The name of the Chaikuni Institute has its origin in the tradition of the Shipibo-Conibo indigenous peoples. We honor indigenous traditions and promote mechanisms to revitalize indigenous cultures, worldviews, and territories in the Peruvian Amazon.
Meet the team behind the daily work of the Chaikuni Institute.
Stefan holds an MSc in International Environmental Studies from the University of Ås (Noragric), Norway, and has been working for more than a decade in civil society organizations both internationally (Rainforest Foundation Norway) and locally (Arkana Alliance, the Chaikuni Institute), coordinating programs related to topics such as indigenous peoples’ rights and conservation, intercultural education, and the use and sustainable management of tropical forests.
Daniel López Pérez
Born in Granada, Spain, and graduated with a degree in Environmental Science, he has lived in the Peruvian Amazon since 2006, working on various sustainable local development projects in indigenous communities. In 2018, he joined Chaikuni as coordinator of the Intercultural Education program, Sui Sui Program. Currently, he leads the design and implementation of projects of our three programs.
Paula Cristina Layango Tuesta
"Giving a hand to nature is highly valuable and costs very little"
Originally from Iquitos, Paula has a degree in Business Administration, graduated from the Scientific University of Peru (UCP). From the beginning of her career, she focused on supporting projects related to the conservation and protection of the Amazonian environment; also, to encourage indigenous communities to achieve the objectives set jointly, with the projects of institutions that strive to offer them a better quality of life and opportunities for themselves and their communities.
Karina Ormeño Gutiérrez
Communicator of the University of Lima and Educator of the Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Perú (PUCP), with studies in Design and Management of Social Projects, and Interculturality and Amazonian Indigenous Peoples. Karina has experience in sustainability, communications and education in rural communities, and has been living in the Amazon for 3 years, which has allowed her to deepen her interest in indigenous peoples and the Amazon.
Almendra Ivette Aguilar Aguirre
Indigenous Students Monitor
"Education is undoubtedly a powerful weapon for creating subjects, and as such, we have to use it to create intercultural people, respectful of diversity and difference and, above all, criticism and reflection in the face of the inequalities that govern us. In addition to the power of youth, they are the great pillars for change that each of our societies and, in general, our world needs."
Anthropologist of the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru (PUCP in Spanish), Almendra was born in Lima but has lived in Iquitos since 2019 due to his interests and knowledge related to the Amazonian indigenous population, especially in the higher and intercultural educational field. This led her to the opportunity to join Chaikuni's team as Student Monitor of the Intercultural Education program "Sui Sui" in 2020. Currently, she is pursuing a diploma in "Interculturality and Amazonian Indigenous Peoples" from the Antonio Ruiz de Montoya University (UARM) that will allow her to continue to deepen her knowledge of the indigenous problems.
Silvia del Aguila Reyna
Permaculture and Community Outreach Coordinator
Silvia is a forestry engineer trained at the National University of the Peruvian Amazon (UNAP) and holds a Master’s degree in aquatic resources with specialization in Aquaculture from the National University of San Marcos. She has worked on various projects with NGOs as well as state organizations (INRENA, IIAP, Latitud Sur), with a special focus on the management and conservation of biodiversity in the Nanay River basin, working with local communities on reforestation projects and chacras integrales.
Coordinator of the Permaculture Center
Environmental Project Manager and Architect with 10 years of experience directing and supporting organizations such as TECHO, Construye Identidad, Conservamos por Naturaleza, Albergues Naturales, Machaqmara Center for the Arts, Tierra Langla and Salvaje Perú. Happy human, photographer and apprentice of life.
Volunteer Program Coordinator
Entrepreneur in the development of natural and edible gardens between 2015 and 2016. He was President of an association that promotes permaculture and sustainable lifestyle 2015-2016. PDC (Permaculture Design Course) student in 2015 at the French farm “Bec Hellouin” and in 2021 at the “Madre Selva” eco-center with the Na'lu'um Institute. Participant of the advanced course of Permaculture design with Tierra Martinez 2020-2021. 2 and a half years of experience as a volunteer in various projects around the world. After spending a year as an apprentice with Tierra Martínez in Argentina, Yann worked in a reforestation project in the Amazon that led him to be a Chaikuni volunteer for a period of 6 months. "Now I have joined the amazing team at Chaikuni, where I coordinate our educational program and I am also caring for the volunteers with a mission to empower them to live regeneratively."
Born in Holland. She studied photography at the School of Fine Arts in Belgium and has also lived in Norway and Portugal. She arrived in Chaikuni in January 2022 motivated by the experience of getting to know the Amazon and learning to live sustainably. Currently, as a resident, Mirjam leads the natural store project and enjoys researching to innovate and develop new products. She is happy to live in the Amazon and to have found a family and a home in the permaculture center.
Teresa López Cahuaza
She was born in Iquitos and spent most of her youth in Lima working and studying. She has studies in education and cooking, and also experience preparing different types of food. For many years, she worked at The Temple of the Way of Light and since 2021 she is part of the Chaikuni team. With her knowledge and experience, she contributes a lot to the growth of the natural products store.
Alfredo Asipali Gutierrez
Born in Iquitos, Alfredo lives in the rural community of Tres Unidos. He joined the permaculture team in 2015, providing his prior knowledge as a farmer but also learning through the Institute's training and taking this knowledge to other neighbouring communities. Alfredo has his own farm and is applying the permaculture knowledge that he has been learning with Chaikuni. In addition to the edible and ornamental plants and timber trees that he grows on his farm, Alfredo is dedicated to raising sheep.
Eder Baneo Pérez
"We must not destroy the forest because it is the lung of the world"
Eder was born in Iquitos and lives in the rural community of Tres Unidos. Eder has worked in different companies until joining the Chaikuni Institute in 2018. Eder learned agriculture through the experience and knowledge of her father and mother and combines this knowledge with what he has learned with Chaikuni. Eder grows medicinal plants such as ayahuasca and chacruna on his chacra, and one day he would like to be a mechanic.
Juan Asipali Abreú
Juan is native of Tres Unidos, where he also currently lives. Juan joined the Chaikuni team in 2021 and feels it has been a very enriching experience. He likes permaculture because it helps preserve the forest and wants to continue learning more about it. In the future he would also like to study mechanics.
Jorge Guzmán Tamani
Jorge lives in Tres Unidos. He has been working at Chaikuni since 2021. One of the things he enjoys most is sharing with the team, learning from them, and feeling that they are part of a family. In the future he would like to dedicate himself to horticulture on his farm and continue learning about beekeeping.
Borjita Capinoa Rodríguez
Borjita is from Iquitos and is our administrative assistant. She has studied Administrative Informatics at the Senati Institute in Iquitos. She lives in the community of Tres Unidos and loves to be surrounded by nature.
Dander del Aguila
Dander is from the neighbor community of San Pedro, about 40min away from Chaikuni Center. He has spent most of his life working on the fields in his community and is now applying this knowledge at his job. What Dander likes the most about his work is to go harvesting and he especially loves when this includes papaya, his favorite fruit.
René Padilla Ruiz
René comes from Pantoja, a community at the border of Ecuador and lives in Tres Unidos. His experience on the fields comes from working in his own community. He has been a part of the Chaikuni field staff since April of 2023. When René is not working he likes to spend his time playing sports, especially soccer.
Ronaldo is native of Tangarana, located at the Marañón basin and is part of the Kukama indigenous people. He came to Chaikuni Center as an intern and due to his skills, is part of the official team since 2022. Ronaldo also has studied Tourism and wants to apply what he knows in our center.
In February 2007, following a life-changing vision, Matthew established the Temple of the Way of Light - a pioneering Amazonian healing center with a key focus on respecting indigenous healing traditions and reciprocity with the Amazonian people and their environment. He founded Alianza Arkana in 2011, a non-profit partnering with indigenous people to support the preservation of their environment, rights, and traditions. In 2012, he founded the Chaikuni Institute, a non-profit focusing on permaculture, regenerative agriculture, and community based eco-social enterprise. Matthew has spent the last thirteen years in the Amazon and has a deep understanding of social and environmental issues in Peru as well as the complexities present in the blending of Western culture with traditional indigenous ways of life in the rainforest.
Senior Communications Advisor
With a passion for communicating with and about indigenous people and their issues, Zimbabwean-born and Africa-raised Debbie has been contributing her expertise to Chaikuni since its foundation. She initially worked for a number of years as the videographer for Alianza Arkana travelling extensively in Peru to document their work with indigenous people involving land and people rights, waste management, youth empowerment and education projects. She then transitioned into her current role as General Manager at Chaikuni’s sister organization The Temple of the Way of Light. Since then, she produced the feature documentary “Pastaza” for Chaikuni. Debbie brings great value through her experience in communications, fundraising and project design.