The villagers named us Soambá: One Common Heart.

Where we teach and celebrate the indigenous way of life

In the Darien rainforest of Panama we offer the space, time, and resources for Emberá and Wounaan people of all ages to learn traditional skills from their elders, exchanging and practicing with each other the time-honored rainforest living techniques. These practices have historically defined much of what it means to be Emberá or Wounaan, and they have been integral to sustaining people in the forest for generations.

Current classes

In February 2018 we are excited to start the first-ever intensive language revitalization course in Emberá for the Emberá. This course is specifically requested by our Advisory Council, and addresses a need that is well known throughout their communities. A tri-lingual indigenous elder has volunteered to relocate to a remote region, far away from her grandchildren, in order to revive her language in villages where it has been lost. She will teach almost half of the entire community, laying the groundwork for ever-increasing Emberá language recovery in the region.

You can ensure the success of this program with a tax-deductible donation. Your generosity will pay for the teacher’s salary, a part-time coordinator, transport costs, and basic materials.

La Profesora de Eberã bed'ea y Wounaan meu, Elsa Carpio.
Our teacher of Eberã bed’ea and Wounaan meu, Elsa Carpio.

Previous classes

In previous years, participants in our practical workshops have honed their skills with each other in making tools, baskets, boats, shelters, and other ways of sourcing and using materials from the rain forest as part of daily life at home. They reconnect with their traditional science and wisdom, bring the community together and share their cultural heritage.

 

The best of both worlds

With an eye towards the future for the next seven generations, all of our programs complement these ancestral practices with workshops given by outside experts on environmentally sustainable infrastructure development. We foster informed community-wide discussion about how best to incorporate newer imported technologies, participate in global economies, and grow in alignment with traditional indigenous world views.