TRAVEL | Indigenous life in Powakka & Pierrekondre8.9.12
Awake at 04h00 and dying to go back to sleep. Instead, my trip from Brokopondo (Klaaskreek) is a lengthy one, with conversation spanning the entire hour-long drive, and darkness refusing the greet the new day. I was dropped off at the Chinese supermarket (most supermarkets in this South American country are run by the Chinese population). I meet Deborah and her son, Jamil, and her little brother. She and her husband, Shanna, are my hosts in Powakka--a young couple with a young child. We have a breakfast of sweet tea and peanut butter, whilst I ask her questions about biodiversity and how she uses them. She takes me outside "let me show you" she says as she leads me to what looks like bushes and weeds and points out the naturally growing plants--sibiwriri & neem--that she uses for headaches, pains, and a host of other ailments. Already, I am pleased by her knowledge. I smile to myself, in anticipation for what else can be garnered as the day progresses.
My day starts off with a trip across the river via pontoon to Pierrekondre—an indigenous village home to the infamous Mrs Vreedzaam. I meet her picking up plastic, tins and glass bottles to be recycled or disposed of correctly. She is a bashya--a leader in the village--who displayed this commitment as she waved a young mother and her child down to remind her that they must wear helmets. She is also a key member of De Vereniging van Inheemse Dorpshoofen in Suriname (VIDS), an organisation that advocates the rights of Indigenous people in Suriname. We chat whilst we pick up the rubbish together, and continue on for some five more hours, over a lunch of sardines and rice, about climate change, her participation in Rio +20, sustainable development and Indigenous rights—a topic I am very familiar with after living in an Amerindian (Indigenous) community for two years in the Amazon. It was eye-opening, and all-inspiring.
Deborah picks me up to head back over the river, to meet with her family. I speak with Deborah and her mother about changes they experienced to the farm, their way of life, and the access women and men had to resources. All in the name of my UN work on gender mainstreaming and biodiversity. They revealed alot. We sit and eat pingo (pig), with yellow lentils and rice under the roof of her parents' communal hut made from dried palm leaves.
Night creeps in, and the darkness comes over Powakka once again. Shanna, Deborah and I decide to stay up chatting for hours, with the help of a battery operated lantern to keep our shadows in check. We talk about life, development, and their future (and even mine). There is so much to garner from our conversations, and from their warmth that I dread my departure the next day. I sleep like a baby, only to wake up knowing that I will miss these kind people who took me in, and entertained my questions about a reality that is somewhat not my own.
ALL THE CLOTHES STACY H. IS WEARING COMES FROM PEOPLE TREE (They have good clothes for fieldwork in this sort of environment). Purple and White Pangyi worn as scarf and skirt was given to her as a gift in Klaaskreek