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Sindy Cerda has 29 years old, belongs to the Kichwa nationality and represents Fonaquise, from the Limoncocha community. She is one of the 48 students of the Program of Certification on Climate Change and Sustainability, a costume-made course developed by Hivos, COICA and the Universidad Andina Simón Bolívarm with the support of the Swedish Lottery, for the formation of social and environmental leaders.

The program, of 9 months of duration, is on its final stage. For the last module, the students met in Quito, Ecuador for an extensive agenda starting with classes in the Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar and followed by a trio to Puyo, in the Ecuadorian Amazon, for a workshop led by COICA and a COP model, organized by HIvos. During their visit, we got to met most of the students, young indigenous leaders from 16 different peoples and nationalities of the Ecuadorian and Peruvian Amazon with big hopes and dreams to improve the quality of life of their communities and territories. 

Sindy couldn´t attend neither of these events since the dates coincided with the birth of her fist born, a boy called Eder. Even so, we didn't want to miss the opportunity to talk to her, and get to know her perspective about the course. 

Interview by: Nora Sánchez
*Performed via Skype on Friday, February 28th, 2020

Although you could not be in the meeting in mid-February. How has it been for you to be part of this course? What do you think you learned from it?

Actually, before the course, I had very simple bases. During the course, the modules were very interesting, especially to learn about our biodiversity, our nature, the problems that exist.

It has been very gratifiant. We live certain problems on a daily basis and see it as normal. The fact that they ask us makes us rethink what we live in and say "This is a real problem!" For example, the case of gender equity in my community.

What do you mean by “gender equity issue” in your community? Why is gender approach important to you?

Because in my community there is a lot of machismo, women are not taken into account as in the communities of my classmates.

My classmates would say "women are fighters, women are leaders" and in my community that’s not true. I had to say what I think. In my community, women can be part of the community as long as they get married. We do not have the right either to territory, or power of choice within the organization, that part should change in my community. So that would be my constant goal, to create a women's association so that we can be taken into account within the organization.

I love that, would you say that is the plan you have for your community?

Yes, that is my plan. I’m part of a group of girls who grew up in the community; we know the territories, we walked for the mingas, we helped to provide the chicha and when we are adults they tell us that we have no right to a piece of land. That is frustrating!

Totally. And how do you think that including women would help your community?

The fact that we generate entrepreneurship and that we include women, so we can hold managerial positions (for example, being president of the community), would give women more opportunities to have our own things: something to think about, someone to fight for. 

I want women to be empowered, that we can have our own things and say this is ours!

How did the course has help you in achieving those plans?

In letting us see that we have rights, that everything is in our favor. We just have to fight in the bases of our communities.

It has given us the knowledge, strength and ability as new leaders to fight for what we want.

What motivates you? What drives you every day?

Growing professionally. Being a better person every day. Fighting for my community. Finding new projects for my community.

That is what I want, but as I mentioned, what stops me is the fact that we, as women, have no rights within community. If we are not taken into account, there is no way to fight in a process of transformation within my community. There is where my fight is, in being able to change that.

How do you see the world and your community in 10 years?

That we have equality, that women be active participants in the community and that my community has a sustainable development, so that we can live from the nature that surrounds us (the Limoncocha lagoon) without exploiting natural resources. And for the world to change, to have lower pollution levels and help reduce climate change.

And in that world, where do you see yourself? From here in 5-10 years? What would you like to be doing?

I have had the goal of entering the political front and helping from a political position. Be the first president of my parish and show that women can.

Everyone tells me: "you should aim for more." Yes, but I want to start there, working from my community, as part of a directive. I think it would give me the possibility to open new paths for women and work from that base.

Do you think the course brought you closer to that goal?

Yes, with new knowledge. I have more tools to use in my everyday life, at work, in the community, everywhere. I believe that the greatest power is knowledge, so I am very grateful for the knowledge that this course has imparted to us.

As young people we have to continue being part of these courses, trainings, where things that happen outside our communities, help us fight within them.

What did you like most about the course?

The themes of the forums. I learned a lot by listening or reading what others write. It made me contrast my reality with that of others.

Some final words?

Simply that women can.

I loved meeting and chatting with you. I think we need more women like you with that desire that you have to change things. Little by little we can get those changes as you say, from the inside, from our community out, to change the entire world.

Thank you for giving you the time to talk with me.