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Offering quality Kichwa language classes to local children and youth, connecting generations and rescuing the indigenous Kichwa culture

Snapshot

Team: Otavalango Project

Country: Ecuador

City: Otavalo

Start: 05/07/2021

End: 29/07/2022 (exp.)

SDGs: 4, 5, 10, 11

Background

The city of Otavalo, Ecuador, is home to 125 indigenous communities. In the past decades, they have witnessed a decay of indigenous culture, including the culture of the Kichwa people of Otavalo. This decay was manifested in a loss of knowledge about some ancestral ceremonies, disappearance of traditions from the public eyes, disadvantageous position of Kichwa language and traditional clothing. 

The gravest concern arising from this occurrence was the fact that communication between elder and younger generations of Kichwa speakers was constrained, which led to spread of erroneous information about the very fabric of Kichwa-speaking culture, and, in practice, also to the loss of effective participation of the Kichwa people in public and private institutions in Otavalo.

For this very reason, the initiative by young representatives of the Kichwa people in Otavalo focused on the quality teaching of the Kichwa language to children and young people, aspiring further to learning more about and rescuing the Kichwa Otavalo culture. 

To achieve intergenerational indigenous legacy transfer, grandparents from different communities were included in the learning sessions so that they could engage in dialogue with modern children and adolescents. The key partner to the project, the Otavalango Living Museum has become a school of the Otavalo culture, where the grandparents are sage teachers, and their grandchildren are the diligent students of invaluable indigenous knowledge of Otavalo.

The SDG that I liked the most and I was more interested in is SDG 5 (Gender Equality)... How would I develop gender equality in my community? By doing training for women to enter these advocacy spaces.

Paunni Potosí, participant at a Youth 2030 Cities focus group Tweet

Partners

The project has been carried out by young people in partnership with the Otavalango Living Museum (Viviente Otavalango Museum) – a locally based cultural and spiritual centre of Kichwa tradition, aiming at promoting indigenous knowledge, wisdom, protecting intergenerational continuity and safeguarding the legacy of the Kichwa people. 

The curratorship of the Otavalango Living Museum has been instrumental in helping young people of Kichwa set the priorities, identify the beneficiaries, share of the interventions and concrete actions that can be done to pursue its objectives. 

Working together with the municipality of Otavalo, the project team awarded the participants of the learning sessions with the certificates endorsed by the municipality and the Otavalango Living Museum, with the latter providing incremental support in organising, raising awareness about the project, coordinating, mobilising and opening of its facilities for pro bono use.

Key achievements

Over the period of the project implementation, the team have re-ignited the interest of […] young people and children in learning about their roots, enabling them to communicate better in their mother tongue, both within the family and broader social environment.

Many cities in the developing world possess physical cultural assets in the form of historic urban cores. These historic cores are sources of culture and history within the city, and they must be saved for the benefit of future generations.

New Urban Agenda Crash Course Part 2 Tweet

In essence, children are encouraged to keep the Kichwa mother tongue alive, strengthening the culture and promoting better communication among and within Kichwa-speaking communities.

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