On Wednesday 25th February 2015, a bi-national Macushi Amerindian delegation of the COBRA team, namely Jacir José de Souza Filho, from Maturuca, Raposa Serra do Sol, Roraima Brazil, and Ryan Benjamin, from Annai, North Rupununni, Guyana, presented and distributed a few hundreds copies of the Portuguese version of the COBRA Handbook: Como encontrar e compartilhar soluções próprias da comunidade. Um Manual Prático.
The event was an opportunity to disseminate the results of Project COBRA in the Brazilian capital Brasilia, as well as to explain its philosophy and methodology, focused on community owned solutions, and best practice recording and sharing within and among Indigenous communities of the Guiana Shield, through participatory video and photography.
Ryan Benjamin opened the presentation by illustrating key concepts and methodologies, as well as conveying an eager live testimony of some of the project experiences he had directly been involved in. A selection of videos produced by COBRA in the Macushi Amerindian regions of Guyana and Brazil were then presented by both Ryan and Jacir.
A public of around 50 was present, representing a wide range of institutions, ranging from Universities like the National Brasilia University (UNB) to the Federal University of Bahia (UFBA), research institutions like the Brazilian Agricultural Research Enterprise (EMBRAPA) and Amazonian Environment Research Institute (IPAM), international and Brazilian government agencies, like the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the National Indian’s Foundation (FUNAI), the Chico Mendes Biodiversity Conservation Institute (ICMBio) and Social Development Ministry (MDS), social-environment engaged NGOs, like the Instituto Socioambiental (ISA), the Society, Population & Nature Institute (ISPN) and Brazilian Education Institute (IEB), and (last but not least) a couple of outstanding Brazilian Indigenous organizations, like the Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB) and Coordination of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin (COIAB).
Following the handbook presentation and videos exhibition, the floor was opened for questions and then a cocktail was served, while several members of the public approached Jacir and Ryan for further discussions and spent some additional time enquiring into more detailed aspects of the Handbook, videos and Indigenous communities’ reality in the Guiana Shield.
Representatives of FUNAI present at the Handbook launch enquired whether some handbook copies could be made available to other departments of their institution and suggesting that an additional distribution was made to their institution. The suggestion was warmly welcomed by the COBRA staff present: on the following day copies of the Handbook were personally distributed by Jacir and Ryan to the heads of most FUNAI departments at their Brasilia headquarters, and some additional 50 copies were left available at FUNAI’s library. Following up a similar request by ISA and IEB representatives, some 50 additional copies of the handbook were also left at ISA premises in Brasilia, to be shared not only with two other important NGOs engaged with Indigenous peoples all over Brazil, IEB and CTI (Centre for Pro-Indigenous Work) who have their Brasilia premises in the same building, but also with other relevant partners.
And finally, last but not least, this was a first, precious and unique opportunity for two Macushi Indians from the Guiana Shield (Jacir and Ryan) to get to know Brazil’s capital: Brasilia! One of the highlights of the tour: the Indigenous People’s Memorial.
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