Working with Communities:
Conservation and Defense of Ancestral Knowledge
Building new ceremonial maloka for the A'i Community
As a first action, the construction of a maloka is proposed as a basic community infrastructure for the purpose of holding yagé ceremonies. The lack of a common space conducive to carrying out ceremonies in the community has been a limitation for people to attend. Due to the lack of a wide and conducive space, ceremonies currently take place in domestic settings where the possibility of summoning grandparents from different regions to share their knowledge as well as larger members of community has been challenging. As a result, we have been able to provide the community with the necessary materials to construct a spacious maloka where everyone is able to join. This has brought the community together to work on a shared vision and goal.
In 2022, the A'i community made important foundational steps with the constitution of a new non-profit in their country. They decided to call it: AYTA'IK (Asociación Yage Tsampi A'i Kofan); “Tsampi” means jungle. In Ecuador, the A'i community finished writing all of the by-laws and legal documents with support from AWE and a lawyer for the association that we have been building together for the past four years. It was very important for them to incorporate parts of their cosmology, worldview, and internal organization into this "western" legal document. Shortly after that, a commission of them made an important journey to Quito, Ecuador to the Secretary of Management and Development of Peoples and Nationalities-SGYDPN. They were well received and they were able to receive recognition from this government institution. They were promised to receive a visit from them in the community to drink Yagé together.
This is the first maloka we built called “house of thought”. We put our hands together with the Queta family, Taita David, and grandmother Tntn. The maloka, located in Dureno, Ecuador, is ten minutes on boat from the houses of the A’i community, can host up to 25 persons, and is now serving as a spiritual center for the A'i-Cofan village.
Support for the Wirikuta community in building a well
In this project we have been working with the community to fix their old well in order to give portable water to all, and we are also contributing to building a new well for the entire community.
Every year, we support marakames (Huichol shamans) of the Wixaritari community to continue their tradition and fulfill their pilgrimage to the wirikuta desert where they will harvest the peyote that they will take back home to share with the whole community - especially the children and elders who do not have the physical condition to do the pilgrimage in the desert.
New non-profit in Gabon
In 2022, the community of traditional practitioners from Gabon made important foundational steps with the constitution of a new non-profit in their country. They decided to call it: AWE - which in their traditional Nzembi language means: brotherhood and sisterhood. Their non-profit is governed by seventeen leaders and forty-five founding members in total. These founding members are all important spiritual leaders from different areas of Gabon and especially of the Ngounie province. The community held three strong ceremonies to empower the process of constitution of this exciting venture. In these ceremonies, a lot of Iboga was involved and there were conversations with the spirits which was very important for everyone. There will be more ceremonies being held in different areas of the country to finish the spiritual process of constitution and for the people in these remote areas to be informed through ceremony about the new mission.
Conserving the knowledge for the tribe’s future generations
We seek to help young members from the indigenous communities who are really committed yo their tradition in becoming the next generations of Elders. By doing this, we are helping in the conservation of the ancestral knowledge held by these tribes while making sure that this knowledge will be carried in the best hands possible.
We are supporting masculine and feminine initiates from Gabon in finishing their Bwiti stages to graduate as 'Nganga.' They need a good amount of resources for the graduation itself as well as all the years of ceremonies and initiations required, but they will be important pillars for the new generation.
We are also financially supporting rites of passage and basic initiation rituals in Missoku, Mabanji, and Muiri for children, and young women and men, who are becoming adults and are interested in the early stages of the Bwiti.
Recently, AWE also supported with resources and work in rebuilding a Bwiti feminine temple in Gabón. The temple is used for the sacred and secret rites of the Bwiti, including the Iboga initiation.