Learn about the International Funders for Indigenous Peoples (IFIP) and my experience attending to their event in Merida, Yucatan.
Author: Ana Rosa.
Leia em Português.
Between February 22 and 24 I was in the Mayan Yucatan peninsula to represent my team and attend IFIP (International Funders for Indigenous Peoples) Shifting Power: Indigenous Peoples’ Rights, Leadership and Self-Determination.
It was my first time in Mexico but I felt at home. I first attributed this feeling to the weather, vegetation, city structure and people’s warmth so similar to what I’m familiar with. But maybe what made me feel so comfortable in Yucatán was the Mayan culture so strongly present, resonating with my own heritage. During these days I felt immersed in the Mayan territory and was very impressed by it. Already in my first hours in Merida I understood “México é terra indígena” (Mexico is indigenous land), a similar message of what is often shared within the Brazilian indigenous movement.
In my first day in Merida I could connect with indigenous leaders from the Americas and see how our similar realities bring us close together and make the space for connections. During the event, I could also connect with indigenous leaders from other regions around the globe. I was happy to see a strong indigenous presence during the event, bringing the perspectives, from indigenous and funders, closer together, which is a challenging mission.
There were multiple talks, activities and presentations of case studies extremely interesting to reflect on, and how to develop funding processes that focus on indigenous leadership and self-determination. It was great to be close to the leaders that have such interesting experiences. There was no need to mention the well-known fact that indigenous communities are the best experts on forest preservation, so the conversations were on how to best provide direct funding to indigenous communities – which resonates so much with our own experience at the Pollinating Regeneration program!
On the last day of the event we had the opportunity to visit three local projects. Here it’s important to mention that I work for an organization, Meli Bees Network, inspired by meliponini, the stingless bees native to all tropical and subtropical regions across the globe. For a long time, I’ve heard about the importance of the native bees (Meliponini) to the Mayan culture. One of the few Mayan codices that survived the conquistadors and Catholic priests, has 14 pages on native bees.
I chose to visit a youth-led project in Xcanchakan, Baktun Pueblo Maya. In previous days of the event I met a youth leader from this project. In our conversations we found our mutual love for the native bees, so she was proud to do an “extra trip” to the local women who brought me to their meliponary! In the other group visits we did, participants also shared that native beekeeping is a core practice in the communities. Wow! It was so exciting to see, closely, how this ancient knowledge resists!
As a young organization, it was particularly important for me to connect with other organizations and understand the importance of what we’re doing with a global perspective. It reminded me how amazing the work indigenous and local communities engaged in our network do to motivate and strengthen each other. I’m sure indigenous communities will guide the regeneration we so desperately need.