Rising Voices grantee project update
From February 9-20, the project Chariboan Joi held its digital journalism workshop, which was one of the project's core activities. In the workshop 10 Shipibo youth took part, including high school students from the Peruvian Amazon region from the indigenous communities Nueva Betania, Nueva Palestina, and Bethel. The purpose of the workshop was to teach the basics of digital citizen journalism, with an emphasis on audio reporting using mobile phones.
The Organization of Indigenous Youth of the Ucayali Region (OJIRU ) was in charge of introducing the participants and the announcement of the workshop agenda. The participants’ ages ranged from 13 to 17, so many of them made the trip with their parents from their communities to the facilities of the organization Alianza Arkana  in the city of Yarinacocha, located four hours downriver from their places of origin.
The workshop started with an evaluation to determine the skills of the participants. With the results, the activities were scheduled to help bridge the digital gap. There were practical lessons about information searching tools on the Internet, and the youth received help to create their e-mail and Facebook accounts. From that moment on, the Internet and computers became inseparable allies of the youth. That made it hard for them to be apart from their recently discovered allies, even at bedtime. They used it mainly to be informed about entertainment and sports, and to update their Facebook accounts. It was satisfying to see how they overcame their fear of computers and the Internet to watch them getting familiar day by day with this new world.
One of the activities of the workshop was an exercise of news perspective, depending on the interests of who is informing. So we created a story about a citizen being ran over due to the malfunctioning of traffic lights, and from there we recreated radio news with opposite perspectives. One radio station was funded by the municipal governemnt, which was responsible for the traffic lights, and concealed information on the report. The other one was an independent radio station that interviewed all of the parties involved, except for the local government, who refused to be interviewed. From there, we analyzed regional and national news, trying to discover concealed interests to offer a particular perspective. The youth went from being passive viewers of the news to having a critical look about its trustworthiness and objectivity.
Another activity was the production of radio programs, where they simulated being at a radio station with all its atmosphere and equipment. The youth themselves were responsible for the programming, reporting, interviews music and news. They also visited radio station La Primerísima Pucallpa, that broadcasts on FM and on the internet, during the news program FECONAU (Federation of Native Communities of Ucayali River and Tributaries) hosted by Shipibo journalist Jorge Soria. There they witnessed how a live program is run. They were also interviewed.
One of the last exercises was to make reports with mobile phones. Divided in groups of two and three youth, along with a member of OJIRU, they walked around the city to interview the residents about education, environment, and public services. Each participant came back with an interview, some in the Shipibo language, others in Spanish. They will soon be available online.
The workshop ended up with a brief closing ceremony where they received their participation diplomas. The activities were intense and exhausting, but very gratifying, as there was much reflection about the cultural revaluing of the Shipibo people in modern times, the state policies that affect their rights, the extractive polluting industries, the lack or inefficiency of public services, among other issues. We hope all what they've learned starts growing in these young people as they grow as individuals.
There is a gap that leaves disadvantages in formal education as well as in access to information and skills with computer tools in indigenous populations. We hope we've contributed to overcome these differences through citizen power. The youth who attended the workshop, now members of the team of Chariboan Joi (formed by OJIRU and Alianza Arkana),must apply all they've learned. Maybe some of them will become press correspondents in the short term. We'll see that in the next months.
After the workshop, there were some changes in the leadership of OJIRU. Currently, two delegates have been appointed to coordinate the project, Joely Mirena y Ketín Gonzales, who are already working on the training of blog tools.
Next month, our efforts will be focused on audio editing and how to upload them on a website, OJIRU communication empowerment, and consolidation of the blog.
Irake (thank you).