The Wishi Community is located in south-eastern Ecuador in the Morona-Santiago province, on the shore of the Lushin River. It is not far from the Pastaza River, a tributary to the Amazon. The nearest town is Palora, which is six hours away by foot.
The community is Shuar, an indigenous group that lives primarily in this region of Ecuador. There are currently only approximately 40,000 Shuar left in the country, and the preservation of their language, territory, and culture is consistently challenged by industrial interests, the pressure of modern society, and marginalization by Mestizo governments. The community hopes that a school will help to preserve the Shuar language and culture, and will empower the children of the community to represent themselves against threats to their land, rights and identity.
The families live in small huts made of wood or bamboo with wooden or aluminum roofs. They live without gas, electricity or running water, and survive using water from the river, subsistence farming, and hunter-gatherer methods. When absolutely necessary they will occasionally enter the city to find work to buy clothing, conventional medicine, or food that they cannot produce (salt, coffee and sugar). They speak both Spanish and Shuar.
Visitors to the Wishi Community would find them to be kind and open, caring deeply for their family and their children. They are incredibly proud of their forest and their culture, and work hard for their preservation. They are very committed to the education of their children, and plan to contribute in every way that they can to the construction and maintenance of their school.