First Day of School

posted by Ariella Jew on September 11th, 2013

As many of you have heard we are transitioning the focus of our current center outside of Iquitos Peru. In the last 4 years much love has been pored into this land, much healing has taken place and the gardens are really starting to bear fruit in many ways. It is our wish to bring the most benefit possible with this magical place and our vision is to create an alternative school for the local children on the grounds.


This last month we have taken the first steps towards this vision, initiating a pilot collaboration with the local school in the village of Cahuide about 5 km down the road from us. We have been working with this school in the past few years through collaboration with our Cultural Healing Exchange program and over time have developed a beautiful relationship of trust and exchange. We were pleased to find the teachers to be quite enthusiastic about our ideas and eager to start the project. On August 27th we had our first class and where graced by the presence of 14 five year olds who are continuing to return every Tuesday.

A group of dedicated and inspired volunteers and apprentices (Nicky, Renato, Dominique, Jimmy and Ralph) have been initiating the work of designing the curriculum focusing on the basics as any elementary education center should. Realizing the potential of the land we all live close to, and the importance of educating the children on their implications with their immediate environment and the world at large. As the program progresses we are weaving classes based on Permaculture principles, natural foods, art, dance, Yoga and English. In the future we also are inspired to create programs and support groups for young women as well as specific teach-in’s dealing with rites of passage for young men and women.

Below you can enjoy Ralphs inspiring recap of the first class!…

“So, the day came when we meet our children. Jimmy took the van and scooped up two of their teachers, and 14 students, and brought them to the Paititi Institute grounds. Gabicho, our gardian gave the call that they had arrived! I grabbed my camera and told the others, and the last few things were set in motion.


To see a line of children happily walking behind Jimmy, up the path towards us all, was beyond a cinematic experience! They soon made their way to the Big House, and Nicky asked them to politely remove their shoes and follow us upstairs, where there were cushions awaiting them.

Nicky came up with an amazingly simple yet profound story to tell them, really meeting them where they were at in their young process on this planet… She had a two drawings on the board, one labeled ‘Nuestra Casa’ or ‘Our House’ which showed a few of the items in it and people as well. The other drawing to the right was a drawing labeled ‘La Tierra’ or ‘The Earth’ and had rivers and trees and animals and ‘Nuestra Casa’ as well…


She got them to relate the different functions Mama and Papa have in the household, typically, and how these functions also play out with the Earth. She led them along, and showed them that without our mother, we wouldn’t be fed, or cleaned up after, or taken care of at all. Without our father, the same would occur. She showed them that these processes also are intrinsic within the planet!

We were then introduced as part of the family that lives in ‘Nuestra Casa’. First up was Dominique who gave an example of the Earth’s clean up crew using Las Ormigas, or the ants. She showed how they play an essential role in removing the foods that fall to the ground that would otherwise just rot and cause an undesired smell, playfully acting as an ant with giant banana leaf antennae and dancing about!

Renato was then introduced as another family member, to which he used Nicky as his partner in explaining the delicate balance Nature is working with. Renato would use three balls, each one being a different essential function of the Earth. He had Nicky then juggle them all, showing the balance in play. Eventually, he said, “well what happens when one thing is removed,” and then proceeded to knock one of the balls out of the juggling, knocking them all to the floor. The teachers from the school were taking notes as much as the kids were captivated with what was being presented! We were all learning together!


We eventually made our way downstairs and put our shoes back on. The children were then introduced to the different buckets where we put compost, plastics, reusables, and garbage.  After this, Señor Compost emerged! I (Ralph) had a sombrero on, and my hair down (nicky’s suggestion) and led the way in broken Spanish to the compost piles…

Here, I showed the kids (and the teachers) how food wastes, dead plants, and cow manure could make new Earth, that is great food for the plants and trees. The kids were excited to see and feel the heat as it emerged from the pile, as I moved the pitchfork through it, uncovering the internal processes. Renato then explained how the little bugs called microorganisms, broke down the food for us. It was quite wonderful!


We still had a bit of time left before our snack and bebida… so Nicky led us all to the Maloca, where we did some exercises and were shown meditation. “Muy tranquilo,” Nicky explains… and we got to play some music as well. It was wild to see how much fun the kids were having singing songs and being together.

The horn soon blew, as Jimmy had lunch ready! Tacacho and lemonade was served as the kids filed on into the big house. We spent the last few minutes gathering and thanking everyone for spending time with us at Paititi, inviting them all to return again next weeks.

It was quite inspiring to see how much children are receptive to the ways of caring for the Earth. So much potential exists within helping our young friends realize our responsibility on the planet in becoming conscious, one step at a time, of course! It was so much fun, and all of our inner childs were nourished in the process. We all look forward to these amazing changes about to take place!”

At this time as we work with this first class we are continuing to vision further into the best process to grow these program and raise the funds to continue this work. If any of you out there have good resources for funding education programs such as this we would very much appreciate the suggestions and support. We are also receiving work study service volunteers through out the fall who are interested to be involved in furthering this project.