How would you feel if tourism was your only means of survival? Would you be willing to share your culture with hundreds and hundreds of tourists? Would you remain in a place where you are no longer able to hunt animals…no longer able to cut down trees…or even plant food to survive?
Day four in Panama and I was able to see how a community who faces these problems lives when we visited the Embera Indigenous Village. We started our journey with an hour long bus ride going further away from Panama City and into the rural parts of the country. Just when we thought our adventure was almost complete, we got into canoes and traveled down the river into Darien territory. We traveled down the river for about 20 minutes before we made land, and then hiked about a mile jungle where we spent some time at a breath taking waterfall. After spending some time with nature, we hiked back to the canoes and traveled to the actual Embera Puru Village.
When we arrived at their village we were greeted by the Embera with music, we were even able to play their instruments ourselves. After settling down, we learned about some of the traditions of the Embera people. We learned how the Embera spend many days handcrafting goods to sell to the tourists who come to their small community. We also learned about the power the Embera women have within their community. Yes, they have certain tradition roles such as learning how to craft elaborate baskets and caring for the children. However, they are also supported by the community so they can seek a higher education in the big city. There is a school for the children in the village already, which is taught by one teacher, covering primary school. We also learned about the equality within the community, which allowed for hold traditional leadership positions within the Embera.
I found it encouraging seeing that the young women of Embera were given opportunities to continue their education. For education is still a privilege for so many people. In fact, universal education for all children is the second Millennium Development Goal that the United Nations is working towards completing by 2015. Many children living in rural areas are not able to receive education, or the education they are receiving is very limited. I believe that everyone should be given the opportunity to get an education because it is a basic human right.
I believe that I being an agent of change is about using the opportunities that we have been given to help those who may not be as privileged as me. With the education that I have been fortunate enough to receive should be put to use. NOW is the time for me to think about how I can use what I have learned to benefit those in my community and communities around the world.