Conscious of the social and ecological crisis in which the planet finds itself, with the western model of development presented as the only model to follow, provoking great environmental damage as a result of the exploitation of natural resources and again the social inequality produced by this, we consider to be important the promotion of processes of local autogestion and self-help, based on the premises of the affected population.
Many of the intents of cooperation for development establish, once again, big differences. There is a tendency of trying to resolve local problems with external solutions, this way creating a greater dependency instead of autonomy and self-sufficiency. Facing the challenges of modern society, we find it important that the different groups of people can develop themselves in their own manner, being creative. This brings with it an improvement of living standards for the human beings, and at the same time respect for the natural resources.
Because of the mentioned factors we have decided to participate actively in the motivation and the facilitation of processes that generate a feeling of appropriation and self-esteem. In addition we provide local communities on the search for sustainable alternatives to cover their daily needs with hands-on tools. This gives these groups the possibility of creating a life according to their social, cultural and environmental reality, allowing them to reach high levels of self-sufficiency, strengthen the feeling of community and empower them to take direct action in their own development from an integral and sustainable perspective.
Among the processes of autogestion in which we have been involved, we can mention the following:
- The Darién Foundation, an environmental ONG that works for the protection of natural resources and the search of sustainable alternative production methods, in one of the regions with the greatest biodiversity on the planet, in the humid rainforest of Darién, Chocó, Colombia. CTW contributed financially when the land was purchased in order to extend the Integral Reserve of Sasardí and prevent the devastation of this piece of tropical rainforest. We have contributed to the organization and coordination of various international camps for voluntary workers, as well as with resources, links and contacts which have given a more solid base to several of this entitys projects.
- At ASOMUCAF (the Association of Women Heads of Family) we have been involved with their project at Nashira Ecovillage, a proposal which has been elaborated by a decided group of women together with their families. In order to create an integral ecovillage, pioneer project in Colombia when it comes to taking up the fight on poverty. CTW has supported this group with training and management and some pilot-projects related to the use of appropriated technologies, such as setting up compost toilets, solar oven and parabol for cooking, building with guadua (bamboo) and with recycled materials, exchanging experiences during the visit of 80 persons from Nashira to the Small Farm of Mamá Lulú as a source of inspiration and practical knowledge. We have received financial support for several of these projects from the French electricity-workers union CCAS, through cooperation with the French entity Passport Pluriel.
- The Association of Solar Crafts Women Group of Villaseca, a group of women who have established a Solar Restaurant in the Elqui Valley, in the north of Chile. CTW has been able to facilitate the travel of a representative from the Solar Restaurant to Colombia as part of a South/South exchange with the women of Nashira. Practical aspects in the area of solar energy for cooking, recycling and producing among other things handmade paper were some of the subjects of exchange between the representatives from these grass-root organizations. This dialogue of knowledge is of significant importance in the process of autogestion, strengthening the social process of change. We hope being able to continue facilitating such exchanges.
- Rural Mixed School of San Francisco de Asis, situated in the municipal area of Acandí, department of Chocó, Colombia. CTW facilitated an entire process of sensitization and learning on the subject of tolerance with children from the Primary School of Hovik Verk in Baerum, Norway, establishing a relation of friendship between children from both schools through drawings and letters. These activities generated the desire of the Norwegian children to organize an event of solidarity, in which they sold some of their own toys and games. This way, they could send money to their Colombian friends whom were able to buy didactic and musical material as well as sports equipment. This kind of integral actions creates deep laces of friendship and respect towards other ways of living, at the same time it gives an impulse to the organizational and autogestional processes within the local community.
Apart from these hands-on examples of support, we have also shared our contacts and lobbied for other entities to establish within our international network with various entities.
We have decided that our institutional strategy will be based on the establishment of several Inspirational Demonstration Centers of Sustainable Development, both in Latin America and in Europe, together with local partners and strategic alliances. At the moment, we are working on projects for the establishment of such centers in Norway, Chile and Colombia. Through these living and learning centers, we hope to be able to continue contributing to new innovative and integral experiences of autogestion and sustainability.