According to the FAO, there are more than 370 million indigenous people in the world, distributed among 90 countries. Even though they only represent 5% of the world’s population, they constitute 15% of the world’s poor.
Vitalino Cuellar is a community healer, or as he prefers to call himself, the “botanist”. This is a vocation he combines with one of the main ethnic activities in cuna tule: banana, cassava and yam farming. He lives in Caimán Nuevo, located very near the frontier with Panama. Vitalino faced a water scarcity problem which required an investment in his drainage system to make use of rain water for his plantation. He acquired the money thanks to the BBVA Microfinance Foundation, who gave him the support he and his town needed to survive at a great distance from the big cities.
“Both cuna men and women work . The women spend time manufacturing handicrafts and us, in agriculture”, shared Vitalino, who is part of more than 2,000 people from the cuna ethnic group living in Colombia, and one of the million plus indigenous people in the country. As children, women learn how to knit cloths (called molas) embroidered with geometric figures or landscapes which are very representative of their customs. They dress themselves with these clothing and they also make bags, wallets as well as pillows to be sold throughout the country. It takes them three days to knit the molas with geometric figures and six days, if it has landscape designs.
“My dream is to live in peace with my children and my family”
The credit officers of Bancamía, the BBVA Microfinance Foundation’s entity in Colombia, reached up to Caimán Nuevo to offer financial services and skills trainings adapted to the community’s productive activities. This was how Vitalino accessed the small credits which help him progress and diversify his business. “My dream is to live in peace with my children and my family. With Bancamía, one can live and be happy”, he assures.
9th of August celebrates the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples
According to the FAO, there are more than 370 million indigenous people in the world, distributed among 90 countries. Even though they only represent 5% of the world’s population, they constitute 15% of the world’s poor. Their poverty and the fear of losing their origins unite all of them, given that neither their roots, history nor traditions don’t have anything in common. Most of them turn their backs on something as basic as electric lighting, just so they would not have to leave their homes and abandon their way of life.
2017 marks the 10th year since the United Nations has adopted the Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous People, the most complete international agreement on this subject. It acknowledges the contribution of these communities to the common heritage of humanity through the richness of their cultures. According to the UN, “the indigenous communities have inherited cultures and practices, and have unique ways of relating with the people and their environment”. In fact, the indigenous communities preserve 80% of the planet’s biodiversity, evidencing that their contribution to environment preservation is key.