A dialogue strategy to secure wellbeing among indigenous researchers

A dialogue strategy to secure wellbeing among indigenous researchers

Colombia - 16 June, 2021

This dialogue strategy aims to give feedback to the concerns of indigenous families living in the Bogotá and to have a tangible impact on their wellbeing. It also addresses the challenges in the building of cultural identity in indigenous communities today.

Tropenbos Colombia has been working with indigenous communities from the mid River Caquetá area for more than fifteen years. Our organization has been promoting and accompanying local research projects directed to the cultural strengthening of communities and the recognition of local knowledge in different scenarios. Throughout these years, our organization has secured close connections with local knowledge holders based on trust. This aspect is of great importance because it is at the root of our approach to landscapes studies and local knowledge management. Nevertheless, and due to varied social issues, including a long-lasting racial discrimination trail, indigenous researchers—living in their own communities or in the large cities like Bogotá— are constantly facing the consequences of the fragility of the social fabric as well as many obstacles to express their own culture.

Thanks to the everyday interaction of our staff with this group of indigenous researchers and their families, we have been able to identify complex personal and family experiences that are challenging for their wellbeing. For instance, the abuse of alcohol has had an evident impact over domestic environments and has led to the abuse of children, family violence, the loss of self-esteem, family fragmentation and the deterioration of their cultural identity. The recurrence and increase of such situations has always been recognized by our organization but has now become crucial to address these topics more openly. Moreover, now that young indigenous members of the communities are facing problems such as the abuse of illegal substances and the replica of violent behaviors.

Our focus in the attention to psychosocial problems so far has not been technical but humanitarian and based on solidarity. It has also been addressed indirectly through pedagogical interaction in the frame of local research activities that have an important impact on self-esteem and an improvement of the self-image. Nevertheless, every day, the necessity to open a space to discuss these issues from a more sensitive and specialized perspective becomes much more evident. Talking about these kind of problems it not easy. Consequently, Tropenbos Colombia has organized a series of meetings to allow the personal narratives to emerge in order to promote a scenario for the reflection and understanding of the impact of such experiences in everyday life. The sessions for wellbeing among indigenous researchers is a space for peer to peer learning, a space to exchange concepts, practices, stories, experiences and emotions in order to find a meaningful interaction at a social, family and work levels as well as a path to find a sense of wellbeing.

Today, indigenous men and women from different resguardos in the Araracuara region living in Bogotá form part of this dialogue group. They are accompanied by students from the Psychology Department of the Universidad Externado de Colombia who are developing their internships under the supervisions of their teachers. Their role is to facilitate the construction of a transforming dialogue and the discussion of the personal, cultural, academic and technical visions of the indigenous people living in Bogotá.