Much to my surprise I was asked to help coordinate the runners for Peace and Dignity Journey as they travel through the Southern part of Ecuador.
On Wednesday they will arrive in Vilcabamba around 3pm. During the last few months they have been running all the way from La Tierra Del Fuego on the southern tip of Argentina to meet their fellow runners in Panama, with the northern indigenous runners having started their run from Alaska! This event has been run every four years since 1992!
Their mission statement proclaims that this journey is to honor our ancestral heritage represented by the native nations of South and North America. Ancient elders taught their people that to run strengthens the harmony between nature and humanity. Further, the race exemplifies that “peace on the two continents will come when the Condor and the Eagle fly as one.” This year, our mission is to “honor the spirit of the seed and life”
I was asked to coordinate this part of the journey because of our friendship with Lucia Gallardo and Jose Hualca, who used to live in Vilcabamba and are very involved with indigenous issues. They have always supported the Peace and Dignity Journey and so asked me to cover their role as main coordinator this year for runners from Macara on the Peru-Ecuador border all the way to Saraguru. I did panic a bit, I confess as my Spanish is not good enough to get on the phone and talk to strangers.
Luckily, Vilcabamba is full of activists who have excellent connections with environmentalists and spiritual leaders around Ecuador. In addition, because of the four sacred sites on our Sacred Land Farm we have been working with the local indigenous of our area. In particular, we have created a good friendship with the president of the Palta (the “original people” of this area, now two hours away) and other such leaders.
Within a few days of the phone call asking for help, we gathered a network of servant leaders, both Ecuadorian and foreign. Especially helpful have been Lizbeth Rimland with her bi-lingual skills and Jose Pablo with all his connections. Now, by coordinating all our resources, everything is coming together beautifully. In addition, the Peace and Dignity coordinator for Ecuador supported us greatly, organizing things like police escorts and escorting vehicles for much of the way. It seems that everything is falling into place and they should have arrived in Macara by today, Monday.
We have been depending on donations to help cover the expenses. People have been very generous so far, with more than $500 already collected. We do need about $500 more. If you do not live in Vilcabamba but would like to donate, it would be really appreciated if you could send money to my Paypal account: waltermoora. If you do live here, do consider leaving money in our Peace and Justice envelope at the Juice Factory.
The runners are carrying sacred staffs and this year the theme is the sacredness of seeds. This is very appropriate for Ecuador, as by the end of the year the legislature is trying to change the seed laws. If the laws pass, then the big corporations of the world will have control of our seeds. This is a world-wide struggle against corporations like Monsanto and so Ecuador will become a litmus test for the world. Columbia has already fallen prey to the corporations, with fields of organic seeds being burned by the government.
In Vilcabamba, there is a very active group led by Zia Parker that is trying to raise awareness about the preservation of our ancestral seed heritage. As part of our ceremonies we will be creating a seed, fruit and flower Mandala which will then be blessed. We will finalize the ceremony when the runners come but it will include music,dance and a blessing of the seeds by our shaman elders.
Our hope is that this will become a symbol of the sacredness of seeds. The event will be on video and we hope communities all over Ecuador and the world will create similar Mandalas as a visible reminder that seeds are sacred and cannot be owned or controlled by any entity.
If there is any donated money left over from the Peace and Dignity Journey, it will be used to help create awareness of the sacredness of seeds all over Ecuador.