Today is Inti Raymi in Ecuador, Festival of the Sun, summer solstice, the biggest indigenous celebration of the year. It is a time of giving thanks, honoring the abundance of the Earth and the harmony of all creation with communal dance, music, ritual and symbol. Still, in some communities, it can also result in violence as men of rival villages compete to take over the central city square in a show of physical strength.
Peacebuilding en Las Américas (PLA) expanded to Ecuador in 2018. The work reflects PLA´s commitment to support women´s agency, respect indigenous cultures and languages, and strengthen social movements in the region. PLA partners are indigenous women leaders of Jambi Mascari (Searching for Health) in the Andean Highlands who work with the Cotacachi municipality on techniques to avoid violence on Inti Raymi. Jambi Mascari is the women’s branch of a confederation of 41 rural communities, the Union of Peasant and Indigenous Organizations of Cotacachi (UNORCAC).
The women are very committed to addressing community conflicts as well as domestic violence in their villages. In particular, they want to reach youth and women in isolated rural areas who speak only Kichwa.
PLA has sponsored training of the Kichwa women leaders in the Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) in collaboration with the Regional Foundation of Consultation on Human Rights (INREDH). The series of five workshops included Trauma Healing as well as a Spanish pilot of Transforming Domestic Violence. With great joy, eight of the leaders completed the Training for Facilitators on June 9-10. Participants were very proud of the perseverance and dedication demonstrated, even under the pandemics, to achieve their shared goal of becoming facilitators.
The long-held dream of bringing AVP to Kichwa-speaking women will soon become a reality.