Newsletter September 2019
11 September 2019
Dear friends and donors,
Thank you for your continued support of the Tairona Heritage Trust. We’ve had a very active summer and here is an update on our activities.
Firstly, following a brief breakfast meeting with the OGT Cabildo Santos Sauna when he was in London in April I went back to Colombia with Felicity Nock and Falk Parra Witte two of the other Trustees to attend a meeting with OGT, the Kogi Mamas and NGO representatives of other organisations, working in the area on behalf of the Kogi. Our aim was to flesh out an integrated strategy to defend the Sierra which is once again under threat due to an increase in violence from paramilitaries and rapid environmental degradation - problems which the Kogi have constantly been trying to warn us about. (Background to the meeting).
The visit to the Sierra coincided with a follow up meeting arising from the Cross diagnosis in Drôme, southern France last September in which the Trust collaborated with the French NGO Tchendukua. One of the science delegates Patrick Degeorges has been involved with UNESCO and a working party was set up with the aim of establishing a cross-disciplinary coalition (called BRIDGES: Building Resilience in Defense of Global Environments and Societies) to launch projects connecting academic and non-academic authorities that can develop more effective global strategies to combat climate change. The language is cumbersome (I am simplifying it) but the approach is revolutionary and desperately needed. I was honoured to be invited to take part in a BRIDGES workshop at UNESCO headquarters in Paris in June, representing the University of Wales, Trinity St. David supported by the Trust. One of the workshop conclusions was that the Kogi were specified for consideration for a pilot project. I will continue to serve on this working party and represent the University, the Trust and the Kogi in this forum. It would be a wonderful opportunity for the Kogi Mamas to distribute and publicise their message globally and validate it to the outside world if the pilot project is accepted. It would also assist in the defence of the Black Line. More news on this after the follow up meeting in Stockholm in October. (UNESCO project report).
Another project to emerge from the visit to Colombia was support from the Kogi for the THT suggestion of finding a translator and a publisher for their book Shiwakala (currently privately printed in Spanish) which sets out their modern history and describes their relationship to, and work with their land. It would be an important source of information on how indigenous knowledge can assist us in preserving the environment in the wider world, as well as helping to establish the global importance of indigenous care for the Sierra.
It was agreed that selecting a team of trusted Kogi translators was vital in order to take all these projects forward so these individuals needed to be chosen as quickly as possible so the work could be properly costed and there was time to launch an appeal for funding. We will keep you posted about this as it develops.
Finally, we recently met with our Tchendukua colleagues in London to flesh out ways of collaborating more closely on projects of interest to both charities for the benefit of the Kogi. Falk Parra Witte one of our new Trustees has agreed to be the point of contact for sharing information on ideas and developments coming out of both organisations so that we can decide if they are suitable for working on jointly and whether we have the right resources and skill mix to do this.
At THT we have recently increased the number of our Trustees so we have a broader skill base for our activities. We welcome Falk Parra Witte who has worked with the Kogi for many years and is learning their language, Janet Wilson our Volunteer Administrator who was the Production Assistant on Aluna and Petra Gomersall who has worked as a legacy consultant in the charity sector.
We are all deeply appreciative of the vital contribution you make to our work as donors and supporters. In fact, you are the most important part of our operation - without you we would not be able to do our bit to save our natural world.