We recently had the privilege of meeting with Penti Baihua, an indigenous community leader from the Ecuadoran Amazon, when he visited our office (see photo). We exchanged contact cards with Penti, and he told us why his card features a picture of an aguila arpia, a harpy eagle. The harpy eagle builds its nest high in the trees of the rainforest, he said, and creates an extensive protected area around the nest. The parents then fly long distances to hunt outside this safe zone and carry the food back to the nest. Their purpose, Penti explained, is to ensure a sustainable future for their young. Penti and his community view the harpy eagle as symbolic of their own desires for a sustainable future in the rainforest.
After hearing Penti’s story, we shared with him the significance of the photos on our Muste Institute contact cards. In one image, a Mapuche woman leader from Argentina speaks about indigenous rights at the closing rally of the Americas Social Forum in Guatemala. In another, a group of Israeli and international activists pull a concrete barricade away from a Palestinian road. In the third, a South Asian activist in New York speaks at a demonstration in defense of immigrant rights. All three of these actions were supported by the Muste Institute, thanks to your contributions.
Penti has taken these images, and the stories behind them, back home with him as he continues to demand that indigenous communities have a say in how the rainforest is protected. And we hope you will share Penti’s story, and those of our other grantees and sponsored projects, with your friends and colleagues to encourage them to support all of this important work.
Jeanne Strole and Jane Guskin
Penti Baihua speaks, listens and asks questions at an event organized by the government of Ecuador in conjunction with the Eighth Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, held May 18-29, 2009 in New York City. Penti represents Ome Gompote Kiwigimoni Huaorani (We Defend Our Huaorani Territory), a grassroots effort based in the Huaorani communities of Bameno, Bowanamo and Gabaro in the Yasuní Biosphere Reserve, in the Amazon region of Ecuador. In addition to defending their own territory, the members of Ome Gompote speak out for the rights of “uncontacted” peoples— indigenous communities which have chosen to avoid all interaction with outsiders—to maintain their traditional way of life in the Yasuní area. With a $1,500 grant from the Muste Institute’s NOVA Fund, Penti was able to come to New York to confront officials from governments, international financial institutions and UN agencies about their plans affecting the ancestral lands of the Huaorani communities. Penti also traveled to Washington DC for followup meetings and met with supporters in New Jersey who organized a bake sale that raised $1,300 for Ome Gompote.
Over the years, we haven’t published much in Muste Notes about the Institute’s staff. Our focus is always on the many exciting projects sustained through our grantmaking, fiscal sponsorship and building programs, all made possible by your contributions. But at the urging of some of our supporters, we’ve decided to share with you the faces that bring this great program work to life every day
Like our Board of Directors, the Muste Institute office staff is made up of activists who share a lifelong commitment to social justice.
Jeanne Strole was in high school on Long Island when she first joined up there with Peacesmiths, a nonviolence and social justice group led by the late Susan Blake. She later moved to New York City and became involved in Indymedia, a grassroots journalism collective. When Jeanne joined the Muste Institute staff in 2003 she brought a diverse work history in media, graphic design and art. Jeanne is also a skilled artist and continues to be involved in activist projects in addition to her work at the Muste Institute.
Jane Guskin became active in social justice efforts after a trip to Nicaragua in 1988. In 1990, after moving to New York City, she joined the Nicaragua Solidarity Network, a Muste Institute sponsored project and tenant group, where she began editing newsletters on Latin America and immigration issues. Jane joined the Muste Institute staff in 1993. She also writes, edits, plays music and engages in activism. Jane is co-author of The Politics of Immigration: Questions and Answers, published in 2007 by Monthly Review Press.
The Muste Institute has developed personnel policies that encourage staff to stay and grow with the Institute; we believe these policies strengthen the organization and create continuity and efficiency for our programs and our donors. While some organizations hire and train new employees every few years, the Muste Institute staff and board can focus their energy on promoting the Muste Institute and developing its programs.
Now that you’ve met the people who make it all happen, we hope you’ll renew your support for our important work! Donate online now.
With the generous support of an anonymous donor, the Muste Institute was able to make a $2,000 grant in April to Gush Shalom (the name means “Peace Bloc” in Hebrew), based in Tel Aviv, Israel.
For more than 15 years Gush Shalom has worked to influence Israeli public opinion toward an end to the occupation and support for the Palestinian people’s right to establish an independent sovereign state along the 1967 “green line.” The Muste Institute supported Gush Shalom with a grant from our general fund in 1993, the year the group was founded, and again in 2004.
The Muste Institute has restored two cycles of general social justice grantmaking for the coming year; application deadlines will be in October 2009 and April 2010. Applicants are asked to check our website after August 15, 2009 for deadline dates and revised guidelines. We've had to reduce this fund for economic reasons, so if you value the activist projects it supports and want to help us make it stronger, please donate today.
Encouraged by a $20,000 grant from the Appleton Foundation, the Muste Institute’s NOVA Travel Fund reached out in March to indigenous women from throughout the hemisphere who were invited to participate in the 1st Continental Summit of Indigenous Women of Abya Yala and the 4th Continental Summit of Indigenous Peoples and Nationalities of Abya Yala, held May 27-31 in Puno, Peru. After reviewing some three dozen applications received for our April 1 deadline, we made nearly $25,000 in grants to 23 groups for indigenous women’s travel to the summits:
Articulação dos Povos Indígenas do Brasil (APIB, Network of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil), Brasilia, Brazil: $1,250 for Maria da Conceição Alves Feitosa to represent APIB at the summits in Puno.
Asociación para el Desarrollo Integral de Guatemala Maya, Ajsamajel Winaq, ASODIGUA (Association for the Integral Development of Mayan Guatemala), Sololá, Guatemala: $1,106.80 for Vilma Leticia Tuy Jiatz to represent ASODIGUA at the summits. www.asodigua.wordpress.com
Asociación Indigena Lafkenche (Lafquenche Indigenous Association), Temuco, Chile: $1,500 for a collective trip of women members of Asociación Indígena Lafquenche to participate in the summits.
Asociacion de Mujeres Waorani de la Amazonia Ecuatoriana, AMWAE (Waorani Women of the Ecuadorian Amazon Asociation), Puyo, Pastaza, Ecuador: $541.84 for Carlota Aca Toca Naaca to travel to Puno.
Asociación Multiétnica de Mujeres Xna Ixim, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala: $1,500 for Bertha Elvira Tuy Joj and María Concepción Tale Tacam to participate in the summits.
Centro Ecuatoriano de Promoción y Acción de la Mujer, CEPAM (Center for Women’s Promotion and Action), Quito, Ecuador: $814.16 for Ana Lucia Tambaco Guamán to travel with her 11-month-old son to participate in the summits. www.cepamquito.org
Centro Mesoamericano para la Acción Sostenible en Derechos Humanos “CEMAS” (Mesoamerican Center for Sustainable Action in Human Rights), Guatemala, Guatemala: $1,075.80 for Luisa Angelina Tzul Tzoc to participate in the summits.
Comité Pro Mejoras Pasto Calle (Committee for Improvements to Pasto Calle), Latacunga, Cotopaxi, Ecuador: $1,067.68 for Maria Concepcion Pila Pila and Blanca Yolanda Tigasi Pila to represent this group at the summits.
Comunidad Charrúa Basquadé Inchalá, Montevideo, Uruguay: $1,500 for Stella Maris Vidal Loureiro, Evelyn Baldassari Leguizamo and Mónica Michelena Díaz to participate in the women's summit, and for youth representative Martín Delgado Cultelli to participate in the concurrent 1st Continental Summit of Indigenous Children and Youth of Abya Yala.
Consejo de Ayllus y Markas Qullanas CONAMAQ La Paz, “Nación Qhapaq Umasuyu”, (La Paz, Bolivia: $300 for nine indigenous women community leaders to participate in the summits.
Consejo Indígena del Sur, CONISUR (Indigenous Council of the South), Villa Nueva, Guatemala: $1,500 for María Magdalena Ixcot Quiche and Olga Maritza Reyes Chinchilla to participate in the summits.
Consejo de Mujeres Indígenas Nahuat (Council of Indigenous Women-Rivas, Nicaragua), Rivas, Nicaragua: $860.50 forYesenia Patricia Mendoza Guzmán to participate in the summits.
Consejo Nacional Indígena - MONEXICO, Nicaragua (National Indigenous Council), Managua, Nicaragua: $880.50 for Idalia Duartes García to participate in the summits.
Coordinadora Nacional de Comunidades del Perú Afectadas por la Minería - CONACAMI Perú (National Coordination of Peruvian Communities Affected by Mining): $1,500 for 20 women from four departments of Peru to travel together by land to the summits. www.conacami.org
Coordinadora Nacional de Mujeres Indígenas de Panamá, CONAMUIP (National Coordination of Indigenous Women of Panama), Panama City, Panama: $713.76 for Eladia Carpintero to participate in the summits. www.conamuip.org
Coordinadora Nacional de Organizaciones de Mujeres Trabajadoras Rurales e Indígenas – CONAMURI (National Coordination of Rural and Indigenous Working Women's Organizations), Asunción, Paraguay: $609.23 for Hilaria Cruzabie to participate in the summits. www.conamuri.org.py
Frente de Lucha Mapuche y Campesino (Front of Mapuche and Campesino Struggle), Esquel, Chubut, Argentina: $1,122 for Clara Romero to participate in the summits.
Fundación para el Desarrollo Integral del Hombre y su Entorno “CALMECAC” (Foundation for the Integral Development of Man and his Environment), Guatemala, Guatemala: $1,156.58 for Zonia Estela Zacarías Citalán to participate in the summits. www.calmecacguate.org
Grupo de Mujeres Mayas Kaqla (Group of Kaqla Mayan Women), Guatemala, Guatemala: $1,106.80 for Carmen Victoria Alvarez Medrano to participate in the summits.
Movimiento de Mujeres Indígenas Tz´ununija´ (Movement of Indigenous Women Our Voice), Guatemala, Guatemala: $1,500 for Liria Elizabet Tay Ajquil and Silvia Maribel Tecun León to participate in the summits.
Organização das Mulheres Indígenas de Roraima - OMIR (Indigenous Women’s Organization of Roraima), Boa Vista, Roraima, Brazil: $1,139 for Iranilde Barbosa dos Santos to participate in the summits.
Organización Mapuche Warriache (Warriache Mapuche Organization), Trelew, Chubut, Argentina: $1,500 for Amalia Paillalef and two other Mapuche women activists to participate in the summits.
Red de Mujeres Indígenas y Biodiversidad/RAIS (Network of Indigenous Women and Biodiversity), Panama/El Salvador: $670.70 for Deysi Ester Cierra Anaya to participate in the summits.
Also in the April cycle, we granted $1,000 to Associação de Mulheres Indígenas Pankararu (Pankararu Association of Indigenous Women) of São Paulo, Brazil for Rita Guedes to participate in the International Congress of Traditional Medicine, Interculturality and Mental Health, held June 7-10, 2009 in Tarapoto, Peru.
The NOVA Travel Fund helps grassroots activists from Latin America, the Caribbean and indigenous territories throughout the hemisphere to participate in regional meetings. The next deadlines are August 1 and October 1, 2009. Guidelines are on our website in English at http://ajmuste.org/novaintro-eng.html and in Spanish at http://ajmuste.org/novaintro.html.
The Muste Institute's Counter Recruitment Fund makes small grants for grassroots efforts to inform young people about the realities of military service, help them protect their privacy from recruiters and refer them to non-military education and employment options. Our next deadlines for proposals are July 13 and October 5, 2009. Guidelines are on our website at www.ajmuste.org/counter-recruit.htm
Arise for Social Justice, Springfield, MA: $1,500 to expand peer counseling in high schools and colleges in and around Springfield to educate students about military service and its alternatives. Website: www.angelfire.com/ma4/arise Blog: http://ariseforsocialjustice.blogspot.com
Historic Peace Churches of Columbus, Columbus, OH: $750 for educational activities and distribution of materials about the realities of military service and non-military alternatives to at-risk and under-served youth in central Ohio, and a proposed youth conference aimed at capacity building.
Peace and Justice Center, Burlington, VT: $1,500 to publish a revised booklet on local alternatives to military service and distribute it in high schools throughout Vermont as part of the Recruiting for Peace Campaign. www.pjcvt.org
Washington Area Truth in Recruiting, Bellevue, WA: $1,170 to establish new local counter-recruitment groups in Washington state, particularly in rural communities, and for capacity building to expand peer counseling around the realities of military service. www.watir.org