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Actions and proposals of the Indigenous Peoples of the Sierra Tarahumara to improve their living conditions

comunidades art 005In the 'Sustainable Communities' core area, we are currently developing a project which is a follow-on to the cultural and socio-environmental studies carried out in 2008 and validated with the communities in 2009. This project integrates all aspects which the communities consider to be fundamental; by working on them, we can contribute to the construction of sustainable communities.

The project is financed by the Inter-American Foundation (IAF) and is extremely important to the communities of Choréachi and Coloradas de la Virgen, as their most significant felt needs are incorporated therein. Among other aspects, the project implements actions related to water, health, food security, environment, women, education, housing, and citizen participation.

To date, the activities we have carried out are as follows:

February 2011
We hosted a meeting in which the authorities of the traditional governmental systems of the communities of Choréachi and Coloradas de la Virgen exchanged experiences. Four authorities of the community of Choréachi participated in the meeting, having traveled to Coloradas de la Virgen to share their experiences as well as attend the inauguration of the new authorities in Coloradas de la Virgen.

March 2011
We hosted a double workshop to build rain water-catchment systems ('ferrocisternas,' or metal tankers) in the community of Choréachi, specifically in the settlements (rancherías) of Carneros and Sitánachi. Approximately 100 people participated over a period of a week, which is the length of time it takes to build those systems. The technicians who facilitated this double workshop are members of the Rarámuri indigenous people of the municipality of Bocoyna. In this way we also contributed to an exchange of experiences among the indigenous communities of the Sierra Tarahumara.

May 2011
We provided a workshop on institutional strengthening for the organization Mujeres Indígenas Tepehuanas y Tarahumaras, A.C.[Indigenous Tepehuana and Tarahumara Women, A.C.] (MITYTAC). Approximately 15 women from this organization participated in this workshop and agreements were reached therein to reactivate that organization and promote productive activities for indigenous women in the Sierra Tarahumara.

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May 2011
We provided a workshop on the installation and upkeep of family vegetable gardens and the production of organic fertilizer. Forty-five women and men participated in this event from seven settlements (rancherías) apart from Baborigame. The atmosphere during the workshop was very positive and commitments were made to provide follow-on to this information in the future with other techniques of organic fertilizer such as 'vermicompost' (worm compost, or lombricomposta). Additionally, some of the participants requested support for disseminating the information provided during the workshop in their communities, utilizing the same format as was employed in this workshop. ASMAC committed itself to finding the resources needed for such dissemination.

June 2011
We provided a workshop on the installation and upkeep of family vegetable gardens and the production of organic fertilizer in the Choréachi community's school. More than 80 men, women, and children participated in the workshop. When the work to install the garden was finished, the traditional authorities, particularly the 'Mayora' (a person in charge of the education of the Rarámuri children and youth), spoke with the girls and boys of the community regarding the upkeep they would need to give the garden.

July 2011
We inaugurated the project "Teaching Customs: Cross-Cultural Education for Rarámuri Girls and Boys (Tarahumaras) of Choréachi." Among the first activities carried out was a workshop to reflect on the needs expressed by various groups within the Choréachi population regarding the community's school. We worked with a group of women, one of men, and a third was composed of girls and boys. Each group expressed the elements of Rarámuri culture which should be incorporated into the educational program at the preschool and primary levels. They also discussed what they expected from the school, what they felt the school needed, and how the school could respond to the needs of school-age girls and boys as well as their families.

Lastly, these ideas were expressed in the plenary session. This is a first step to be taken in the Choréachi community's school which should tentatively conclude in December 2011. More than 150 women and men, and more than 50 girls and boys, participated in this workshop.

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