In December 2014 Uwe Derksen, head of the Enterprise Team at UCA, visited the Amazon in Brazil, invited by the Yawanawa tribe, whose member Nixiwaka (also known as Joel) works for Survival International, the movement for tribal peoples and has been involved in the Creative Challenge for the last couple of years.
The aim of the visit was to seek information and answers to a range of questions, which could be shared with UCA students. There was also the possibility of developing the project further, depending on the outcome.
The Yawanawá tribe people are one of many indigenous people of Brazil. They, that are a few hundred of Yawanawá people, live in small villages or settlements along the narrow Gregorio river. In order to reach the various Yawanawá villages it is necessary to travel from Tarauacá by truck on the BR-364 for 1.5 hours to the river Gregorio where at the Ponte Sobre there is an access point to the river with a number of small commercial outlets. From there using a small narrow light-weight aluminum canoe boat with an air-cooled long-tail outboard motor it takes about 4-5 hours to reach the first Yawanawá village and another 4-5 hours to reach the last settlement, which is about 80 km away. The Gregorio river is relatively narrow, depending on water levels and extremely windy whilst littered with tree branches and stumps. The river has become more hazardous due to a major recent flooding (November 2014), bringing down riverside trees as well as destroying some houses and equipment of indigenous and non-indigenous people living alongside the river. The flood apparently was the worst ever and illegal tree logging is being blamed as one of the causes.
I experienced the people them as welcoming, warm and friendly, hard working and giving, humorous and helpful, trusting. My deep respect and thanks go to all those people (Yawanawá and others) who opened their doors to me as a stranger in their home. It was privileged to be among them, albeit briefly.
Uwe has written some blog entries about his experiences at http://mistakesandcontradictions.blogspot.co.uk.