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Support Berito, An Elder from the U'wa People of Colombia

This fundraiser closed about 3 years ago

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The U'wa are a traditional indigenous community of 7,000 people inhabit the Andean Montane cloudforests of northeastern Colombia. The U'wa see themselves as the guardians of the Heart of the...

The U'wa are a traditional indigenous community of 7,000 people inhabit the Andean Montane cloudforests of northeastern Colombia. The U'wa see themselves as the guardians of the Heart of the World.  Guided by their spiritual leaders known as the Werjaya, the U'wa have lead an inspiring global movement to protect their culture and their sacred homeland.

Berito Kuwaru'wa is an U'wa elder and spiritual leader and served as the President of the U'wa high council and their international representative for over a decade.  Traveling to some two-dozen countries, Berito has brought the message of the need to defend the natural laws of Mother Earth.  He has been a champion of indigenous rights in Colombia and a key figure in the indigenous rights movement globally.   Now Berito needs the support of his friends and allies to improve his health and well being. 

I recently returned from visiting the U'wa territory for the first time after having worked with them for some 19 years. I continue to feel deeply inspired by Berito and the U'wa people and invite you to help me raise funds for keeping Berito healthy and strong.

About Berito

Berito was instrumental in the U'wa winning legal recognition of their ancestral territory.  He was a leader in the U'wa people's 7-year struggle that forced Occidental Petroleum to abandon its oil project on their sacred lands. The U'wa continue to successfully keep out oil companies.  In the early 1990's, Berito lead efforts to expel the missionaries who used to kidnap and abuse indigenous children (including him). Under Berito's leadership, the U'wa reclaimed the old mission and converted it to a bilingual school where nearly 100 U'wa children now attend.  He continues today to guide the next generation of U'wa leaders.

For his tireless efforts, Berito was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize in 1998.  A testament to his commitment to his people, Berito dedicated the entirely of his cash prize to purchase and reclaim additional areas of their ancestral territory to expand their legal reserve protecting areas the U'wa consider sacred.   Berito is truly a global treasure to all of humanity.

How to Support Berito's Wellness 

Berito lives a humble life surviving off the land from the staple foods that he and his family grow and from the wild foraging of fruits and vegetables from the forest.

Berito Kuwaru'wa has battled Tuberculosis and respiratory problems for many years.  He has been hospitalized several times and over the years his condition has become chronic.  In speaking to his close friends and associates from the U'wa Association recently, Amazon Watch learned what could help improve his health, is to build him a new house and support regular medical care.  His house, which is a modest wooden shack, needs to be torn down and rebuilt.  The home is open to the elements with constant cold drafts and damp conditions. In addition, the kitchen has an open fire pit where smoke is constantly filling the air.  His doctors have long advised him to reduce his exposure to smoke by weatherizing the house and installing a closed wood fire hearth that ventilates directly to the outside in order . 

To make this endeavor a reality, $6,000 is needed to build Berito new home and install a ceramic enclosed hearth kitchen and to make sure he receives regular medical care.  We have already secured a $3,000 matching fund!  Now need to raise the other $3,000 to make this vision a reality.   Please donate any amount you can $10, $50, or $500 and help support Berito and his continued work to help the U'wa defend the heart of the World. 

You can donate thru this page or thru Paypal ([email protected]). Be sure to mark your donation for Berito's Wellness Fund. 

Thank You and Happy Holidays!!

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