Indigenous women and youth in the Bolivian area of Bajo Paraguá use cameras to show their identity and share their life, values and needs through pictures.
It is often hard to hear firsthand stories, especially when there is a language and culture barrier between the voices to be heard and the ones who can listen. It is from this communicative gap that FCBC and Aktion Amazonas made an initiative for communities to express and convey their reality from their own perspective, rather than allowing their story to be told by external individuals.
As part of the CISU-funded project "Conserving Connectivity and Promoting Sustainable Management in the Communities of the TCO Bajo Paraguá", indigenous Chiquitano and Guarasu’we women and youth from four communities within the Municipal Protected Area of Bajo Paraguá in San Ignacio de Velasco were trained in camera use. They engaged in reflections on their identity, socio-environmental pressures, needs and values, and captured them through a series of photographs accompanied by texts.
In the first part of the project, high school students, leaders, and activists exchanged experiences and identified common themes from their environment to express, portray, and reflect through pictures. Led by Eliana Peña, an indigenous member of the Monkox nation, she states: "This process allowed us to learn and reclaim much of our culture and territory, strengthening our identity and leadership".
Later, they were trained in photography techniques and storytelling methods by Claudia Belaunde, the Communication Manager of FCBC. Lastly, the participants crafted nine individual stories and one collective narrative which showcast issues such as the forest fire crisis, the relationship with nature, and the community's needs for electricity, education, and cultural preservation.
The objective is to exhibit the final photographic projects within the communities and present them to decision-makers for analysis and reflection, incorporating the viewpoints of local youth and women. This strengthens governance and promotes inclusive participation concerning the territory and its key decisions.
The project also worked on creating connections among the youth from the four communities of Bajo Paraguá, enhance their leadership skills, and facilitate an exchange of experiences from their perspective.
Local seeds, forest working equipment and local handmade tools to cook are some of the objects that were captured through the pictures and stories shared by the participants of this project.