Grace Kraaijvanger, CEO and founder of The Hivery, recently hosted an empowerment brunch benefiting Ecuadorian Pachamama Alliance and its unique safe birthing program “Ikiama Nukuri” ( “Jungle Mamas”) founded in 2006.
The benefit event was held at the latest The Hivery location at San Francisco’s Fort Mason Center for the Arts & Culture and featured a presentation by Lynne Twist, co-founder of the Pachamama Alliance.
The Pachamama Alliance seeks “to empower indigenous people of the Amazon rainforest to preserve their lands and culture and, using insights gained from that work, to educate and inspire individuals everywhere to bring forth a thriving, just, and sustainable world.”
The Pachamama Alliance’s goals include seeking to protect land, culture, and overall location of the Amazon basin, working specifically to safeguard indigenous rights, protecting the sacred headwaters of the Amazon, empowering indigenous women and girls (specifically through programs such as Ikiama Nukuri), supporting sustainable indigenous economies, and promoting the rights of Nature. To inspire the future, the Alliance also offers what they call Core Educational Programs, such as “Awakening the Dreamer” and “Game Changer Intensives”; a Pachamama Alliance Drawdown Initiative that involves focus on reversing Global Warming and offering a workshop that helps individuals get into right action for this; and the Pachamama Alliance Community Development arm which seeks to create powerful online community as well as organized groups of people in some 21 countries to create collaboration. Projections for 2020 include the expansion of programs available to the Achuar people also to the Scawar people.
The Pachamama Alliance was founded because the elders and shaman of the Achuar people, indigenous to the Amazon region in Ecuador, were having dreams of threat to their surroundings. The Achuar people reached out to “First World” countries for help. The Pachamama Alliance, under founding leadership of Bill and Lynne Twist and John Perkins, was “born out of an invitation to protect the source and inspire the future” of this region.
The Hivery, a “collaborative and creative co-working space where you can pursue your work, passions, ideas and what’s next,” seems the perfect place for women to launch world-changing projects.
This benefit for the Pachamama Alliance celebrated the partnership between Twist’s organization, specifically its Ikiama Nukuri program focusing on safe and healthy child bearing for indigenous women.
Kraaijvanger shared about her experience traveling to Ecuador this year and visiting among the indigenous people with the Pachamama Alliance. “There was a little boy,” she shared, “who attached himself to me like a sloth. He kept telling me ‘te amo.’ I really felt graced by such a gift.” Knowing that her participation in the Pachamama Alliance’s Ikiama Nukuri program was making sure “he’s safe, happy, and vibrant” was very rewarding for Kraaijvanger. She “decided then and there that (she) and The Hivery would become support partners.”
Kraaijvanger introduced Twist as “a She-ro of mine.” Before she spoke, Twist had everyone in attendance pronounce the name “Ikiama Nukuri” three times so that there could be “full understanding.”
“’Pachamama] means ‘Mother Earth,” Twist said, “for indigenous peoples…” She spoke briefly about the ways in which women work together to not only support one another but also bring positive change into our world.
“We (women) fall in love with each other,” Twist said. “When we gather together for anything, we gather together for everything. We elevate each other…” She spoke about the ways in which women can be powerful with their resources.
“Money is a ‘currency’,” Twist reminded the group. “It carries that signature of love. The heart of this program is women who love,” she said, adding, upon seeing a few men in the audience, “It also comes from men who love…”
The safe birthing program, Ikiama Nukuri has four main goals: training local Community Maternal Health Promoters who educate and support Achuar women and families through pregnancy and childbirth; providing Safe Birth Kits; collaboration with One Heart World-Wide which further fosters safe birthing practices, and working with Achuar women and men to build up communities.
Through interpreter and long-time Pachamama Alliance support Robin Fink, Ikiama Nukuri Director Narcisa Mashienta thanked the group for empowering her to give birth in her own home. The two showed a film outlining the work done by the group in the community. Mashienta was emotional as she addressed the audience.
“Empowering each woman has been different,” Mashienta explained through tears, “because each one has a different story. Many women have given birth and life there (through the program) and many women have died there.”
Mashienta co-founded Fundacion Pachamama in 2006 with midwife Margaret Love. She has been an activist and Shuar leader working with indigenous nationalities. Through Ikiama Nukuri, she coordinates the work of now 63 community health promoters trained through this program. These promoters not only focus on healthy childbirth but also healthy relationships and healthy communities- including eradicating violence against women.
“Every time I speak brings tears,” Mashienta confirmed, “because every one of the 63 workers is a survivor (of domestic violence).”
But there is good news: Since 2013, Mashienta reported, there has been an increase in births (the average Achuar family has five children) but without a single maternal death. “Our work is done,” Mashienta said, “so we can leave our planet safe for our children
Kraaijvanger admits that her recent trip to Ecuador with the Pachamama Alliance was life changing. “I don’t speak a lot of Spanish,” Kraaijvanger shared with the attentive crowd. “One year ago I knew nothing; now I am committed for life to learning. The Hivery and Pachamama Alliance are partnering, and I invite you, most of all, to fall in love.”
Event attendees enjoyed coffee compliments of sponsor Equator Coffee. Attendees were invited to mingle and exchange ideas mid-program while they enjoyed a light brunch served elegantly by Hivery staffers.
“Co-working and inspiration are metaphors for changing the world,’ Kraaijvanger said as she dismissed the group, “and these women are shining examples of what’s inside all of us…”
©2019 Photos and Text M D Caprario
Michele Caprario is a writer and editor interested in people, projects, places and things that bring goodness to our world. Connect with her at https://www.linkedin.com/in/michelecaprario or email her at [email protected]
More information about Pachamama Alliance and its programs can be found here: https://www.pachamama.org/.
The Hivery is located in Fort Mason Center, San Francisco (directly across from Flax). Address: 2 Marina Blvd, Bldg D #100, San Francisco, CA 94123 Original The Hivery location is at 38 Miller Avenue, #20, Mill Valley, CA 94941. Inquires can be made at [email protected]