Good News, Bad News – The price of truth

This morning I received good news and bad news. The good news is that the footage of illegal mining that I have been trying to get from a Peruvian television station will be made available to me. The news segment was an exclusive report which covered the raid and closure of a gold mining

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Madre de Dios River, Peru

operation on the Madre de Dios River. I had tried to get my own footage of that region but there are new (they spring up overnight) illegal mines all over the area and it is extemely dangerous. (It’s especially for a blond haired blue eyed girl like me! I stick out like a sore thumb in the jungle) So after weeks of email exchange in badly translated spanish, I have been given the rights to use the footage. The bad news… it’s $500 per minute and the special is 10:56 long.

So, here I am again, asking for more money. I need this footage! It shows the devastation and corruption that I was not able to capture myself. I could describe the activity but it just wouldn’t have the same impact that the images do.  You know the saying, a picture is worth a thousand words? Well in this case, the video is worth $5,500.

I’m almost finished filming this documentary. I have a few more interviews to capture here in Lima and then I return to Canada where I will start post production. I never budgeted for stock footage when I considered the costs for production, but this expense is still a small price to pay for the value of the video. Also, it contains an interview with the head of the ministry of mining and I have been unable to secure an interview with him. It’s too dangerous to ask questions of some people. Did you see my reports on activists being killed? So please share this update and donate to this film if you can. You can email transfer directly to me which means I get 100% of the funds, (GoFundMe takes a percentage for admin and operating costs)
Thanks to everyone for supporting me on this incredible journey. I can’t wait to show you the results of my investigations. Peruvian Heartache is an important film that demonstrates how crucial it is that we protect our culture, traditions and our planet.
Gracias!
— excerpt from email replyamerica
“Por políticas del canal nosotros tenemos unas tarifas establecidas para este tipo de solicitudes.

Para documentales, nuestros costos son los siguientes :
– $ 100.00 + IGV (el minuto, imágenes no exclusivas)
– $ 500.00 + IGV (el minuto cuando son imágenes exclusivas)

Se tiene que realizar un convenio con nuestra área legal y abonar en nuestras cuentas antes de entregar el material limpio.”

— And subsequent follow-upamerica
“Buenas noches, solo para informarles que el material que están solicitando pertenece al programa “Domingo al día”, la nota lo realizo el reportero Libero Belotti, fue emitido el 15 de noviembre del 2015 como exclusivo y tiene una duración de 10 min. 56 segs.

Saludos. “

Press Release: The Wampis nation of the Peruvian Amazon declares the creation of the first autonomous indigenous government in Peru

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While world leaders were meeting in Paris for climate talks, an ambitious group of indigenous leaders were holding their own meetings in the Amazon Rainforest. Although at this time they are not recognised by the government of Peru, they are fighting to protect their lands by creating a Nation of unity.  more

Source: Press Release: The Wampis nation of the Peruvian Amazon declares the creation of the first autonomous indigenous government in Peru

Trends and Cutural Influences in Peru

Those that have televisions and/or computers have no idea that children require censorship and parental restrictions hence they consume programming which is (In my opinion) completely inappropriate. I watched in horror as an eight year old spent hours viewing Youtube videos of adults playing Shoot to Kill video games… literally from morning until night. When he wasn’t watching or playing video games he was watching horror films.  I can’t even watch stuff like that.
I realized that for the most part, the people of Peru are at least 20 to 30 years behind Americans in media education and awareness. Although unfortunately for most Americans, they know they are watching garbage but continue to do so anyways. (Much the same as knowledge that sugary or salty snacks and fast food are bad for us; most keep eating them despite the facts)


Misinformation and lack of education are huge predictors, for example, I was drinking green tea and my host asked me why I was using diet tea. The package even had a bikini clad torso on it. I told her that green tea was a healthy, antioxident with many useful benefits and that you would need to drink upwards of 10 to 14 cups per day for any sort of dietary affect. She refused to believe that one or 2 cups  was indeed healthy and not harmful, and declined to accept my explanations until after I showed her proof from nutritional websites. (However, she still refused the tea when offered)

Almost all of the publicity and advertising in Peru features American (caucasian) models. The stores are full of cheaply made merchandise which mimics or badly copies the culture of the United States. Rozen instead of Frozen… Carz instead of Cars… and crackers called Kraps (Kraft?)
In general there doesn’t seem to be much of an “environmental awakening” here. People throw away trash in city parks and on the streets without a thought. Only the upperclass neighbourhoods are clean with proper bins for disposal. (mostly because of fear of fines) The taxis run on propane, liguid gas or diesel but strictly for economic reasons. The wave of awareness hasn’t hit the beaches of Peru yet… nor the mountains. In two and half months and over 40 towns and villages I have only seen about a dozen recycling bins. Plastic is quickly being adopted as the new luxury. Global ignorance gives way to marketers with corrupt agendas. While much of Europe and many industrialized countries are scrambling to refuse, reuse, reduce and re-invent, Peru is still in early adoption stages.

It would be nice to reverse that trend before any more damage is done. With a frighteningly fast rise in mining and deforestation (both legal and illegal) and massive dam and pipeline projects underway, it won’t be long before this beautiful country becomes a barren wasteland. For the moment many of its citizens remain uninvolved and oblivious to the dangers.
I realize that trying to spread the warning internally is useless. We need to send the message from the outside for it to be heard and adpopted. I have footage of all the problems… I’m now focused on trying to reach for solutions.

I’m open to hearing ideas from all of you. Please comment or message me directly – nonimovie(at)gmail.com

Also if  you’d like to support my film effort you can do so here Peruvian Heartache Documentary
Best to all of you this holiday season and as we head into a new year, wishing you many blessings for 2016!

Alison (Noni) Richards
StopResetGo.org

Where I´ve been the past month…

amazon kids

I just arrived back in Lima after having spent the past 7 weeks on location. The first month was spent in the highlands of the Andes where I filmed interviews with the indigenous people who are struggling to maintain their traditions and culture despite countless global influences. No matter who I spoke to, or where I went, money almost always was the main problem. The Incas were a people who celebrated and honored a system of reciprocity and currency is not part of their heritage. Unfortunately they have been forced into an existance where they must participate in our capitalistic system. They now have electricity in their homes but must pay a fee to the government, their children need uniforms for school and they must pay for transportation. Some members of the community are more successful than others and it has created a divide in what was once a tightly knit family. Others live in utter poverty, succumb to alcholism or spend money on giant TV’s and sattelite dishes while their children go barefoot and hungry.

Education is the key to alleviating many of these problems but influences like climate change (crops no longer grow because of changes in weather conditions), pollution and contamination from mining or industry, and tourism (explotation) contribute to suffering in complicated and devastating ways. Rampant corruption at all levels of government amplify the effects of disparity and poverty. I am hoping not only to point out the problems in my accounts but also to provide suggestions and implement stategies to alleviate these conditons.

I was relieved to move from the highlands, where I suffered from altitude sickness for most of the time, to the lowlands in the Amazon jungle. Peru is home to 1/4 of the worlds natural forests and I thrived in the lush environment. Fresh air and moisture was an almost instant cure. Unfortunately for many, illegal deforestation and mining have proved otherwise. 9 out of 15 fish in Peru have unsafe mercury levels due to contamination from mining activites. Many of the indigenous farms have been destroyed due to poisoned lands or flooding from operations that have been left to ravage the landscape illegally. The indigenous people have held their ground bravely and battled powerful and greedy forces to try and protect the environment but many have lost their lives due to violence, murder or illness from the toxins.

A modern day version of the wild wild west; guns control the area, law enforcement officials are painfully absent, children attending schools when safe to do so, families torn apart, livestock destroyed, crops failing and workers robbed while returning to their homes. I wasn’t able to film in all the areas because I was scared to death and rightfully wise to keep my distance. Many activists have lost their lives attempting to stand their ground. I wept when we found giant trees butchered and left to rot for morsels of choice wood likely bound for Mexico or the US… I swallowed my tears and held a brave face when sharing a river boat with a family that was fleeing their land… my heart is heavy… Peruvian Heartache is a story that begs to be heard.

Have you invested in Gold in recent years? Chances are someone lost their life trying to protect the rainforest it was stripped from. Do you have a new dining room table? Perhaps the wood was stolen from a national reserve in the forest that is responsible for creating more than 20% of the oxygen in the world.

Please help me to finish this important film. I have excellent profiles of the locals, revealing images of the devastation and alarming information about the secrets being concealed in this country struggling to maintain its culture and traditions. I have nearly exhausted my funds and need to find additional resources for a few more weeks of filming and then post production. Luckily I have been blessed with the generosity of many who have contributed both time and resources to help capture this story, but editing is tedious and expensive. I have a burning desire to get this film to the public as quickly as possible so that we can help save both people and protect the health of the lands.

I can also use your help in spreading the word. I need airmiles for travel (for both me and crew) and any other assistance you can offer. I don’t want to beg, but I am! Never have I felt as strongly about shouting a warning to the world as now.

Thanks for your support and well wishes. Can’t wait to share this amazing story with you all.

Alison xox

Missing Posts… Back in Cusco with Internet

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Each of these posts was written by different members of the Reach Out Volunteer team. It has been an enriching experience for me capturing their work, travels and experiences for our film and  pleasure to have gotten to know them a bit.

The train ride back from Machu Picchu was bitter sweet. I was happy to be heading back to Cusco and to get caught up on my correspondence… but I knew that I may never again get the opportunity to visit all the amazing places that we had been too. These posts will be a lasting memory of those days. Posts for Day 1 through 3 have already been put to my facebook, but are also available on the wordpress site.

We are on our final 2 days of the 14 day journey… today we visit an animal rescue center, an artisan center that fabricates silver jewelry and a baby alpaca factory for tapestries and textiles.

stay tuned for 3 more soon…

 

 

Day 16 -Trash and Treasures

Walking around the streets of Cusco is like being inside movie. As a filmmaker who scrutinizes each scene, I find myself rubber-necking almost constantly.  The colors,  the textures, the cacophony and sharpness in the area are hypnotic and mesmerizing.

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I stopped carrying my camera while exploring since it made me a target. Not for robbery, the streets here are very safe, but for vendors and artists and shoe shine boys all enthusiastically trying to earn my attention and dollars.

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Also, all the children here want there photos taken,  not for money but for posterities sake. They dive in front of the lens and shout, Photo! Photo!

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I could wander for hours and never get bored…. but I have a film to finish so I better get back to translating our footage.

Enjoy the sights wherever you are!

Day 15 – Non Profit, or Not?

Yesterday Yieber and I had a meeting with a local representative from an NGO in the United States. They don’t have an office here in Peru but when donations are made and specified to be spent here in Peru they process that request and distribute the funding.

Since we have starting filming our documentary we have heard many pleas for help. The small school we visited in Patabamba needs books, computers, teaching aids and money for nutritional food.

Many schools have programs to feed the children. How do we keep the pot full for all?
Many schools have programs to feed the children. How do we keep the pot full for all the children?

In the same small village high in the Andes, the women’s weaving council needs help to sell their textiles. They asked for assistance to set up a website and marketing tools, need help with training and technolgy to be competative in todays marketplace, not to mention supplies for the actual products.

When we visited a school in Lamay we saw firsthand how small contributions, well-managed, can effect huge change. The children in that community were healthy, happy and well on their way to receiving a good education. A few of the children even practiced their english and french with me.

It’s been difficult going into areas that are so poverty-stricken and not being able to help. Sometimes just a small amount of money can turn around an entire community. Upgrading the irrigation system for the farmers, providing books for the schools, seeds for nutritional crops, chimneys in kitchens to reduce asthma, respiratory illness and even cancer… all simple and cost-effective solutions that dramatically improve the quality of living for families living in remote regions.

I know that a lot of people are reluctant to give to causes without the benefit of receiving a tax receipt or having the assurance that the money will actually be going to the right place. For this reason we are investigating setting up a registered society (NGO)

We’d love your feedback on this idea since it is a challenging process, time-consuming and expensive. If we build it, will you participate?

If you want to sponsor our film, and you’re not worried about a tax receipt, there are many ways you can do this now. Donate your airmiles, (travel is an expense that is robbing our budget) provide financial help either through GoFundMe or direct email transaction, share our blog or aid us in the real production. (create graphics, write music, do research, voice-over, editing, PR, write press releases…etc)

We’re heading to the highlands again tomorrow to meet with a community leader and arrange for a donation of shoes for all the children. I’ll be posting some video of that adventure in a few days.

Thanks for your support! Please share 🙂

 

Day 13 Translation continues…Out with the contronyms!

Yesterday was an interesting day. We had filmed some interviews over a week ago but since they are in a different language I didn’t know what anyone was saying. When Yieber and I translated the clips, actually he translated while I typed, and I finally got to hear what they were sharing.

Bautista T’ilka T’ilka – President of the Association of Tourism Seven Springs (also Construction Foreman) I had no idea how articulate and well spoken he was until we translated his footage.

This film has been an intriguing challenge for so many reasons. First there is the language barrier; I had to learn to interview people without being the person asking the questions. Then we have financial restrictions; i.e. an incredibly limited budget. Combine that with remote locations, rainy season and high altitude, well… it´s a good thing I like a challenge.

Making sure that I understand clearly what the subjects are saying can sometimes be tricky. Yieber and I end up in discussion over the correct meaning of a word, or how the same word can be used in different ways and have completely different meanings. He speaks English as a third language and when I explain the specifics of a definition at times I even get confused myself. Words like those are called  contronyms.

I found a great list and explanation of them on MentalFloss.com  These are words that are their own opposites.

Here’s an ambiguous sentence for you: “Because of the agency’s oversight, the corporation’s behavior was sanctioned.” Does that mean, ‘Because the agency oversaw the company’s behavior, they imposed a penalty for some transgression’ or does it mean, ‘Because the agency was inattentive, they overlooked the misbehavior and gave it their approval by default’? We’ve stumbled into the looking-glass world of “contronyms”—words that are their own antonyms.

1. Sanction (via French, from Latin sanctio(n-), from sancire ‘ratify,’) can mean ‘give official permission or approval for (an action)’ or conversely, ‘impose a penalty on.’
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2. Oversight is the noun form of two verbs with contrary meanings, “oversee” and “overlook.” “Oversee,” from Old English ofersēon ‘look at from above,’ means ‘supervise’ (medieval Latin for the same thing: super- ‘over’ + videre ‘to see.’) “Overlook” usually means the opposite: ‘to fail to see or observe; to pass over without noticing; to disregard, ignore.’
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3. Left can mean either remaining or departed. If the gentlemen have withdrawn to the drawing room for after-dinner cigars, who’s left? (The gentlemen have left and the ladies are left.)
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4. Dust, along with the next two words, is a noun turned into a verb meaning either to add or to remove the thing in question. Only the context will tell you which it is. When you dust are you applying dust or removing it? It depends whether you’re dusting the crops or the furniture.
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5. Seed can also go either way. If you seed the lawn you add seeds, but if you seed a tomato you remove them…. more

So, as you can see, translation from one language to another can be complicated. In Quechuan there are expressions that make no sense in English, the same can be said with Spanish. The trick is in finding the nuance and true meaning of what someone is saying and capture that essence as accurately as possible.

But with all the obstacles comes surprises and rewards. I have the honor of meeting and working with some truly incredible people. I am learning more than I ever could have bargained for and with luck I can translate/transmute/transfer that information clearly into the film.

Day Ten – Urubamba, Sacred Valley

IMG_2054Today I ventured out solo on a day trip to Urubamba in the Sacred Valley.  I had been introduced to Caroline Putnam via a mutual friend on Facebook and wanted to hear about her experiences living and working with the Q’ero (an indigenous tribe living at over 15,000 and in one the most remote areas of the Andes)  Since she is originally from Louisiana I was able to interview her without needing an interpretor.
As per the usual drill, I took a taxi from the house, it cost me more than usual since I got the tourist rate, then caught a van to valley.  I sat beside the only other fair haired girl, Katrina from Germany. We instantly struck up a conversation, exchanged ideas and shared experiences on the hour long trip through the mountains. It’s always such a treat to connect with kindred spirits on my journeys and Katrine was no exception.

When we arrived in Urubamba about half the passengers got out while Katrine stayed to continue on to Ollantaytambo. I admire women who travel solo in foriegn lands, especially in countries where they don’t speak the language.  I wished her well, paid the driver, then searched for a payphone to contact Caroline.  The phone was out of service so I was directed to another, also not working.  Three men had been watching me and when I walked toward them in hopes of being directed to a functional payphone one of them pulled a cell phone from his breast pocket and handed it to me.
Wow! I didn’t even have to struggle with trying to make myself understood in limited spanish. I made my call and minutes later Caroline pulled up on her motorcycle and handed me a helmet.
Her house was nearby and I saw my first glimpse of North and South American fusion.

Caroline Putnam
Caroline Putnam

Caroline has lived in Urubamba for 2 years with her partner who was from the Q’ero nation but whom she originally met in Lima. They have plans to marry soon and it will be the first mix of an outsider into the strictly closed Q’eros indigenous community. We spent several hours talking about our goals and priorities then moved from the kitchen/dining/living room to her meditation room (an outbuilding on the property) where she had invited me for a sonic healing session.

Using voice, drum, bells, rattle, smudge stick, insense and essential oils, Caroline called upon the sonic vibration and Healing Ceremonyenergy within and surrounding me to facilitate a healing and unification of my spirit. It was an enriching experience and I enjoyed the sensations created by her intentions. I recorded the session so will try to  post a soundbite later.

When she was finished we sat quietly for a few minutes then talked about our experiences during the ceremony and gave thanks for the experience.  We returned to the house where she shared a meal of vegetable soup plus avocado and salsa wrapped in seaweed with me. I gathered my notes from our earlier conversation, my camera and recording equipment then we chose the meditation room to film the interview.  It was interesting to hear a North Americans’ perspective of the indeginous people  of Peru, especially from someone so spiritually attuned and in a serious relationship with one of its natives.

I could easily understand her attraction to the people and the culture since I myself was falling under their spell. Her insights and perspective however, seemed to come more from a point of a local than that of a foriegner.  After we finished her interview I had an opportunity to speak with her brother in law who was in the process of searching for land to relocate his family from their home in the hilltops down to the town of Urubamba. Ricardo is a Maestro (medicine man) 24 years old with 4 small children.  He needed to find practical work to augment his earnings as a maestro (master)
He sat chewing coca leaves while Caroline interpreted for me.

Ricardo Apaza Cruz
Ricardo Apaza Cruz

I learned more about the coca leaves from Ricardo and Caroline. A vital part of the Indigenous culture, they help not only with problems associated with high altitude but a host of other health concerns. Plant based medicine is the primary basis of the Maestro’s arsenal of cures. The knowledge is passed down from generation to generation but there is danger in losing these traditional ways since the young people today are more interested in technologies and modern affairs.

Day 9 – Ditching Plastic , going back to the old ways.

When I started planning this documentary back in April, I had a pretty good idea of the story I wanted to tell. I knew that there was a recurring theme around the world and I decided to film people who were attempting to live sustainable alternative lifestyles. It seems there’s been an awakening of sorts… people are beginning to realize that we can no longer sustain ourselves and keep our planet healthy by continuing to use methods employed in the past half a century.

Dark Days Ahead
Dark Days Ahead

I thought about the indigenous people in Canada, in North America, and partially credited them with preserving what little pristine land we had left. There could likely have been pipelines running all over the continent if not for their actions, (along with activists and concerned citizens) to halt the agressive devastation caused by the so called, industrial powerhouses. I was certain that many of those First Nations were living below the poverty level and I imagined the same was true all over the world.

But does not having money really make you poor?

After spending nearly a month in Peru I have discovered that the indigenous peoples are just as impovershed, just as disadvantaged but just as fierce in their efforts to maintain their traditions and return to the ancient ways. Sure, they have electricity, and many have cell phones, but they have recognized that we need to respect and protect mother earth or we’re all headed down a very dark path.

I have listened to their stories and heard their call for help. Now it’s my duty to share that information with the world. I have been forced to change course and subject matter for the film, just was we need to change the way we live.

One of the things that has been knawing away at me since my arrival in Peru is the amount of plastic being used. Plactic bags, bottles, dishes… it seems in direct contradiction to their goals to achieve a healthier planet. High atop the mountains are piles of garbage displaying a rainbow of plastic… blue, green, yellow and if you look closely you can see the clear bottles which somehow missed the recycling pile.

Kudos to the city of San Francisco for becoming the first city in America to ban the sale and use of single serving plastic bottles! There are bans in some national parks aready and also at some Universities, but this is the first US city to make such a move.

Rowanda banned plastic bags in 2012 and is now one of the cleanest countries in Africa. Banning plastic bags and bottles is a small step, but it’s definately going in the right direction.

Plastic is killing us, and the earth!

United Nations News Centre – image credit

Please consider buying a refillable water bottle and using cloth shopping sacs and alternatives like mason jars for storing foods. We managed for thousands of years without the use of plastic, we can manage again.

A global shift is occuring… be an active part in it!

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