LACVOX Contest Launched! ¡Ya Lanzó el Concurso LACVOX!

July 31, 2009

El Fondo de las Naciones Unidas para la Infancia (UNICEF), en colaboración con SONY y con Sonico, el Programa de las Naciones Unidas para el Medio Ambiente (PNUMA) y la participación de la Fundación Albatros Media, lanzan el Concurso Investigativo LACVOX para Adolescentes Comunicadores de América Latina y el Caribe. Para saber como participar y ganar premios fantasticos, haz clic aquí!!

UNICEF, in collaboration with SONY, SONICO, UNEP and the participation of the Albatros Media Foundation, has launched the LACVOX Research Contest for Adolescent Comunicators from Latin America and the Caribbean! To know about how to participate and win fantastic prizes, click here!

UNICEF, PNUMA, SONY, la red social Sonico y la Fundación Albatros Media lanzan concurso investigativo para comunicadores adolescentes

July 31, 2009

Panamá 30 de julio, 2009 – El Fondo de las Naciones Unidas para la Infancia (UNICEF), en colaboración con SONY y con Sonico, el Programa de las Naciones Unidas para el Medio Ambiente (PNUMA) y la participación de la Fundación Albatros Media, lanzan el Concurso Investigativo LACVOX para Adolescentes Comunicadores de América Latina y el Caribe (aquí).

El objetivo de este concurso es motivar a los miles de adolescentes comunicadores de la región a interesarse por la conservación del medio ambiente al tiempo que aprenden acerca de los pueblos indígenas de América  Latina y el Caribe, conocen y valoran sus tradiciones de conservación, su trabajo sostenible de la tierra y la importancia que tiene la preservación de la naturaleza en su cultura y costumbres.

A partir del 30 de julio hasta el 5 de octubre, del 2009, los comunicadores desde los 9 años hasta los 18 años tendrán oportunidad de optar por alguno de los premios que ofrece el concurso en las categorías de mejor reportaje de radio, prensa, televisión, fotografía, y diseño de afiche. También se ha creado un espacio para  promover la participación de las escuelas de la región las cuales podrán presentar sus proyectos dentro de estas mismas categorías.

Los ganadores recibirán como premios, productos electrónicos de la marca Sony, tales como: cámaras digitales, video grabadoras y pantallas LCD entre otros.

SONY INTERAMERICA desarrolla la iniciativa de Responsabilidad Social Empresarial (RSE) enfocada en promover valores educativos en niños y jóvenes. Nuestro compromiso con UNICEF se extiende desde nuestra casa matriz en Tokio, quienes brindan el apoyo a UNICEF a nivel mundial, expresó Richard Fairest, Presidente de Sony Inter-American.

El  Concurso Investigativo LACVOX es parte de las actividades para fortalecer la Red Regional de Adolescentes Comunicadores LACVOX, movimiento que coordina la Oficina Regional de UNICEF para América Latina y el Caribe y que reúne a las distintas redes de comunicadores juveniles establecidas en los países de la región. Las redes se enmarcan bajo los principios de participación y desarrollo de la niñez y adolescencia que promueven UNICEF y sus aliados.

La red social Sonico también se ha sumado a esta iniciativa a través de la creación de la página pública del concurso y difundiéndola a sus 40 millones de usuarios de Latinoamérica. “Este concurso está muy relacionado con valores y creencias muy profundas de nuestra compañía, como es la importancia de la libre expresión en los jóvenes de nuestra región y por eso nos encanta ser parte de esta actividad organizada por UNICEF y PNUMA”, señalo Tomás O’Farrell, Fundador y CMO de Sonico.
 
Por su parte el Director Regional de UNICEF para América Latina y el Caribe comentó sobre la importancia del derecho a la participación adolescente: “UNICEF valora el derecho a la libertad de expresión como un requisito indispensable que permite a la niñez y adolescencia empoderarse de sus derechos y ser motores de su propio desarrollo, al tiempo que se favorecen sus relaciones familiares, comunitarias y sociales, fortaleciendo su transición hacia la vida adulta.”

Por otro lado, la Convención sobre los Derechos del Niño celebra sus 20 años  el próximo noviembre 2009, de manera que el concurso y la premiación a los mejores trabajos por categoría, forman parte de las actividades conmemorativas.

Para Mara Murillo, Directora Regional Adjunta del Programa de las Naciones Unidas para el Medio Ambiente, PNUMA; “el trabajo con jóvenes se enfoca en el fomentar actividades en las áreas del desarrollo de capacidades, del conocimiento ambiental, y del intercambio de información”. Luego agrega, “queremos promover una visión amplia que tienda a formar una generación de ciudadanos ambientalmente conscientes y capaces de una acción positiva.”

Para mayor información
Ana María Ortiz, aortiz@unicef.org, UNICEF América Latina y el Caribe
Rody Oñate, rody.onate@unep.org, PNUMA América Latina y el Caribe
Ambar Collado, Ambar.Collado@am.sony.com, Sony Interamerica
Florencia Sabatini, florencia.sabatini@sonico.com, Red Social Sonico
contactenos@albatrosmedia.net, Fundación Albatros Media

UNICEF en America Latina y Caribe www.unicef.org/lac
Sonico Lacvox http://www.sonico.com/publico/unicef_lacvox
Lacvox Blog http://www.lacvox.net/
Bases del concurso http://concursolacvox.org/2009/

Acerca de UNICEF
UNICEF trabaja sobre el terreno en más de 150 países y territorios para ayudar a garantizar a los niños y las niñas  el derecho a sobrevivir y a desarrollarse desde la primera infancia hasta la adolescencia. UNICEF es el mayor proveedor de vacunas para los países en desarrollo, trabaja para mejorar la salud y la nutrición de la infancia; el abastecimiento de agua y saneamiento de calidad; la educación básica de calidad para todos los niños y niñas y la protección de los niños y las niñas contra la violencia, la explotación y el VIH/SIDA. UNICEF está financiado en su totalidad por las contribuciones voluntarias de individuos, empresas, fundaciones y gobiernos.

Young people tackle social problems at children’s conference in Syria

July 27, 2009

By Pawel Krzysiek

ALEPPO, Syria, 24 July 2009 – Hiba, 15, calmly scanned the faces of a large audience gathered in Aleppo’s Sheraton Hotel, expressing her conclusions with a striking level of self-confidence and maturity.

“We came here to raise our voice,” she said afterwards. “We waited a long time for this moment and, believe me, we came well prepared.”

The Fifth International Conference on Children and Youth in Middle East and North Africa Cities brought together more than 100 adolescents here earlier this month. Encouraging young people to participate in society is a key element of the UNICEF Adolescents Development and Participation (ADAP) programme.

Young people have their say

“Our goal was to reach the highest level of youth participation through direct interactions with the country’s decision-makers,” said ADAP Programme Officer Mohamed Kanawati. “We are here to ensure that adolescents have their say.”

The Aleppo conference, held by the Arab Urban Development Institute, gave Syrian young people a chance to voice their concerns directly to top-level government officials. “We want our voice to reach the government and the government to reach us,” said Sarin, 17.

“The idea is clear: Youth problems in Syria are equally urgent whether you are from Deir Ezzour, Latakia or the Palestinian camp in Neirab,” said Firas Shehabi, the Adolescent Project Manager at the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).

A chance to discuss

Adolescents at the conference raised important issues related to education, the labour market and the role of the state in dealing with young people. Among the topics they discussed were:

  • Employment and unemployment among young people
  • Vocational training and skills required by the labour market
  • The transition from school to work
  • Gender issues
  • Social barriers and other obstacles affecting vulnerable urban youth
  • Activation of youth-oriented programs and policies in the region’s municipalities.

With the support of focus group facilitators from UNICEF, the Youth Union, the Syrian Commission for Family Affairs and UNRWA, the discussions touched upon sensitive aspects of Syrian society.

“We live in the culture of bans, imperatives and intimidation: ‘Don’t go out, don’t be late, study hard to find a good job’ and, more importantly, ‘get married like your sisters!’ What about our development, the right to choose our future, the need to grow up when all that we desire is forbidden?” asked Hiba.

“There is no doubt social pressure is the main source of youth problems in Arab cultures,” said Lina Yunis, the facilitator from the Youth Union, which works with UNICEF in ADAP activities. “Our responsibility, as youth institutions, is to assure the adolescents that they are an important part of the country’s development,” she added.

Reaching policy-makers

UNICEF actively supports a network of youth service providers such as the Youth Union, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and UNRWA, in the development of new strategies for youth development and participation.

“Through an ‘evidence-based’ strategy, we aim to reach and influence the potential youth policy-makers,” said Mr. Kanawati of UNICEF. “We aim to develop new services in working with adolescents and to spread a culture of participation.”

Syrian adolescents are seizing the opportunity to push their vision of where the country should go.

“I expect to solve the problems that we addressed and implement the solutions that we discussed,” said Amani, 15. “I expect understanding, space for my ideas and mutual respect from the adults dealing with us.”

 

Alfred’s story: Youth journalist reports on early marriage in Southern Sudan

July 27, 2009

JUBA, Southern Sudan, 24 July 2009 – As Alfred Malish, now 14, has grown up, he has noticed an alarming thing happening around him: His female classmates are leaving school early to get married.

Early marriage still happens with some regularity in Sudan, most often for girls, who are sometimes as young as 12 when they’re married off. Marriage at such an early age can be an obstacle to further education; it can also result in complications should the girl become pregnant before her body is adequately developed.

‘People will not like you’

Alfred became aware of the problem after his friend Stella became pregnant at 15.

“I wanted to go to Senior One [class in school] but I’m pregnant, so I can’t go,” Stella tells Alfred in an interview he conducted last month as part of a radio story on the problem of child marriage in Southern Sudan.

In a warning to other girls in similar circumstances, Stella recalls being ostracized by her friends and her community.

“People will not like you, no one will be your friend and you’ll stay alone,” she says, adding: “My sisters, I want to tell you like this. Don’t run to marriage. Don’t attempt to get married at an early age. Giving birth is very difficult.”

Education for a better future

Alfred’s mother believes children should learn from their parents’ mistakes.

“My message to [girls] is they should read, they should study,” she tells Alfred in his radio story. “Because we – the mothers – we did not study or reach a high enough level of education.”

Article 28 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) says children have the right to a quality education and should be encouraged to continue to the highest academic level they can achieve.

It’s a sentiment echoed by the Director-General for Gender and Child Welfare in the Government of Southern Sudan’s Ministry of Gender, Social Welfare and Religious Affairs, Regina Ossa Lullo.

“Girls should get educated,” she tells Alfred. “Once they’ve been educated, we have a better Southern Sudan and a better future for our children.”

The recently passed Child Act in Southern Sudan states that children have the right to be protected from forced marriage. “Early marriage is usually forced, and it’s against the law when a girl is forced,” notes Ms. Ossa Lullo. “Any child who is forced to be married can report to the police.”

Juba radio workshop

In June, Alfred was one of the participants in a week-long radio production workshop for 10 young people from Juba. UNICEF Radio – in partnership with UNICEF’s ‘Back on Track’ programme on Education in Emergencies and Post-Crisis Transition, the UNICEF Southern Sudan Area Programme and Southern Sudan Radio – conducted the workshop with five boys and five girls chosen from local schools.

The young people learned how to record, edit, write and produce a radio report of their own.

Alfred’s piece on early marriage was broadcast on Southern Sudan Radio on 16 June to commemorate the Day of the African Child.

Youth perspectives

UNICEF Radio and the Back on Track programme will conduct a series of similar workshops in other countries in the coming months. Their aim: to bring young people’s perspectives into the debate around education in emergencies and post-crisis situations – and to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the CRC.

Meanwhile, UNICEF’s Southern Sudan Area Programme is working with Southern Sudan Radio to involve the new youth journalists in its programmes, empowering young people by giving them the chance to broadcast their voices throughout the region.

Antiguan school children benefit from positive disciplinary practices being implemented at school

July 24, 2009

14-year-old Glenroy Martin is among the more than 200 students attending the T. N. Kirnon School in Antigua and Barbuda who are now benefiting from the new positive disciplinary procedures being implemented at the school.

This is because since September 2008 the Principal and staff have been embracing the child-friendly school concept being advocated for and supported by the UNICEF Office for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean where the primary focus has been on positive behavioral management with an aim of reducing corporal punishment in schools.

Glenroy, whom some teachers have described as a troublesome student, admitted to frequently being in trouble- having had to be sent often to the Principal’s Office for misbehaving and having received lashes with a belt on occasions for his misbehavior.

Behavioural contract replaces corporal punishment

Today however, instead of receiving lashes Glenroy is benefiting from other options. One such option includes establishing a behaviour contract between himself and the teacher.

This is one of the ways teachers at the T. N. Kirnon School now discipline students, since the implementation of the new behavioural colour wheel that can be seen in every classroom as part of the positive approach to discipline.

The behavioural contract is done with students who like Glenroy – often go on the red and yellow sections of the colour wheel. The teacher sits with the students and tries to find out what is the problem and why the student continually goes on red. Then the student and the teacher develop the contract together and determine what will be the punishment for future misbehaviours.

Glenroy, who has had to develop such a behavioural contract with one of his teachers, said that he prefers this system to lashes.

“Lashes wear off.” He said. “And you will do the same thing over and over again,” he added.

According to him, the colour wheel is a good idea because it gives the teacher “other things that they can do when children misbehave. Before “they just use to say stop and nothing would happened.”

Reward System encourages good behaviour

The colour wheel is also complimented by a rewards system which is part of this new positive approach to discipline to help boost students’ self esteem.

For the two weeks that he was on his behavioural contract, Glenroy received certificates for his good behaviour and he admitted that is felt “really good,” especially as it made his Mom “very proud.”

But while he perceives the changes as good, Glenroy also realizes that changing one’s individual behavior is a process and will not happen overnight. He admitted that after two weeks of good behaviour he got into trouble for “answering back a teacher”.

He recognizes as well that for his peers the change will have to happen over time as some of them are still “behaving badly.”

According to him, “in addition to the colour wheel and the other positive approaches being used”, it is also necessary to show his peers “what life is like without education.”

They need to see that they can end up “on the streets or in jail,” he said. “This too will help them to change.”

‘Junior 8’ youth delegates present views to G8 world leaders in Italy

July 13, 2009

By Thomas Nybo

L’AQUILA, Italy, 9 July 2009 – A select group of 14 young people have met with top leaders at the G8 Summit here yesterday and urged them to act on a set of recommendations aimed at protecting child rights around the world.

The youth delegates were selected by their peers at this week’s ‘Junior 8’ Summit in Rome – also known as the J8 – to present a declaration to the G8 world leaders.

Future leaders speak out
“We, the participants of the Junior 8 Summit 2009 have come together in Rome, Italy, to propose immediate action from our leaders,” read the declaration. “We invite them to listen to the young people and take our proposals seriously.

“As young people, we are the leaders of the future, and therefore will be the most affected by your decisions made today. We believe that collaboration between adults and young people is the best way to grant a better future for the upcoming generation.”

The J8 Rome Declaration focused on four key areas: children’s rights in the context of the global financial crisis; climate change; poverty and development in Africa; and education.

J8 demands action
The youth delegates in L’Aquila, who represented 14 different countries, each had a private discussion with the leader of his or her nation.

At a news conference following the meeting, Moeko Fuji, 16, of Japan spoke about her conversation with Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso. “What I told my prime minister is that we, the J8 community, address many problems,” she said. “It’s good to say we need to address these problems, but what we really need is action!”

Nigel Woodrich of Canada, also 16, used his time with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to focus on Africa. “I told him that we need to treat Africa as equal partners on the world stage so that they will be no longer dependent on foreign aid,” Nigel said at the news conference.

‘We are all one community’
South African President Jacob Zuma had a lively conversation with J8 participant Richmond Sajini, 15.

“He thanked me that I was able to come here and lift the name of our country high,” said Richmond. “I had to explain to him that there are no borders here. We are all one community and we aren’t bound to each other by our countries.”

The 14 young people at the G8 meeting were part of a larger group of 54 that spent the week in Rome, assembling their declaration. Participants in this year’s J8 Summit represented Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Troubled young people get a second chance in Guyana

July 13, 2009

By Carina Olthof and Leslyn Thompson

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, 9 July 2009 – Carletta is just 16, but she has already confronted many challenges and brutalities in life. She ran away from home several times and became involved in dangerous activities. Eventually, her father, a single parent, realized he was no longer able to cope with her behaviour.

A year ago, Carletta’s father requested that police officers place her in a juvenile rehabilitation centre – the New Opportunity Corps (NOC).

New beginnings
Since her admittance, Carletta has become immersed in a new life at NOC. She plays games and sports with friends in the yard and learns practical skills that will make her more employable after leaving the centre.

But Carletta still faces challenges, such as her uncertainty about mending her relationship with her family.

“I didn’t hear from my father, my mother, no one, for the whole year I have been here at NOC,” she says. “Many nights I lay in bed wondering if my father is still working or if he is still alive.”

‘A better life for myself’
Carletta is one of 62 students who are scheduled to be released from NOC in October. The first thing she plans to do is apologize to her father, but because she is so ashamed of her behaviour, she plans to live with her mother instead.

And Carletta is determined to improve her prospects in life, which she plans to do by enrolling in school.

“I want to learn more and go to computer classes,” she says. “I really want to make a better life for myself, and now that I spent some time here, I know just how to do that.”

Improving juvenile justice
The UNICEF-supported integration programme at NOC will guide Carletta through the process of re-uniting with her parents and reintegrating into her community. Though she remains haunted by her past, she feels her experiences have helped her to become the mature teenager she is today – and she is grateful to have a second chance.

Carletta’s story highlights one facet of UNICEF’s ongoing efforts to support a humane juvenile justice system in Guyana. UNICEF aims to ensure that by 2010, in accordance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, there is a system in place that ensures protection for children who are witnesses to crime, and fair treatment for those in conflict with the law.

Article 40 of the Convention states that children who are accused of breaking the law have the right to legal counsel and fair treatment in a justice system that respects their rights.

To this end, UNICEF Guyana has helped with institutional and legal reform (notably, the Juvenile Justice Bill of 2008) and has supported access to quality social services for at-risk youth, including health education, psycho-social support and legal aid.

UNICEF also actively promotes the use of alternatives to sentencing, such as community service work, skills training and participation in sport-for-development activities.

Junior 8: Climate change targets must be met, teachers’ standards improved

July 9, 2009

ROME, L’AQUILA, July 9 2009 – Fourteen young people from countries attending the G8 today called on their respective leaders to get tough with countries who don’t meet climate change targets and teachers whose standards slip.

  

At the meeting, the J8 representatives presented these recommendations and others for the 14 leaders attending the G8. 

 

The young people were chosen by their peers to represent the UNICEF Junior 8 (J8). One young person represented each of the G8 countries and non-G8 countries invited to L’Aquila – Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Mexico and South Africa.   In all there were 54 young delegates aged 14 to 17.

 

The young people told the leaders they want high quality post- primary education for all children and a safe trip to school.

 

‘If I could ask the world’s leaders to prioritize one thing to help children, it would be education,” said Sanjukta Pangi, 16. “I had to struggle to go to school. If I hadn’t convinced my father to let me continue going to school I would not be at the J8.”

 

Leaders were told to invest more in renewable energy and collectively sign a meaningful Copenhagen agreement that emphasizes participation of young people in climate change action.

 

To help address the issue of development in Africa, they proposed a specific ‘End Poverty Bond’ to underwrite new businesses.

 

The young people expressed great concern about the impact of the financial crisis on their lives.

 

‘We did not create this crisis, but it will affect us the most and we resent it. We hope the leaders will listen to what we said and act now,” said Emmanuella Louidsor, 17.

 

###

To read more about J8 2009 globally, and read this year’s and previous declarations, please visit:   www.j8summit.com.  The young people meeting the leaders are:

Brazil: Mayara Tavares, 17   -  Canada: Nigel Wodrich, 16  China: Li Mengyuan, 16  -  Egypt: Amira Shendy, 16  France: Pauline Bossavie, 17  -  Germany: Johanna Elter, 17  -  India : Sanjukta Pangi,16  -  Italy: Camilla Grassi, 14  -  Japan: Moeko Fuji, 16, Mexico: Mario Alberto Martinez Fuentes, 17  -  Russia: Anzhelka Mikhailovna Asaeva, 17  -  South Africa: Richmond Sajini, 15  -   United Kingdom : Mellika Myers, 16  -  United States: Emmanuella Louidsor, 17

 

The Junior 8 Summit aims to make sure the G8 and non-G8 leaders listen to young people’s voices when they make decisions that affect them. The 2009 session has been organized thanks to the collaboration between UNICEF and the Office of the Prime Minister, the Office of the Sherpa, the Department of Civil Protection, the Ministry of the Interior and the Departments of the Firefighters, Public Emergencies, Civil Defence and the Minister of Youth, the Ministry of Education and the City of Rome.  The Italian Firefighters have been UNICEF Goodwill Ambassadors for over 20 years and will escort the young people during the J8 summit.

Note to journalists: 

B-roll of the youth participants activities during the J8 summit will be prepared and distributed through http://www.thenewsmarket.com/unicef

For additional information and to interview young people, please contact:

Kate Donovan, UNICEF Media, + 39 328 6059213 or +1 917 378 2128 e-mail: kdonovan@unicef.org
Stephen Pattison, UNICEF Media, +39 328 6059142 email:
stephenp@unicef.org.uk

Elke Holderbeke, UNICEF Media, +39 328 604 9534 email: eholderbeke@unicef.org

Italian National Committee press office   +39 06 47809 226 or 06 47809 233
Luca Cappelletti, Italian Nat Comm press officer:  Cell:  +39 3357275877  e-mail: press@unicef.org

Voto en Blanco

July 3, 2009

Por Andrea Arzaba

 

Muchos la han calificado como una campaña de gente incoherente y ofensiva que quiere dar un fin a la “democracia” que vivimos de una manera radical, muchos otros se refieren a ella como una polémica nueva en donde el pueblo demuestra sus impresiones ante la inconformidad de sus próximos representantes, de una manera diferente. Pero ¿De que trata la campaña del voto en blanco? Muy simple, a la hora de votar se tacha toda la planilla, cancelando el voto por algún candidato en particular.

Es erróneo pensar que al votar en blanco se apoya a la abstención puesto que al anular el voto aún se sigue participando y existe la obligación de ir a las urnas, pedir una planilla y la única diferencia es que en lugar de elegir a un candidato, se tachan todas las opciones. De ésta manera, los ciudadanos muestran su descontento ante la democracia que se vive en el presente en México, y al mismo tiempo en muchos otros países del mundo.

El voto en blanco incita a las autoridades a cambiar de actitud ya que el pueblo se manifiesta mostrando una inconformidad ante la forma de gobierno existente.  De esta manera, se reclama una nación que busca una representación justa, que quiere dejar atrás a las viejas generaciones conformistas y llenas de corrupción. Muchos jóvenes han decidido apoyar ésta nueva propuesta, ya que posiblemente desde este punto podamos comenzar con un nuevo partido político, una esperanza latente para las nuevas generaciones.

Más de 300 estudiantes argentinos se reunieron con líderes indígenas

July 3, 2009

Buenos Aires, junio de 2009.- “¿Y cómo hacen para llevar el bebé en la espalda?”. “Ajá! Es una muy buena pregunta. Las mujeres Kollas somos especialistas: doblamos el guayo así, ponemos al niño dentro, le damos una vuelta y lo cargamos. Y así el niño crece junto a la mamá y si llora, lo giramos y enseguida lo ponemos al pecho”.

El que pregunta es Matías, 11 años, uno de los chicos de quinto grado de la Escuela Número 8 de La Plata. Y la que responde es María Ochoa, de la comunidad Kolla- Quechua, una de las organizadoras del primer encuentro entre estudiantes de escuelas públicas platenses y líderes indígenas de los pueblos Kolla, Toba, Guaraní y Mapuche.

Más de 300 estudiantes de La Plata de entre 11 y 14 años, se acercaron al Centro Cultural Malvinas Argentinas y compartieron toda una mañana de música, películas y charla con María Ochoa, Kolla- Quechua; Sergio Marihuan, Mapuche; Silverio González, Com- Toba; y Asunción Isidora Aguirre, Cacique de la Nación Guaraní.

El objetivo del encuentro, que se llevó adelante con el apoyo de UNICEF Argentina, fue establecer un puente intercultural entre las comunidades y los chicos que suelen conocer muy poco de los pueblos originarios que habitan en el país, pese a que en la mayoría de los casos tienen ascendencia indígena entre sus familiares directos.

Argentina tiene una población indígena de más de 3 millones de personas que provienen de 35 pueblos originarios que luchan por mantener la lengua materna y sus costumbres ancestrales. “Es muy importante conocer y difundir estas lenguas porque muchas de ellas se están perdiendo”, advirtió Elena Duro, especialista en educación de UNICEF.
Duro abrió la jornada de trabajo junto a Mauricio Castro, en representación del intendente de La Plata, Pablo Bruera. Castro destacó que el intercambio entre los niños y los líderes indígenas contribuye a expandir la tolerancia y la igualdad entre los pueblos, “algo muy necesario en el país”.

Si bien las escuelas públicas tienen una matrícula integrada con chicos indígenas, la discriminación es muy fuerte, sobre todo entre los y las adolescentes.

“Estos encuentros son importantes para difundir nuestra cultura y que los chicos reconozcan su propia identidad que no pasa por el DNI, sino por sus raíces”, explicó María Ochoa, una de las impulsoras de la jornada y fundadora de una organización de mujeres indígenas que difunden la historia y la cosmovisión de los pueblos originarios y les enseñan a las nuevas generaciones a tejer, a cocinar, a curar con hierbas medicinales, a tocar los instrumentos que tocaban los abuelos y las abuelas.

LO QUE CUENTAN LOS SABIOS.

Los primeros en contar quiénes son y de dónde vienen fueron los Mapuches. Sergio Marihuan saludó a los chicos en mapudungun, la lengua que le enseñaron sus padres, y extendió una bandera llena de dibujos y colores: el azul representa el mar y el cielo; el amarillo, el sol; el verde, la tierra fértil y las plantas; el rojo la sangre mapuche; y el blanco, “Huinca”, la luna.

“Estos picos simbolizan las montañas porque los Mapuches venimos de la Patagonia”, dijo Sergio Marihuan y señaló unos triángulos bordados en un abrigo de lana gruesa. Y contó que su pueblo está lleno de músicos como él, que tocan instrumentos que hacen ellos mismos como el cultrum, la pifilka y el trompe, una suerte de caja pequeña con cuerdas que los enamorados sólo tocan para sus novias.
Le siguió Silverino González, de la comunidad Com- Toba. “Nosotros venimos del Chaco, del monte, donde sólo se escuchan los pájaros”, contó Silverino y comentó que la mayoría de los Toba eran nómades, que se alimentaban de las recolección de frutos y que hablaban en dialectos propios que se fueron perdiendo con el tiempo. Silverino tenía hinchada propia: muchos de los chicos que lo escuchaban viven en el barrio Toba y son vecinos suyos o de sus hijos o de sus tías, primos y abuelos que hace años se instalaron sobre la calle 151.

Los Toba son muchos en La Plata pero los más numerosos son los Querandíes, según explicó la cacique Asunción Isidora Aguirre. “Todas las personas que nacieron en la Provincia de Buenos Aires son Querandíes, porque éste es territorio Querandí, y su lengua originaria es el guaraní”, dijo Asunción Isidora, descendiente de Rosa Aguirre “la mujer que amantó al General San Martín”.

La última en presentarse, antes del almuerzo, fue María Ochoa, con el guayo en la espalda como todas las mujeres Kolla. María contó que su pueblo se extendió por Ecuador, Bolivia, Perú, Chile, Argentina y una pequeña parte de Brasil. “El principio fundamental que rige en nuestra cultura es la energía que proviene del Sol y de la Pachamama, que es la madre tierra”, contó antes de mostrar su guayo y de que Martín le preguntara cómo hacían las mujeres para llevar a los niños en la espalda.

Los chicos aprovecharon el almuerzo para salir al patio: el Centro Cultural Malvinas Argentinas tiene un patio central con un mástil para izar la bandera de ceremonias y algunos bancos que ocuparon enseguida.

Evelyn tiene 14 años y se juntó con algunas compañeras para comer en ronda. Nació en el Chaco, pero se mudó a La Plata a los 7 y afirmó que mucho no se acuerda de cómo era vivir allá. Lo más difícil de ser quien es, dice, es que algunos chicos la discriminan “por el color de la piel”. “Me dicen boliviana y la verdad es que me molesta, porque yo soy Toba”, contó. ¿Y qué haces cuando te dicen eso? “Les contestó quien soy”.

José también vive en el barrio Toba y tampoco se acuerda mucho del Chaco. Pero su tía Carmen le canta en dialecto Com y cada tanto, le prepara tortas de maíz a la parrilla y le cuenta que cuando era chica el jabón en polvo no existía y las mujeres lavaban la ropa en el río y tejían en los telares las historias del pueblo. “A veces no me creen -aseguró Carmen-. Los chicos no se imaginan como puede cocinarse con leña y barro o armar colchones con paja”.

José viajó un par de veces al monte porque allá tiene varios familiares que de a poco, están migrando a La Plata en busca de trabajo. “¿Lo que más me gusta de allá? Los choclos –dice-. Son los choclos más ricos que probé en mi vida”.

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