"I didn’t have the tools I needed, the knowledge of non-indigenous men. And that’s what CAFI gave me."
Former graduate in CAFI
The Amazon Indigenous Training Center (CAFI, as it is locally known) is a groundbreaking TNC-sponsored initiative for indigenous people in the Brazilian Amazon. Inaugurated in 2006, CAFI empowers indigenous people and their organizations from across the Brazilian Amazon with the skills to preserve the integrity of their territories and promote the sustainable management of natural resources.
Since its inauguration, the center has trained 91 young indigenous leaders from different parts of the Brazilian Amazon, who are chosen by their villages to participate in the course. These young men and women then return to their communities with a new set of skills for supporting the protection and conservation of their native lands.
One of the graduates from CAFI, Genisvan Macuxi, found in the electronic maps technology a tool for giving back to his community.
With the support of the Conservancy, he honed the mapping and remote sensing techniques he learned in CAFI and obtained equipment to create maps that help indigenous organizations manage and guard a complex of indigenous lands in the northern Brazilian Amazon.
Enock Taurepang, another former graduate in CAFI, chose a different way of making a difference. After completing his course in 2010, he used the knowledge he acquired to gather signatures on a petition calling for better schools in indigenous lands and took the document to Brazilian authorities.
“I guess I became a leader even before the course, but I didn’t have the tools I needed, the knowledge of non-indigenous men. And that’s what CAFI gave me”, Enock said.
The CAFI curriculum includes coursework in basic project management; Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and other technologies; environmental planning and management and environmental and indigenous policy.
Students supplement their coursework with side activities – which, in 2010, included a week-long immersion held in indigenous communities in the Brazilian state of Roraima and a visit to Brazil’s National Congress to submit amendments to the country’s annual budget.
CAFI is managed by the Conservancy jointly with our local partner, COIAB (Coordination of Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon), the largest and most important Amazon indigenous coalition, and there are strong and growing demands to expand and consistently improve its courses.