Ines Hinoyosa, Director of Comunidad Viva in Bolivia, has written this letter thanking Rainforest Fund for support and guidance over the past 10 years. The women’s cooperative, Cheque Oitdedie, is a group of women artisans who have grown in strength, capacity, determination and resilience.
The first time we met in a coffee shop in London a bit more than 10 years ago, we spoke about the Ayoreo people and the women’ s organization Cheque Oitedie. During all these years we have forged a close relationship full of challenges and victories.
You might remember that at that time the women of Puesto Paz were confronting a lot of challenges, one of the most important was to find the garabata fiber for the making of their handicrafts. It was a way – the most dignified – to involve the young women and provided an alternative to prostitution.
Today thanks to the Rainforest Fund’s trust and support given to the Comunidad Viva team, to the Puesto Paz community, and to the Cheque Oitedie craft women – the only Ayoreo women cooperative in Bolivia – Cheque Oitedie is a solid cooperative working exclusively on the production of their handicrafts, and prostitution is a fact of the past.
Through a great number of meetings with the craft women related to strengthening the organization, the production, the administrative capacity of raising funds, and the opportunity we had to enter the international market in 2009 – the Santa Fe Folk Art Market – the operational fund managed to raise $12,000, 6 times more than the original fund of $ 2,500, more than 800% from the beginning.
This result would not have been possible without the unconditional support of the Rainforest Fund.
Beyond the great success of Cheque Oitedie, Rainforest Fund supported all the necessary initiatives for the development of the community of Puesto Paz: its territorial and environmental plan, the re-forestation of the communal forest through the planting of native species, the growing of the garabata fino the supply to the sixty families of the community with clean and potable water.
But the most important without any doubt has been the granting of the land rights to the Ayoreo Community. This was an historical moment which will never be forgotten, and for which we will never stop to say ‘thank you’ to you.
Although our societies think of development in terms of economic indicators, it is fundamental as far as we are concerned, to underline the importance of the training process and of the knowledge gained by the whole community along these 10 years, not only on the quantitative level but most important on the qualitative one because this process has strengthened the character and the warriors spirit of the Ayoreo men and women who live in Puesto Paz, making them less vulnerable to exclusion, strengthening their identity and culture, giving them the capacity to decide about their future.
Do you remember that episode when Banks staff wanted to kick out the Cheque Oitedie leader when she went there because they thought that she was begging and not taking some funds from her bank account?
Without any doubt I can go on and fill this page with anecdotes, and success gained all along the trajectory shared by the Cheque Oitedie and the Community with Rainforest Fund, memories which fill our hearts, and make us cry, taking for granted that there are only two words which can express this :
My dearest Franca, from the bottom of our hearts we want to express our deep gratitude for the support and the trust you gave us, and please transmit the same gratitude to TRUDIE and STING.
Our commitment to continue our struggle is the same, and we are faithful that you will always be on our side.
On behalf of Comunidad Viva, Cheque Oiteide and Puesto Paz, I send our salutations.
Director Comunidad Viva