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SolidariLabs: A living dream that weaves together our humanity

By Jorge Agurto. Jorge is the Founding Director of Servindi, an independent daily news site covering the activities of native peoples and their organizations, advocating for their campaigns, and broadcasting their demands. They also train indigenous journalists. Jorge’s article was originally published in Servindi.


Photo: SolidariLabs/Skylight

The SolidariLabs week in Peru was a profoundly transformative experience that recharged energies from our deepest ancestral roots in order to move forward united, actively building a better future with faith and energy.

A few weeks shy of my 60th birthday, I’m unlikely to have new experiences that surprise and move me deeply.  But that’s exactly what SolidariLabs Peru achieved in the Urubamba paradise, in Cusco.

Photo: Skylight/SolidariLabs

Photo: Skylight/SolidariLabs

The schedule we received didn’t detail the usual activities but rather suggested topics that left us wondering.

Perhaps this was the best way to open ourselves up to new experiences in all senses and lessen our conceptual barriers or rational prejudices: the essence is that it was an event to rediscover and strengthen our bonds of humanity.

The space built emphasized the experiential and spiritual aspect, in weaving senses and relationships, in discovering, rediscovering and strengthening our deepest humanity. To achieve this, the emotional aspect was awakened in intensity and power.

There were several moments that moved us to tears. Because we were not only present as individuals; we were accompanied by our roots, our grandfathers and grandmothers, our parents and all the people we love, some of whom we may have recently lost physically.

The SolidariLabs team – composed of Peruvians, Mexicans, Colombians and Guatemalans – selected 24 candidates from among 250 applicants. It must not have been an easy task to select and I am sure that many valuable prospects were left out of this first experience in Peru.

What shone through is that each participant is a source and treasure of humanity and perspective. Each one drives democratic, innovative initiatives, committed to justice and social change.

Yanaire Medrano. Photo: SolidariLabs/ Skylight

For example, I was very pleased to meet Yanaire Medrano Bustamante, a young Afro-Peruvian woman who works in the practice and rescue of cultural heritage, and to show the faces of identity with audiovisuals made by children and young people from San José, in Chincha. Yanaire surprised the audience with an enormous donkey jawbone, an Afro-Peruvian musical instrument, which she played to the delight of those present. When it was time to say goodbye and thank you, Yanaire performed a traditional zapateo.

I was pleased to have met Verónica Ferrari. Vero Ferrari is a committed human rights activist and runs the self-managed Miguelina Acosta Library in Cercado de Lima, especially for children and adolescents.

The library’s name pays homage to a writer and collaborator who in the 1920s-1930s supplied information to the amauta José Carlos Mariátegui la Chira, especially on Amazonian issues.

On my way back, it was interesting to talk at the airport with Berenice Adrianzén, with whom I did not share so much at the event, but who in just a few minutes let me know about the magnificent project of her organization Sontrac.

Berenice recently began a series of presentations in six cities of the country with two documentaries on the history of the Peruvian labor movement, a key topic to know the social and political history of Peru.

The event made it possible to move from individual dreams to collective dreams, under the premise that the collective empowers and fulfills personal yearnings or aspirations. Photo: Jorge Agurto / Servindi.

This is just a brief mention of three people who come to my immediate memory, but rest assured that each participant from Ayacucho, Cusco, Callao, Huanuco, Lima, Puno and Trujillo with whom I met generated an extraordinary human experience.
This is also the case of the Afro-descendant actress Alicia Olivares, who organized two webinars as part of the Foro de Mujeres Afro en Escena, a space for artists to meet and reflect on their artistic work.

What shone through was that each participant is a source of knowledge and a treasure trove of humanity and perspectives.  Each one is driving democratic, innovative initiatives committed to justice and social change.

The Skylight Team, deserves a special mention. Led by a mature, committed couple, who share their dreams and are working to make them come true,  Pamela and Paco have discovered a way of working, against the tide, and I believe they enjoy the results.

The team is also made up of documentary filmmakers and facilitators from Colombia, Mexico and Guatemala, countries where national versions of Solidarilabs have been held. Also participating were representatives of SolidariLabs AfroColombia who shared their documentary and other materials from the Guardianas de los Rios project, about the Afro-Colombian population defending the Atrato River in Colombia.

All of them, and the facilitator from Puerto Rico, Gibrán Rivera, who lives in the United States, harmoniously combined their efforts to make us feel good, release our rigidities and personal blockages and immerse us in an essentially liberating experience.

The SolidariLabs week was a profoundly transformative experience – even revolutionary I would say, to recharge energies from our deep ancestral roots and to work together actively building a better world  in a supportive environment.

The participants of SolidariLabs Peru.

Pamela Yates

Pamela Yates is an award-winning film director and the co-founder of Skylight, a not-for-profit media organization that for over 35 years has combined cinematic arts with the quest for justice to inspire the defense of human rights. Skylight’s films and programs strengthen social justice movements and catalyze collaborative networks of artists and activists.

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