2020 will forever be in our memories as the year of the COVID pandemic. In Peru, an extremely strict lockdown was imposed on March 15th and only partially lifted in the beginning of July. Throughout the year, Chaikuni provided emergency relief to many different indigenous communities to somewhat alleviate the impact of the pandemic. Though significantly reduced due to the difficult context, we also continued the activities from our three core programs, permaculture, intercultural education and human and nature rights. Download our annual report and read about our activities and achievements from 2020.
Letter from the Director
Without a doubt, 2020 was an extraordinary year and most likely unlike anything any of us has experienced before; mandatory confinement within our own walls for several months, large queues for grocery shopping and the banks, pharmacies running out of basic medicine, desperate pleas in WhatsApp groups from friends searching for oxygen tanks for their relatives, curfews, no travel, hardly any social contact, uncertainty, insecurity, and a great deal of (collective) fear exacerbated by largely unscientific contributions in the (social) media.
As young parents, my partner and I also faced challenges with two small boys who were not allowed to leave the house for months, see their friends, or play in the forest. The government in Peru imposed an extremely strict lockdown between March and July. Despite this, Loreto was one of the first and hardest hit by the virus and we lived through a traumatic experience between April and May. The fragile local health care system collapsed and ran out of medical oxygen. There are few in Iquitos who did not lose a colleague, friend, or family member during this time.
Amidst this situation, it was easy to feel helpless and infuriated over all of the government failures and thefts committed for decades in Loreto. In the past 50 years, huge oil royalties and public funds have largely disappeared in the pockets of functionaries rather than being invested in health care and education. Rarely has it been clearer that corruption kills. As if the difficulties caused by the pandemic weren´t enough, Peruvians lived amidst constant political feuds, which peaked in what many observers called a disguised coup d’état, a week of heavy turmoil and protests in the streets, leaving two young protestors dead and bestowing Peru with three different presidents in less than 10 days.
For the Chaikuni Institute, the pandemic also suddenly brought a lot of insecurity. After 8 years of consistent financial support, now for the first time, our sister organization and primary donor, the Temple of the Way of Light, could no longer provide critical monthly donation to cover our operational costs. This posed a serious challenge for the continuation of our work and the very existence of the Chaikuni Institute.
The international solidarity that we received when reaching out to friends, family, and supporters, in addition to the generous funds from our international donors, carried us through these difficult times. Still today, we feel overwhelmed by this wonderful example of reciprocity and are extremely grateful for all your support.
Needless to say, activity-wise, we had to adjust our plans. Much of our focus, time, and resources were shifted towards trying to help people in difficult situations due to the pandemic; indigenous people stranded in the city for months, indigenous students, communities in distant river basins, and our own staff and their families.
This annual report gives you a brief overview of our activities and achievements during this unusual year. While we all lived through difficult times, luckily we were in a position where we were able to help. Challenging times always present a unique opportunity to grow, and perhaps most importantly, teach us humility and remind us what matters most.