Illustrated Learning in Apetina, Suriname

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In September and October 2016, The Amazon Conservation Team (ACT) enabled the indigenous community of the rainforest village of Apetina to create six educational murals on the back walls of their local elementary school. Through these murals, ACT seeks to encourage additional local students to complete their village schooling.  The Wayana residents of the village, located on the banks of the Tapahony River, have partnered with ACT staff to protect their traditional culture for nearly two decades.   

The project idea arose after consultation between ACT and the headmaster of Apetina’s Kananoe school, Arnold Arupa.  The initiative commenced on September 29, 2016, when the Paramaribo artist Omar Kasijo, his assistant Sherena Kasijo and the ACT project coordinator Sahieda Joemratie arrived in Apetina by charter plane with all the materials needed for the murals, sponsored by ACT.

Using a design template from Mr. Kasijo, seven Wayana children helped to enliven Kananoe’s walls with colorful imagery incorporating local biodiversity images and motifs. Each day over a week, they were visited by village members including relatives and local leaders, who also helped paint one of the murals, leaving the evidence of their handprints representing leaves on a tree. The latter painting is on proud display in the sixth grade class of Kananoe.

Community reaction to the paintings and the process has been very positive. Per headmaster Arupa: "Everybody likes it, and it's a pleasure to take so much care of our local classrooms, and for the kids to be educated in such an environment. It fits into the idea of a learning-friendly environment."

By Sahieda Joemratie, ACT consultant. Dutch version here: link

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