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During Black November, CESE strengthens quilombola communities in their activities to mobilise resources

 

The combination of the socio-economic crisis and the pandemic has had an impact on and posed challenges for the sustainability of groups and collectives that suffer the most from the consequences of social inequalities, particularly for quilombolas.  The problems this population most frequently faces include the demarcation of land, environmental racism and multiple forms of violence. This November, in order to ensure resistance activities continue and to provide long life for the organizations, CESE is running Virtual Training in Mobilising Local Resources for Quilombolas, with support from the Ford Foundation.

Images from the first meetings of the Virtual Training in Mobilising Local Resources for Quilombolas

The initiative is part of Change the Game, a programme to strengthen organizations in the  mobilisation of local resources and support.  It aims to support organizations from the quilombola movement to discuss and plan resource mobilisation and to support the construction of communications instruments that encourage individuals to join these causes.  The first stages of the virtual training took place on 29/10 and 05/11, when more than 20 people, including women, men and young people from traditional communities, exchanged information and experiences about how to strengthen these capacities.

The first meetings allowed the group to start reflecting on the importance of resource mobilisation, the diversification of sources and potential partners.  Leane Souza, from the Cooperative Network of Producers from Bahia (Cooperativa Rede de Produtoras da Bahia: COOPEREDE) and Reinaldo Avelar, from the Association of the Black Rural Quilombola Communities of Maranhão (Associação das Comunidades Negras Rurais Quilombolas do Maranhão: ACONERUQ), opened the debate, describing their organizations’ search for support and how the structuring of organizational processes has helped to improve conditions for the sustainability of groups and networks.

Reinaldo Avelar, from ACONERUQ

 

“Through this course, ACONERUQ has begun running planned and coordinated activities. Internally, we expanded our view about where we would like to go and the resources required to fulfil our mission, and extended our donor networks,” Reinaldo said, referring to the lessons learnt from a course CESE provided in 2019.  And he warned about private, and even government, initiatives that violate socio-environmental rights.  “It’s important to filter and reassess partnerships, so as not to weaken the quilombola struggle,” he noted.

 

Leane Souza, from COOPEREDE

From the same perspective, Leane discussed her experience of selling family farming products and handicrafts in rural territories and quilombola communities: “Handicrafts coming from extracted materials, from straw and sisal, such as our sweets and pulp, not only generate income for the network, but also provide autonomy for the women.”  She shared some successful activities to stimulate reflection and outline the first strategies to attract human and financial resources: “In the silent auction, people donated small amounts for our produce, like two Brazilian Reals, five Reals, small change, whatever they could offer.  Whoever donates the most, wins the prize.  In the last one, we raised three times more than the value of the product,” she concluded.’

As mentioned by Leane, and corroborated by Magno Nascimento, from the Africa quilombola community (Pará) and member of the State Coordination for the Associations of Quilombo Remnant Communities of Pará (Coordenação Estadual das Associações das Comunidades Remanescentes de Quilombo do Pará, known as  MALUNGU), valuing these products not only makes resource mobilisation possible within the context of creative development, but also promotes self-affirmation and the resistance of the quilombola communities.  “First we tell the story of the product. We describe historical and affective memories to raise peoples’ awareness.  It’s not the sale itself, but the sharing of our knowledge, of our culture and identity, in order to value the ceramics and handicrafts, which are our flagship products, in addition to the flour, greens and vegetables,” he noted, adding that this approach provides greater visibility to the cultural products and could provide greater autonomy for the community: “We are in the middle of the Amazon forest, yet, because of the handicraft project, we are able to maintain our activities and expand our coalitions.  Today, we have 54 registered artisans and we’ve won six awards because of this idea, this pathway for struggle,” he said.

Other aspects addressed during the course included points of convergence between potential supporters and civil society organizations, the limits of relationships with the private sector, the resource mobilisation cycle and its main characteristics.  For Valdicelia Nascimento, from the Cerrado Quilombola Organization (Organização Quilombola do Cerrado), the initiative has come at an important moment for action in the communities: “The course is helping to move our ideas on and to reflect on what we want and where we want to go.  It’s important to be part of this movement, joining forces to continue fighting for autonomy in the quilombos.” And with the same enthusiasm, Lucilene Kalunga, a quilombola woman from the state of Goiás, and member of the Malunga Black Women’s Group (Grupo de Mulheres Negras Malunga), declared that lessons have been learnt: “It’s one more opportunity for greater emancipation in our territories, not to depend on third parties but to know how to run our own activities,” she said.

The training, which consists of five meetings via online platform, includes distance monitoring of the organization’s work and the production of podcasts as complementary materials.  Course participants come exclusively from the following quilombola groups: the National Commission for the Coordination of Black Rural Quilombola Communities (Coordenação Nacional de Articulação de Quilombos: CONAQ), the State Coordination of Quilombola Communities of Tocantins (Coordenação Estadual das Comunidades Quilombolas do Tocantins: COEQTO), the Associations of Quilombo Remnant Communities of Pará (Coordenação Estadual das Associações das Comunidades Remanescentes de Quilombo do Pará, known as  MALUNGU), and the Cerrado Quilombola Organization (Organização Quilombola do Cerrado).