Reflections on Village Life in Uganda or The Inner Dimensions of Climate Change

by Robert Kugonza

“When I try to reflect on the meaning of the Inner Dimensions of Climate Change what comes to mind are the things that are not seen, that are not the most talked about or thought of by our leaders and people. There is something more quiet and under the surface that needs to be brought into the light. Mother Earth is definitely grieving and in her grieving she reacts or retaliates to show us this grief. The floods we see today in places where they never used to occur. Droughts are lasting longer than in the past. Our forefathers — my parents, would tell us exactly the day, in a year, in a month when the rains would come and believe me they would come. Everyone prepared their seeds for planting and the next day everyone would be ready and out in their gardens sowing. I have seen the change in my lifetime. I remember the forests where we once walked to gather dry branches for the fire or the clear running river where we would go to fetch water. I will never forget the sense of community in the sharing of harvests with everyone in the village, where no one would go without squash or pumpkins. There was a harmony that existed in the community that is no longer present.” ~ Robert Kugonza, Uganda

Delegate to COP22 Marrakech, Inner Dimensions of Climate Change gathering

Green hills of Uganda

We were in touch with Robert recently and he wrote us more about life in the village. 

YES, the village indeed,  where harmony still has a place, where care, concern and love for one another still exist. Where respect for elders and good regard for the young ones are values in practice. Where you witness real passion and love in those greeting you. Where even with challenges of poverty, reduced forest cover and climate change and lesser food productivity, people still share the little they have. Where no view is obstructed by walls or enclosures, where sounds and vision travel freely, interaction is easy, even from a reasonable distance without mobile phones people will still call each other – the organic way. The birds sing, the roosters crow and the gentle rustle of the cow, her moos blending with the bleating of the goats and sheep. What harmonized music of nature you can hear.

Visiting with wise elders

Our village is a place where Mother Earth has the liberty to show all the mothered, her ability to love, to care, to provide and to sustain. But increasingly, the new generations do not know how to care for her in return. Unfortunately each passing day, especially for the young ones, they become more intoxicated and fall for the illusion of so called ‘development and modernity’, ways that are not in tandem with living harmoniously with Nature.  It saddens me and my heart bleeds seeing these trends of development and the people who are heartless in their treatment of nature and each other. All of these conditions led me to choose the name for my organization; Friends with Environment in Development (FED). Our focus and passion through FED is to making the local, regional, national and the world realize that the elders in local communities who are still with us are an incredible and incomparable rich resource.  They hold the richness of unlimited knowledge that this young generation needs to tap into before these elders depart. The elders hold a knowledge not between walls and exclusive of others, but a knowledge unlimited. They hold the wisdom of how to live in harmony with Nature – our Mother the Earth, and the knowledge of how to live with one another accommodatingly.  

To learn more of the work of Robert Kuganza or Friends with Environment in Development, you can write to him here: kugonzarobert@gmail.com

Ready for the Rains

Riddhi Shah, educator, organizer and Earth steward

GPIW meets with many young ecologists and activists out in the field restoring the damage we have collectively done to nature. It can be emotionally difficult at times for the individual and one must often draw on inner reserves of spiritual strength to continue.

Riddhi Shah wrote to us recently, exhausted and feeling defeated at the disparity she saw in one drought stricken area of India where temperatures of 45C left three villages facing severe water shortages. ‘It was stressful and exhausting trying to bring attention to local authorities’ and urging corporate leaders to put their spare money in these places. She pressed on seeking to find the local business leaders who understand the gravity and urgency of the situation, knowing that children drinking water from contaminated wells are in grave danger.

“People just don’t understand the gravity of the situation.”

Upon returning to the villages, Riddhi met with the village heads in the district. She also assembled the younger members of those communities. Since she wrote to us a month ago disheartened by what she saw, she has worked hard to understand the situation, the cultural sensitivities and now has organized a ‘super-active’ group of villagers who are working on a model project. The project aims to increase the ground water retention and raise the water table.

Men, women and children are spending every free minute digging swales, trenches, ditches and channels to collect and store rain water. It has brought together the whole community who are now planting new trees and caring for the ones that are there. A local prosperous land owner who manages a vineyard took notice of these efforts and has offered to lend support in some way. Riddhi has invited corporations to help and now has a pledge of $25,000 to support the project.

We thought you would like this story of how one young woman helped to mobilize a rural community to bring back their life giving water and forest cover again. Across the world young people are engaging in Earth repair and restoration and there are many opportunities for each us to seek them out and assist them. Commitment and devotion can bring about real change.

As part of the Inner Dimensions of Climate Change Program GPIW will be sharing more stories about young people restoring the natural world.

Unity: The Eagle and the Condor

Message from the Kogi

by Emma Szymanski

This past March, the Global Peace Initiative of Women organized a five-day retreat in Costa Rica with 20 young ecologists and environmental activists from different regions of the United States. Mentors from various spiritual and indigenous traditions guided the program in exploring the convergence of spirituality and ecology, as well as the intersectionality that must be taken up in addressing the multifaceted, global crises beyond climate change. Participants met to discuss the shifts in consciousness and relation to the Earth through a long-eschewed spiritual lens, in the context of the environmental movement in the United States.

This was one gathering in a series of meetings (see highlights of last year’s Costa Rica gathering here) with young people around the world that GPIW has organized over the last few years. This initiative grounds its efforts and expression in the idea of Mother Earth’s essential sacredness, as well as in the cultivation of inner wisdom or self-awareness as a means of healing and restoring bonds with both the natural world.

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Participants of the “Inner Dimensions of Climate Change” retreat — opening day at the Earth Charter International headquarters in San Jose, Costa Rica.

Earth’s biodiversity, including the cultural diversity and vitality of the global human community, manifests as incomprehensibly complex systems in motion. These systems are fundamentally deserving of respect, care, and awe. Reciprocity and mutual flourishing, two elements often found among coexisting species and communities in the natural world, in a way represent the crossing of thresholds that embody any healthy living system. En route to transformation, may we first and foremost seek the paths toward harmony and shared prosperity by learning to face inward—not selfishly, but instead as liminal beings whose inner dimensions illuminate a collective source of wisdom, so often unseen and inaccessible in today’s world of distractions and artificiality.

We were honored to be joined by Pacha K’anchay, a young Kogi leader who traveled from the Sierra Nevada Mountains of Colombia to deliver his people’s message. Trained in the teachings of community elders, Pacha kindly imparted profound wisdom unto the group on the opening evening. His words, and those of Mindahi Munoz, a resident scholar at the Center for Earth Ethics at Union Theological Seminary, are translated into both English and Spanish below. As you read, consider how you yourself might recognize the animate, dynamic essence of the natural world. Perhaps you may let that energetic force flood your individual mind, if only for a few moments, as one living, beating, breathing being among innumerable others.

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Top row, from left to right: Mindahi Bastida, Pacha K’anchay, and Geraldine Patrick.

“Eagle and Condor”

English

Pacha K’anchay:

From the lands of Central America, where the beaks of the condor and the eagle unite, we meet here, offering a tribute to the ancient and ancestral peoples who walked on this land.

Which today, as spirits, provide food and are the nature of this land. They are the songs of birds, and they still live in the sounds of our waters, and they still have a community.

And this spirit has allowed many beings to learn, to unite in knowledge, and today, there are many ways of wanting to join with nature.

We are here to make a call to the conscience and to the heart of all human beings, so that we can once again synchronize our heart with that of Mother Earth’s.

From the things that are real, from forgiving the person next to us, and from understanding the time in which we find ourselves, it is time to unify ourselves among our peoples.

It is time for nations to understand that millenary wisdom was left on Earth for humanity to uphold herself.

And we were given forms of thought so that in each territory there would be peace and balance and harmony among the beings that live there.

From the heart, we send a message to all the beings that can see this message, that from your heart you may feel the need for a transformation, to protect life, to unify with nature.

Many today have spiritual faculties, and the thought is growing; others, from the reason and with scientific faculties, can aide so that nature, our Mother Earth, continues and lives for a long time.

From our heart we have come here to give thanks for life, to unify ourselves with the essence of thought.

We are in the time of prophecies where the Sun sends his messages and the Earth manifests her changes.

We are in the time of birth pains, moving towards a time in which we reconnect with our interior.

The prophecies of our ancestors are fulfilled today. The prophecies were told so that today, we who are alive in this historic moment, may again synchronize ourselves with the Earth and with the Universe.

From the peoples of South America of the lands of the condor, from the people of the eagle.

We also lift up unity to Tibet, the Himalayas, to the great territories found all over the planet to unify ourselves in the heart of Mother Earth for life.

This is how, here today, in nature, among family and among the hearts of the people, we send to you, from our heart, all the strength to unify ourselves in this web of life.

From the heart of the lands of the eagle and the condor, Abyayala, in the center of what is now called Costa Rica, we raise this call to the unity of the peoples for life. HAYAYA

Mindahi Crescencio Bastida Muñoz:

Greetings! We greet you with our hearts from the lands of the central highlands of Mexico, here in Costa Rica.

I greet my KJUADA, Pacha K’anchay. Eagle and condor, here in these millenary lands.

The time of our voice has come, our time has come.

Nothing and no one will speak for us any more, nor will they sit to discuss what they will do with our peoples, with our territories.

The dawn is approaching, the birds are saying so. The quetzal will return to these lands and to others.

We also want to greet the distant lands: the dragon and the Phoenix, because one day we will join them, also.

We send this message because we all have something to contribute.

Human beings have created the problem, and now we are going to create the solution, together, in a process of unification where we learn ‘to be’ in this ‘collective way of being’.

In the ‘way of being’ from which we departed many times over the past seven thousand years.

The dawn is approaching, and we are in a process of transition. We are here for the new dawn.

MOXINGUINTINI KJUADA MOXINGUINTINI KJU. KJAMADI. Onward with everything, with life, for the life, and for life.

Español

Pacha K’anchay:

Desde las tierras de Centroamérica, donde se unen el pico del cóndor y del águila, nos encontramos aquí ofreciéndole un tributo a los pueblos milenarios y ancestrales que caminaron por acá.

Que hoy, como espíritus, brindan alimento y son la naturaleza de esta tierra. Que son los cantos de las aves, y que aún viven en los sonidos de nuestras aguas, y aún tienen comunidad.

Y ese espíritu ha permitido que muchos seres aprendan, que se unan en conocimiento, y hoy aparecen muchas formas de querer unirse más a la naturaleza.

Estamos aquí para hacerle un llamado a la conciencia y al corazón de todos los seres humanos, para que podamos nuevamente sincronizar nuestro corazón con el de la Madre Tierra.

Desde lo real, desde perdonar al que tenemos al lado, y desde comprender el tiempo en el que nos encontramos, es el momento de unificarnos entre pueblos.

Es el momento de que las naciones comprendan que la sabiduría milenaria se dejó en la tierra para que se sostuviera la humanidad.

Y se nos dejaron formas de pensamiento para que en cada territorio hubiera paz y equilibrio y armonía entre los seres que ahí están.

De corazón enviamos un mensaje a todos los seres que puedan observar este mensaje, de que de corazón sientan la necesidad de una transformación, de proteger la vida, de unificarnos con la naturaleza.

Muchos hoy día tienen facultades espirituales y el pensamiento va creciendo; otros desde la razón, con las facultades científicas, pueden aportar a que la naturaleza, nuestra Madre Tierra, continúe y perviva en el tiempo.

De corazón aquí hemos venido a agradecer por la vida, a unificarnos con la esencia del pensamiento.

Estamos en los tiempos de las profecías en donde el Sol envía sus mensajes y la Tierra se manifiesta con sus cambios.

Estamos en el tiempo de dolor de parto hacia un tiempo en donde estamos volviendo a conectarnos con nuestro interior.

Las profecías de nuestros ancestros hoy se cumplen. Se dijeron para que hoy nosotros, que vivimos este momento histórico, podamos sincronizarnos nuevamente con la Tierra y el Universo.

Desde los pueblos de Sudamérica de las tierras del cóndor, desde los pueblos del águila.

También elevamos la unidad hacia el Tíbet, el Himalaya, hacia los grandes territorios que se encuentran en todo el planeta para unificarnos en el corazón de la Madre Tierra por la vida.

Es así, como hoy aquí, en esta naturaleza, entre la familia, entre el corazón de los pueblos, les enviamos a ustedes, desde nuestro corazón, toda la fuerza para unificarnos en este tejido de vida.

Desde el corazón de las tierras del águila y el cóndor, el Abyayala, en todo el centro de que hoy llaman Costa Rica, elevamos este llamado hasta la unidad de los pueblos por la vida. HAYAYA

Mindahi Crescencio Bastida Muñoz:

Saludo! Les saludamos con el corazón desde las tierras del altiplano central de México aquí desde Tepantí, desde Costa Rica.

Saludo a mi KJUADA, Pacha K’anchay. Águila y cóndor, aquí en estas tierras milenarias.

Ha llegado el tiempo de nuestra voz, el tiempo nuestro.

Ya nada ni nadie hablará por nosotros ni se sentarán a discutir qué harán con nuestros pueblos, con los territorios.

Ya se acerca la alborada, los pájaros están mencionando. El quetzal volverá por estas tierras y por otras.

También queremos saludar a las tierras lejanas: al dragón y al Fénix, porque un día nos uniremos también con ellos.

Enviamos este mensaje porque todos tenemos algo que aportar.

Los seres humanos ahora hemos creado el problema y ahora vamos a crear la solución, juntos, en un proceso de unificación donde nosotros estamos aprendiendo a ‘ser’ en este ‘ser colectivo’.

En ese ‘ser’ que muchas veces se desvió desde hace siete mil años.

Ya se acerca la alborada, y estamos en un proceso de transición. Estamos por el nuevo amanecer.

MOXINGUINTINI KJUADA MOXINGUINTINI KJU. KJAMADI. Adelante con todo, con la vida, para la vida, y por la vida.