August 7th, 2017
Dear Members of the Board of Rainforest Fund,
I wanted to take this opportunity to share some of the recent results of our work with indigenous communities in the Brazilian Amazon and take the opportunity to thank you and everyone on the board of the Rainforest Fund, its chair Dr. Franca Sciuto and its staff for their commitment to strengthening indigenous communities and their rights around the world.
On the 11th of July in Sao Paulo at the Google Brazil offices, 3 indigenous communities together with a Traditional Maroon community were able to present their own stories to the world using the new Google Earth platform. As part of the newly launched Google Earth campaign “I am Amazon” young leaders of the Surui, Tembe and Cinta Larga communities used the latest technologies to tell the stories of the culture, lands and communities to the world. We wanted to invite you to get to know these stories on the Google Earth Explorer feature: g.co/EuSouAmazonia. The stories include the risk map the Tembe made with support of RF, the very first indigenous story in their own language from the Cinta Larga and the story of the Quilombola afro-descendants who became allies of the Wai Wai tribe.
Rainforest Fund has been vital in making this a reality through its long-term support of tribes like the Surui who have been the pioneers in using technology to help tell their story. RF has also supported the Tembe to grow from a tribe which had been battered down by illegal loggers and forgotten by the state and organizations to one of the most eloquent and active indigenous tribes in the state of Para. Together with the Cinta Larga who are following in the Surui footsteps, these three indigenous tribes and their allies were able to speak directly to the world without any intermediaries.
The moment could not have come at a more critical point in time. The current Brazilian government is rolling back long-standing protections for indigenous and other traditional communities while increasing the pressures on their lands from agriculture, logging and infrastructure projects. Indigenous voices need every possible venue to be heard and to demonstrate what is being put at risk.
It is thanks to the strong support by Rainforest Fund for strengthening Indigenous organizations, their capacity to protect and manage their lands and to represent themselves that this initiative was possible. The objective now is to help bring tools like this to indigenous communities and other traditional communities around the word.
Rainforest Fund support has continued to change the lives of these communities through its strong commitment, close relationships and willingness to listen and work closely with these communities. All of these qualities are united within Rainforest Fund, its board chair Dr. Franca Sciuto, other board members, staff and partners. We continue to be extremely grateful to the members of Rainforest Fund for your willingness to stay with this proven strategy of strengthening indigenous communities around the world.
Our very best wishes to everyone at the Rainforest Fund.
Vasco M. van Roosmalen, M.Sc.
Equipe de Conservação da Amazônia – Ecam
Brasilia – Brazil