From the beginning, a mutual understanding between benefactors and donors was established where San Juan de Yanayacu, one of Muyuna Lodge’s neighbouring towns, were going to be recipients of a community building titled “casa comunal,” through a collaborative initiative amongst stakeholders. Collaboration was embedded in all constructive phases, from early design drafts, to transporting building materials in our days off through and around the Amazon River, to applying the finishing interior touches. Although multiple errors were committed throughout the construction process and having limited funds available for the proposed project, we believe that the collaborative work model made the completion of this building feasible.
After taking more than 5 iterations amongst a retired architect living in San Juan de Yanayacu (Ms. Gemma), a community elected comity (6 highly respected “moradores”), and the Muyuna Foundation team (Luis, Santiago and myself(Koki)), we determined that infrastructural durability, communal presentations, and festivities were elemental in the building’s design. The members of the community elected comity hold traditionally patriarchal bureaucratic responsibilities, as “moradores,” whom include all men over the age of 18 who’ve lived at least 2 years in the community. Their duties include participating in community work, voting on all communal decisions, attending monthly meetings, financing certain costs undertaken by the community, and for the duration of the constructive process, equally part-take in voluntary manual labour that the project calls for.
Nonetheless, most of the locals’ dreams were coming to fruition; a state-of-the-arc traditional Amazonian community house, “casa communal,” was being built in their community. One like no other, which they’ll proudly show-off to all visitors in their upcoming town anniversary.
After 4 months of intense work between the MF team and the “moradores,” of San Juan de Yanayacu, the construction of the “casa comunal” was completed on the eve of June 24th, the day of celebration of San Juan, the largest festivity in the Peruvian Amazon, as well as the 45th anniversary of the community. Joy and excitement was in the air as the town now had their highly anticipated facility, with unique architecture specifically made to serve as the venue for their celebrations.
In the previous week, the community organization was in full swing. Everyone in their roles were preparing for various activities. One group visited and invited neighbouring communities to join the celebrations, others organized a soccer tournament, and some women prepared Chicha (a local traditional drink) for the festivities, among many other activities. MF also participated, along with the Regenerators of Yanayacu, a group of teenagers from SJdY who have been following extracurricular education modules with the support of our members and volunteers. In the recent months, while simultaneously managing and participating in the construction project, efforts were focused on consistently teaching English and environmental education to the Regenerators of Yanayacu.
On Saturday, the 24th, activities kicked off in the morning with the soccer tournament. The SJdY team, in a heroic match, came from behind to defeat Los Chinos Community team by 3-2. Spirits were high. During the development of the other first-round matches (among which the Muyuna team was quickly eliminated), a discussion was held in the SJdY’s “casa comunal” between the Regenerators Group and passengers from Muyuna, with the MF team facilitating communication. The main topic was waste management. The Regenerators had the opportunity to share and exchange knowledge with passengers from the United States, Turkey, Chile and Spain. This space also served to overcome stage fright when speaking in front of an audience. Without a doubt, a valuable experience that we hope to repeat.
The afternoon continued with more goals in the soccer tournament and later at night dancing cumbia in the great party with the neighbouring communities. The participation of various members of the community was crucial in making this day unforgettable and making the “casa comunal” into a source of pride for the community member of San Juan de Yanayacu.