Peru is a country of stark differences. Only 20% of adults in Peru have a bank account, and the number falls to 9% among the poorest 40% of earners1. Access to financial systems in indigenous communities is even lower. With some of the lowest average incomes in South America, and little help to register for free healthcare, indigenous rainforest communities take fundraising into their own hands.
If someone gets sick or falls into debt, and the family just can’t afford the bills, many Peruvians rely on organising a Pollada. By buying chicken and beer and charging friends to come over and eat, the embarrassment of needing to ask for money is spared. And underlying it all is the mutual understanding that they would reciprocate if needed.
Despite economic difficulties themselves, communities flock to help those in need. These chicken parties not only attest to the resourceful nature of Peruvians living in poverty, but the importance of community and give and take. This way of fundraising provides multiple benefits in indigenous communities; charity, generosity, sociability, friendship and cooperation in difficult times.
Faena are a long-held tradition in Awajún culture, one of the largest indigenous groups in the Peruvian Amazon. They are public work days where the community leader gathers everyone together to work on a task that will benefit the whole village. Recently, all the dads in a village Cool Earth’s partner community of Urakuza were summoned to spend a day working on restoring the local school’s fish pond.
Profits from the sale of fish locally help to provide much-needed equipment. Built over a year ago, the pond was springing leaks, so it was time to call a faena and take action. With everyone pulling together, progress was quick. Despite having only one wheelbarrow between them, the dads got stuck in, carrying rocks and mud to build up the banks. Grasses were planted to keep the banks sturdy for the future.
Now the fish pond is restored, there’ll be more fish to sell, meaning more cash and plans to plunge the money back into the school. Cool Earth is excited to see a community coming together to provide for the future with such a smart idea.
The global community is in trouble. Too often our lives around the world are seen as separate from other, but our carbon habit has an impact on those we have never met. When it comes to climate change, those who have had the least responsibility will face the severest consequences from severe weather events.
Investing in indigenous and local communities is the most efficient way to protect forests and slow down climate change. And this summer, why not throw a Pollada for the rainforest, or get the dads in your community to chip in some cash for Cool Earth. After all, we’re all in this together.