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Join Well Aware and JB Journeys for a unique opportunity , combining meaningful work in rural Kenya with a Safari
Experience Kenya's wildlife & her people on an exclusive philanthropy safari. Well Aware, and travel partner JB Journeys, invite you to witness history in Kenya, as you observe the drilling of well #4 in Ithanga Hills, celebrate a clean water source for the villagers, & partake in a spectacular Safari.
- 4 days volunteering for Watoto Wa Barake, a grassroots organization assisting needy children. Volunteer opportunities here include childcare assistance, teaching & education, HIV/AIDS prevention training, sustainable agriculture & youth sports.
- Witness life-changing water erupting from Well Aware's new well borehole at Ithanga Hills, & participate in the ensuing community celebration
- 6 night safari beginning with boutique lodging at Tassia Lodge between the Laikipia Plateau & the Northern Frontier District. The Mokogodo Maasai coexist with ranchers & a thriving and diverse population of wildlife.
- Your safari concludes in the Maasai Mara in the tented camp of either the Mara Safari Club or Kitchwa Tembo Camp. The jewel in Africa's crown, Maasai Mara is host to the most spectacular array of wildlife. The annual wildebeest migration traditionally is present in the Mara this month, with one of nature's finest dramas unfolding before your very eyes at every turn.
August 8 - 22, 2011
$5729 per person, double occupancy, based on 11 participants
$6339 per person, double occupancy, based on 5 participants
Prices include a $500 donation to Well Aware
Deposits are accepted through March 2011
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Background and Lifestyle
Tribes living in the Chocó province of Columbia, emigrated north in the late 18th century. The territory they settled was later incorporated into Panamá, as the Darien Province. Two groups comprised the settlements, the Emberá and the Wounaan, both rainforest dwelling people with similar culture yet completely different languages.
In the 1960’s – 70’s a group of Emberá from the Darien decided to move closer to Panamá City, for easier access to medical facilities and to increase their exposure to tourists. These first groups established their villages on the upper Chagres River, now absorbed by the Chagres National Park. The focus of this article is the tribe living in Emberá Puru, or village of San Juan. This tribe moved to their current location in 2001, to a tributary of the Chagres closer still to Panamá City. Currently 106 souls of Emberá Puru live in traditional housing on the banks of the Rio San Juan de Pequeni. To reach the village from Panamá City requires 1 hour drive to the boat ramp on Lago Alajuela or Madden Lake, and then from 45 minutes to 2+ hours across the lake and up the river by motorized dugout canoe. The variance in boat time depends on the level of the river. In the end of the dry season, April, it can be very low and hard to get up the river, lots of pushing the canoe at times.
Here in the jungle the Emberá continue many of their traditions and culture, while incorporating aspects of the modern world. They utilize wild medicinal plants and shamanic practices in order to cure some disease. Yet, they will patronize the medical facilities of Panamá City when needed. The women continue to wear colorful skirts, and the men loin cloths and they decorate their skin with henna-like tattoos to repel insects, for special occasions and for tourists. However often people prefer to wear westernized clothing when working and relaxing in the village (and in the absence of tourists). They are a culture dependent upon the river for the majority of their food, and use the river as a conduit to trade and sell foodstuff. Each family has a plot of land for farming of rice, yucca, corn, plantains and beans. Their language is also called Emberá; it is only a spoken language, passed from generation to generation. They produce intricate handcraft work. The boys start at the age of eight carving wood, farming and hunting. The women weave baskets and take care of the house.
Some of the young people are caught in a conundrum of wanting modern amenities the city offers, yet indecisive whether to leave their village for the squalid foreign conditions of the city. Today, the majority of Emberá families that have immigrated to Panamá City are concentrated in Panamá City's poorest slums. Discrimination is common, and the city dwelling Emberá have difficulty finding work.
Emberá baskets are some of the finest in the world. The weaving material is a palm leaf fiber from the Chunga palm. The center of the Chunga palm leaf is dried and split, then bleached with a type of cane plant that is found in the forest. The other colors all come from natural plant dyes, from seeds, roots, cocobolo wood shavings, black earth, fruits, flowers and leaves. Another, stiffer type of palm called Naguala is used for the inside of the basket, the bones as it were, to weave around to give it strength and form.
The sizes, shapes and designs of baskets all vary among artists and there is no set pattern or shape. They range in size from 1" to 2' tall and wide. The very traditional cultural baskets are black and white with geometrical designs, but with the tourist trade, the tribe now makes very colorful designs with animals and plants that are in the jungle around them.
Small pieces can take 5-10 days to weave, but others can take weeks, months or even years depending on the size, tightness of stitching, and evenness of the pattern. The Emberá Puru’s current pricing structure is $1.00/day to weave the basket. The money from basket sales goes directly to the weaver.
Men produce intricate carvings from the tagua nut, and from cocobolo wood. Tagua nuts are dried seeds from the Tagua Palm tree. When the nuts are harvested and dried they form an extremely hard material. After being carved by artisans, the finished work very much resembles ivory. top
The village-dwelling people of Emberá Puru rely on the sales of the craft work and participation in the tourism industry for their only source of income. This requires a pooling of efforts to market themselves and their crafts. Erito Barrigonis in charge of tourism and has a cell phone he uses to schedule the village business. Anne Gordon, an accomplished gringa, married into the village. Her background is in biology and animal psychology behavior and long time veteran of the animal actor industry. It was in this capacity, working on a movie set with some members of Emberá Puru, that she met her husband. Now, Anne and Otniel serve as ambassadors, escorting tourists to the village and marketing the villagers' handiwork.
Here is what she says about her work: I am married to an Emberá man from the village of San Juan or Emberá Puru. We split our time between the village and a place near Panamá city. I like to help support the family and village by bringing tourists out, I also go with the Emberá people when they go to the cruise ship ports to sell their crafts. They do not speak English well so I help to translate and explain to the cruisers who these people are and how they live in order to give them an understanding and appreciation for their art. I also try to extend the market of the people by carrying as much crafts as I can when I come to the US to visit or work. I am also leading tours for 2-3 nights out there with the emphasis on "living in Community" mainly to stay and live among the tribe and to experience living in true community and to really get to know and participate in the daily life of these incredibly warm and lovely people.
Visit Embera Puru
The artisans and musicians, dressed in traditional garb, take their crafts to display for the tourists disembarking at the cruise ship port near Colon. For many tourists, this is their only glimpse of the Emberá. A much richer experience is to visit the village for a day or more. Tourism money for trips to the village goes to the community, and is divided amongst the members.
The trip begins with a scenic motorized dugout canoe ride up the Rio San Juan de Pequeni. Once at the village, visitors are embraced with open arms and wide smiles. Here is an excerpt from Anne Gordon describing a tour to Emberá Puru: We will spend several days living with these people, bathing in the river with them, eating and playing with them. They speak both Emberá and Spanish, but language differences will not limit your experience as it will be a heart to heart connection with the people of the tribe. You will see their cultural dances and hear their music; we will go on a jungle walk to show you the medicinal plants they use in healing. I have been guiding folks out to the village for a year, and I never fail to see a huge softening of the faces of the people who spend even a few hours in the village.
Sleep in the open and walk in the moon shadow at night. Wake up to the sunrise and jungle birds and roosters crowing and the stirring of the villagers preparing for the day.
Help support the traditional lifestyle of one of the earth’s remaining village communities. Purchase of handicrafts, basket weaving classes and tours to Emberá Puru may be arranged by Panamá Boutique™.
Daisy Aulestia de Navarro has been crafting fine clothing for over 40 years. Much of her focus is on the creation of stylish outfits and accessories that incorporate traditional and modern molas. She purchases mola remnants from the Kuna for embellishment, as well as stitching her own designs, onto her hand-made clothing. The resulting garments and accessories are exquisitely finished, unique, and literally a wearable work of art.
Daisy and her husband Plinio Navarro operate their boutique, Modas Daisy, in a 300+ year old neighborhood of Panamá City. The neighborhood, called Casco Viejo, has the feel of a Latin old-quarter with charming buildings in various stages of ruin and restoration. Alley cats, “gatos del barrio” thrive here, and Mr. Navarro has been dubbed their benefactor. You can visit the Navarros and Modas Daisy near the French Embassy in Casco Viejo.
The San Blas Islands (Kuna Yala) are home to the Kuna people. The traditional costume of a Kuna woman consists of a patterned blue cotton wrapped skirt, red and yellow headscarf, arm and leg beads, gold nose rings and earrings, and the many layered and finely sewn mola panel blouse.
Many hours of careful sewing are required to create a fine mola. The ability to make an outstanding mola is a source of status among Kuna women.
The quality of a mola is determined by such factors as number of layers fineness of stitching evenness and width of cutouts addition of details such as zigzag borders, lattice-work or embroidery general artistic merit of the design and color combination.
When Kuna women tire of a particular blouse, they disassemble it and sell the molas to collectors.Molas are very sturdy and well sewn. They have already been washed many times and can be safely hand washed in warm water. top
Excerpted from Panamáinfo.com