Bridging the north south divide

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There aren’t many opportunities for young people from the North and South Rupununi to meet, share information and spend time interacting with each other. In this article, we hear from Marshalla Perry from Maruranau Village in the South Rupununi, who spent three months as an intern on the Darwin traditional knowledge project, based at the NRDDB office in the North Rupununi.

It has been with great pleasure that I had the opportunity to work with the NRDDB team through the Cobra Collective as an intern on the project “Integrating traditional knowledge into national policy and practice”. This opportunity helped me develop my participatory video and researcher skills. I was introduced to the project by community researchers Rebecca Xavier, Grace Albert and Ryan Benjamin, when they visited Maruranau Village in December 2018. They were the ones who taught me how to edit videos and the different ways of capturing footage using a tablet. After the training, I was part of a team with Samaria Edward, Daniel Cyril, Sharline Lanis that carried out a community project for six months on important village indicators of traditional knowledge. We completed this work with the help of the village councillors and village members who were willing to share their traditional knowledge with us.

A few months later, I was told of the internship being offered. I indicated an interest and an official letter from NRDDB was sent out, inviting me to work on a contract for three months as an intern at the NRRDB office in Bina Hill, Annai. My parents gave permission for me to come and work with the team, and during those three months I experienced the challenge of translating my own native language, Wapishana, to English. I also had the chance to go with the NRDDB team on outreach visits to both South and North Rupununi communities of Fair View, Kwatamang, Surama, Parikwaranawa and Maruranau. During these visits, I helped the team in capturing the comments of persons who had feedback for the videos that were shown to the villagers of the communities.

Other work I contributed towards included putting together a tutorial video on “how to use an external microphone”. Here I made a video on a computer which was new to me, but with the help of Grace Albert I was able to successfully complete it. I also learnt a little on how to write a project report and managing finances.

Personally, I want to say GREAT thanks to all the staff and the local partners who helped me in learning new things that I have never experienced before. It was great travelling with the team to the communities, making new friends, both young and old. I was also impressed with the landscapes of the North Rupununi which helped me to feel at home there. To the persons who accommodated me, Rebecca and Grace, I want to say a big thank you for all the things that was provided and making it feel like it was home. I come from the Deep South Rupununi, from my Wapishana parents and home, so coming to the North Rupununi and spending three months with a Wapishana family made me feel very comfortable.

At the end of the three months, I had a message and call from home saying that my letter of approval for school teaching had come through. Although I will be returning to my village to be a teacher, I continue to work as a community researcher and aim to put into practice the skills I learnt with the NRDDB team, both in my teaching and in serving my community.

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Deirdre Jafferally has 17 years’ experience working in community based wildlife management and conservation. Deirdre first started working at the Iwokrama International Centre for Rainforest Conservation and Development, Guyana in the area of environmental monitoring. Recently, Deirdre has focused her interest in community resource management and Indigenous knowledge in the pursuit of a PhD exploring the implications of socio-ecological changes on Indigenous knowledge and practices, and its impact on forest conservation. She holds a BSc in Biology and MES in Sustainable Development and Ecological Monitoring.