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"People in the Amazon have been taking care of the forest for millions of years "

Raquel Rosenberg shares reflections on her experiences as part of Be The Earth's Flow Funding programme. She focused on the Amazon, "reflunding" the grants to four incredible female leaders doing difficult, vital, and pioneering work in their communities.


My name is Raquel, I’m a climate activist working in the Amazon for more than five years now. When I first received the invitation to be part of Be The Earth’s Flow Funding circle, I felt so inspired and honoured. As a social entrepreneur and co-founder of a youth-led organization in Brazil called Engajamundo, I spent many years looking for funding and couldn’t find anything like that – a funder that really trusted me and my work. The bureaucracy of writing projects that “fit” the funder, reports and accountability, took me time, dedication and gave me lots of stress, especially when it comes to the Amazon, where it's absolutely impossible to find invoices and receipts.


That is why, since the first year in 2021, I’ve decided to focus my Flow Funding on the Amazon. The challenges in the biggest rainforest in the world are so many – land invasions, cattle, soy, illegal mining, logging, hydropower plants, etc – that those outside Brazil would never imagine that protecting the forest and its biodiversity is actually about strengthening the forest people who are on the frontlines. In other words, it is about climate justice, because people in the Amazon have been taking care of the forest for millions of years and still are.

I decided to go one step further in 2022 by combining my feeling of being trusted and able to follow my heart and intuition during the first year, with the full capacity of some of the Amazonian women I’ve met in the last year. I gave the same opportunity I had had to four incredible leaders in the Amazon, dividing my own Flow Fund into four and proposing that they could make the Flow Funding themselves, as they wish to. What I’ve named as the “re-flunding” experience felt absolutely amazing!


Mayalú Txucarramãe is an indigenous leader, mother of four and granddaughter of Chief Raoni. She lives in Capoto Jarina Indigenous Land and works at Instituto Raoni strengthening her people, especially the women. Her main donations were to allow the participation of female elders and shamans in the Indigenous Woman’s Movement and to attend march with them in Brasília.


Isis Tatiane is the president of the first quilombola women-led organization in Brazil. The “quilombolas” are communities descended from slaves who ran from slavery and built their camps in the middle of the Amazonian forest so that they couldn’t be found. Tati decided to use the funding to cover the huge tax gap that the organisation had with the IRS for 25+ years. She was very emotional when she told me no one else would give funding for that objective and they would probably have to shut down the historical women’s association if it wasn’t for my proposal.

Daniela dos Santos is a young black leader from the city of Altamira, by the Xingu River, in the biggest municipality in the country (with an area bigger than Portugal) and, unfortunately, where the enormous Belo Monte hydropower plant is based. Dani herself is a symbol of resistance and lost her husband to Covid when their daughter was only 2. Her decision was to invest in her own non-profit to work with children in the slums of Altamira and also to build her house.


Angelica Mendes is a young peasant leader, granddaughter of the legend Chico Mendes, and continuing his fight in the region of Acre with Instituto Chico Mendes. She looks after the necessities of people in the field like no-one else, because she is so close to the problems that happen. That’s why she supported people, like one suffering from depression, or adding a drinking fountain to Instituto Chico Mendes, or another who needed a bike to finish school at the age of 60.


After going from confident to anxious about what they would do with the resources, I discovered that, with the re-fluding proposal, I had a come full circle with Flow Funding! Trust is about letting go, it's about flow. And if I wanted to focus in the Amazon, nothing could be better than trusting that powerful women who are already leading movements and solving challenges in their territories. Even if I don’t agree or wouldn’t choose to do necessarily what they did, I couldn’t be feeling more energized and complete about this journey! Let it flow!!

 

Raquel Rosenberg is the co-founder of the youth-led organization Engajamundo, she has extensive experience in youth mobilisation, project development, and coordination of non-hierarchical teams. Rosenberg has represented the organisation in several international conferences in defence of climate justice, with emphasis on the speech at COP21, the U.N. climate change conference. Raquel is part of the movement Liberte o Futuro, advocacy campaign to centre life on earth in public policy and civilian narratives. Raquel was a Pulitzer Centre grantee and an Ashoka Fellow.


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