Leaving Friends Behind

Leaving Kwamalasamutu wasn't easy. The place had made such a strong impression on all of us, and in the journey ahead we are once again at the mercy of the rivers. The last few days have been an island of calm in the centre of our journey through Suriname. When working with a new culture you never know what to expect. We had been told that the Trio are a shy people and can sometimes be hard to work with. There is a protocol, a set of rules that we had to observe to work in Kwamala. Our first hurdle was to get the Granman on our side. In this we were greatly helped by Frits van Troon and also the video letter that we brought from Captain and Basha John. More importantly, I think that our own presentation of our work convinced the reluctant Granman to work with us. He told us that he had decided not to work with any more film crews, but made an exception for us when we showed him what we wanted to do on the web. I only hope that we have given a clear enough outline of the needs of the people here. They need their own land, recognised by the government. They need help with the school - exercise books, paper, pens, and planks to make new buildings (see end of entry). They need Frits to keep on working here. The Trio world is changing ...fast. They need guidance to help them to adapt to the outside world, while keeping a strong sense of identity and pride in their culture.

This is a place that is changing and these changes bring tensions. The school is a focus of these tensions. How could it be different? The 'modern' world is built on doubt, scepticism, questioning, and these are the qualities taught in the school... the scientific method. The 'tribal' world is a place of unquestionable certainties. The Granman is the chief, just as surely as the sun will rise in the morning. So the elders are weary of the school. It teaches the young things that the elders will never know and undermines their authority. It makes the young restless and gives them a sense of their own identity and free will, and makes them question the rule of the elders. The elders want development but also they want to stay in control. It is a difficult time ahead for the Trio. They need time and assistance to adjust to the changing world, while keeping in touch with their traditions and their sense of identity.

Our visit here has had a strong effect on the village. Our work, which we showed to the village over a vat of Kasiri last night, has perhaps helped them to see themselves in a new light. Hopefully it has helped to bolster their sense of identity. We were repeatedly told that the Granman never dresses up in his feathers for outsiders, but he did it for us without us even asking. Paul the Maroon teacher also made a point of saying that no crew has ever come to the village and had such a good effect; "this is the first time that it has really worked for everyone in the village ...this is the best chance we've had". It was a strange and wonderful experience putting together the last few days’ diary entries with a group of curious villagers standing behind me looking on in wonder and the words and pictures that we have been sending the world about their lives. It is a humbling feeling, but we all feel we have definitely done something right without even realising how. Last night at the party we were able to pass on a message to Ai-Ai, a Kwamala villager. If you have visited our discussion boards, you may have seen, that we have been getting wonderful messages from Eithne Carlin, an Irish Linguist who has worked in Kwamala. She wrote a message in the Trio's own language (I'm getting there... slowly!) to Ai-Ai, her 'Trio father'. It was mind-blowing to be able to pass this on in front of the entire village gathered in the moonlit square. (see video).

Robert Overeem, our crazy pilot, flew in this morning to pick us up. He flew us to Pelelu Tepu, a smaller Trio/Akurio village on the Tapanahoni River. On the way we flew over the Devil's Egg, Rosevelt piek and the sacred mountain of Kassikassima. It was a spectacular trip that ended with us meeting up with Dyon Smaal, our new guide, who is to take us down the Tapanahony to Dritabiki. Before leaving Kwamala we filmed a message to the Captains here. The first thing we did on arrival was show the captains the footage, and examples of our work in Kwamala. We look forward to spending tomorrow learning about life in Tepu.




Kasi Kasima

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LINKS - Cardytours
LINKS - Unicef Education Report
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