The Llikchary Institute
We are a non-profit founded in 2014. We work with the Indigenous Kichwa community of Sani Isla, on the Napo river in the Amazon basin of Ecuador. The population is approximately 600. Their land is over 37,000 hectares located in the Yasuni National Park and partially in the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve. Our mission is to support Sani Isla in achieving sustainable development and a dignified life through education, international exchange, appreciation of culture, and facilitating community projects. The Sani Isla community aims to incorporate the benefits of the 21st century while preserving their heritage, culture and natural environment. We believe that an open, creative exchange of knowledge, ideas, and resources, in a context of mutual respect, will assist the community in that goal. We are creating a vibrant space for the exchange of expertise between community members and visitors. Recently we have also become a natural conduit for emergency aid.
The Llikchary Institute is the brainchild of community member Danny Gualinga. His vision was to create an educational and cultural exchange center that offers classes both to community members and to visitors from the outside. We founded the Llikchary Institute with American and European allies and have since completed the construction of the Llikchary center as well as visitor cabins. Before the pandemic hit, the center held classes (particularly to youth in the community) as well as hosted tourist packages to national and international visitors. We are planning classes taught by community members on subjects like traditional culture and crafts, the rainforest ecosystem, traditional medicine and language instruction in Kichwa. Visiting teachers can offer topics such as biology, health, English, and sustainable development. We are also particularly concerned with Sani youth. There is no high school in the community. Only a minority of youth manage to attend outside of the community. We aim to change that. Danny also feels it is very important to “immunize” youth as much as possible against the dangers that the outside world uniquely poses to indigenous people through programs he has developed.
Currently the community is still struggling to cope with the profound set-back from tragedies these past two years. Water had to be brought in by boat from Coca due to the second major oil spill in two years. So we are working to facilitate the installation of rain catchment and filtering systems to provide fresh water to every household. Families have been hungry as well. The pandemic eliminated outside jobs as well as all community income from visitors. As a result, Llikchary has recently been providing emergency supplies to community members. This need is still urgent and the aid available has been far from sufficient to meet current needs, let alone to rebuild depleted community resources.