There are many places in the world where Indigenous Peoples do not have access to basic needs and services. In such contexts, even the smallest assistance can make a big difference in the lives of community members. That is the case of Itaparana village in the state of Amazonas in Brazil, during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic when a Keepers of the Earth Fund grant supported Colevtivo Mura’s efforts to build a community house to ensure the basic protection of a safe home for community members during the pandemic.
The situation in the village was already difficult before the pandemic as they had been facing land invasions from outsiders and threats from mining companies. Some community members saw their houses destroyed and many Mura people were being criminalized. To make matters worse, an epidemic of malaria had spread through the village in 2019. When the pandemic started, they were afraid of getting sick because of their proximity to a main road. They expressed that they felt "more and more threatened," and some community members were forced to flee.
To alleviate those problems, the Mura collective decided to realize their dream project -- to build houses far from the road. "Our dream is to build a village away from the road so that we feel safer," they stated in their report to Cultural Survival. They decided to start with a community house that, though inhabited by a family, is for the whole community’s use.
The house was built using natural resources from their forests, some construction materials were bought with the KOEF grant. Most importantly the construction was conducted through collective work. The building is now home to a family who before lived with two other families and had long dreamed of having their own house.
With the support from a grant from Cultural Survival’s Keepers of the Earth Fund, the community building is a first step for creating a new Mura village in a more secure situation away from the road, in a place that reduces contact with outsiders who can cause coronavirus contagion.
Keepers of the Earth Fund (KOEF) is an Indigenous Led Fund designed to support Indigenous Peoples’ community development and advocacy projects. Since 2017, KOEF has supported 119 projects in 31 countries totaling $533,299. KOEF provides small grants to grassroots Indigenous-led communities, organizations, and traditional governments to support their self-determined development projects based on their Indigenous values. Predicated on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Cultural Survival uses a rights-based approach in our grantmaking strategies to support grassroots Indigenous solutions through the equitable distribution of resources to Indigenous communities.