With the exception of the upperclass elite in the bigger cities, the public maintains a simple lifestyle which revolves around the family and basic day to day survival. On the otherhand, they have been tainted by excessive marketing by some corporations (Coke and Nestle, etc) and as a result drink an excess of colas and sickly sweet carbonated beverages. The children are ¨treated¨ to McDonalds and KFC and vendors on the streets sell sugary snacks that lead to tooth decay since hygene and access to dental care are limited.
Those that have televisions and/or computers have no idea that children require censorship and parental restrictions hence they consume programming which is (In my opinion) completely inappropriate. I watched in horror as an eight year old spent hours viewing Youtube videos of adults playing Shoot to Kill video games... literally from morning until night. He was given preference for access to the computer even though I was trying to use it for research. The parent considered it more important to indulge her child the ¨luxury¨ instead of allowing me business access.
I realized that for the most part, the people of Peru are at least 20 to 30 years behind Americans in media education and awareness. Although unfortunately for most Americans, they know they are watching garbage but continue to do so anyways. (Much the same as knowledge that sugary or salty snacks and fast food are bad for us; most keep eating them despite the facts)

Misinformation and lack of education are huge predictors, for example, I was drinking green tea and my host asked me why I was using diet tea. The package even had a bikini clad torso on it. I told her that green tea was a healthy, antioxident with many useful benefits and that you would need to drink upwards of 10 to 14 cups her day for any sort of dietary affect. She refused to believe that one or 2 cups was indeed healthy and not harmful, and declined to accept my explanations until after I showed her proof from nutritional websites. (However, she still refused the tea when offered)
Almost all of the publicity and advertising in Peru features American (caucasian) models. The stores are full of cheaply made merchandise which mimics or badly copies the culture of the United States. Rozen instead of Frozen... Carz instead of Cars... and crackers called Kraps (Kraft?)
In general there doesn't seem to be much of an "environmental awakening" here. People throw away trash in city parks and on the streets without a thought. Only the upperclass neighbourhoods are clean with proper bins for disposal. (mostly because of fear of fines) The taxis run on propane, liguid gas or diesel but strictly for economic reasons. The wave of awareness hasn't hit the beaches of Peru yet... nor the mountains. In two and half months and over 40 towns and villages I have only seen about a dozen recycling bins. Plastic is quickly being adopted as the new luxury. Global ignorance gives way to marketers with corrupt agendas. While much of Europe and many industrialized countries are scrambling to refuse, reuse, reduce and re-invent, Peru is still in early adoption stages.
It would be nice to reverse that trend before any more damage is done. With a frighteningly fast rise in mining and deforestation (both legal and illegal) and massive dam and pipeline projects underway, it won't be long before this beautiful country becomes a barren wasteland. For the moment many of its citizens remain uninvolved and oblivious to the dangers.
I realize that trying to spread the warning internally is useless. We need to send the message from the outside for it to be heard and adpopted. I have footage of all the problems... I'm now focused on trying to reach for solutions.

I'm open to hearing ideas from all of you. Please comment or message me directly at nonimovie@gmail.com

Also if you'd like to support my film effort you can do so here Peruvian Heartache Documentary
Best to all of you this holiday season and as we head into a new year, wishing you many blessings for 2016!

Alison (Noni) Richards
Implied marketing... diet tea
Unfortunate labelling error
business on the streets
+ Read More
I just arrived back in Lima after having spent the past 7 weeks on location. The first month was spent in the highlands of the Andes where I filmed interviews with the indigenous people who are struggling to maintain their traditions and culture despite countless global influences. No matter who I spoke to, or where I went, money almost always was the main problem. The Incas were a people who celebrated and honored a system of reciprocity and currency is not part of their heritage. Unfortunately they have been forced into an existance where they must participate in our capitalistic system. They now have electricity in their homes but must pay a fee to the government, their children need uniforms for school and they must pay for transportation. Some members of the community are more successful than others and it has created a divide in what was once a tightly knit family. Others live in utter poverty, succumb to alcholism or spend money on giant TV's and sattelite dishes while their children go barefoot and hungry.

Education is the key to alleviating many of these problems but influences like climate change (crops no longer grow because of changes in weather conditions), pollution and contamination from mining or industry, and tourism (explotation) contribute to suffering in complicated and devastating ways. Rampant corruption at all levels of government amplify the effects of disparity and poverty. I am hoping not only to point out the problems in my accounts but also to provide suggestions and implement stategies to alleviate these conditons.

I was relieved to move from the highlands, where I suffered from altitude sickness for most of the time, to the lowlands in the Amazon jungle. Peru is home to 1/4 of the worlds natural forests and I thrived in the lush environment. Fresh air and moisture was an almost instant cure. Unfortunately for many, illegal deforestation and mining have proved otherwise. 9 out of 15 fish in Peru have unsafe mercury levels due to contamination from mining activites. Many of the indigenous farms have been destroyed due to poisoned lands or flooding from operations that have been left to ravage the landscape illegally. The indigenous people have held their ground bravely and battled powerful and greedy forces to try and protect the environment but many have lost their lives due to violence, murder or illness from the toxins.

A modern day version of the wild wild west, guns control the area, the law is painfully absent, children attending schools when safe to do so, families torn apart, livestock destroyed, crops failing and workers robbed while returning to their homes. I wasn't able to film in all the areas because I was scared to death and rightfully wise to keep my distance. Many activists have lost their lives attempting to stand their ground. I wept when we found giant trees butchered and left to rot for morsels of choice wood likely bound for Mexico or the US... I swallowed my tears and held a brave face when sharing a river boat with a family that was fleeing their land... my heart is heavy... Peruvian Heartache is a story that begs to be heard.

Have you invested in Gold in recent years? Chances are someone lost their life trying to protect the rainforest it was stripped from. Do you have a new dining room table? Perhaps the wood was stolen from a national reserve in the forest that is responsible for creating more than 20% of the oxygen in the world.

Please help me to finish this important film. I have excellent profiles of the locals, revealing images of the devastation and alarming information about the secrets being concealed in this country struggling to maintain its culture and traditions. I have nearly exhausted my funds and need to find additional resources for a few more weeks of filming and then post production. Luckily I have been blessed with the generosity of many who have contributed both time and resources to help capture this story, but editing is tedious and expensive. I have a burning desire to get this film to the public as quickly as possible so that we can help save both people and protect the health of the lands.

I can also use your help in spreading the word. I need airmiles for travel (for both me and crew) and any other assistance you can offer. I don't want to beg, but I am! Never have I felt as strongly about shouting a warning to the world as now.

Thanks for your support and well wishes. Can't wait to share this amazing story with you all.

Alison xox
Small school near mining region
Amazonian infant living in danger
old growth tree, butchered & wasted
+ Read More
Read a Previous Update
Be the first to leave a comment on this campaign.

$370 of $7,000 goal

Raised by 4 people in 39 months
Created September 7, 2015
Your share could be bringing in donations. Sign in to track your impact.
We will never post without your permission.
In the future, we'll let you know if your sharing brings in any donations.
We weren't able to connect your Facebook account. Please try again later.
Ra-Ana Gilani
35 months ago

You are so amazing, Ali! Such an inspiration...wish you every success!

39 months ago
Be the first to leave a comment on this campaign.
Use My Email Address
By continuing, you agree with the GoFundMe
terms and privacy policy
There's an issue with this Campaign Organizer's account. Our team has contacted them with the solution! Please ask them to sign in to GoFundMe and check their account. Return to Campaign

Are you ready for the next step?
Even a $5 donation can help!
Donate Now Not now
Connect on Facebook to keep track of how many donations your share brings.
We will never post on Facebook without your permission.