Kaká Werá

Ashoka Fellow
Brazil
Fellow Since 2005

Citation

This profile was prepared when Kaká Werá was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2005.
The New Idea
Kaká has founded a series of programs that use indigenous knowledge to address stubborn social issues from fresh perspectives. His flagship program is the “Aldeia do Saber Sagrado” (Sacred Knowledge Tribe) in the city of Itapecerica da Serra, near São Paulo city. This space offers trainings and activities for the young and the old, serving thousands of adolescents, health professionals, and indigenous Brazilians each year. In it, children from public and private schools learn about indigenous history and culture, take classes in environmental education, and work in reforesting the devastated woods. Doctors, psychologists, and others interested in indigenous medicine attend courses on indigenous culture and learn the use of medicinal plants.
Through his umbrella organization, the Arapoty Institute, Kaká organizes volunteers to visit tribes in the region to help with emergency needs, provide health training, and identify potential leaders within each tribe. These leaders take part in training initiatives in the “Aldeia do Saber Sagrado” that prepare them to start new business ventures, to manage the production of arts and crafts and generate income for the tribe. They also take on the responsibility of spreading the knowledge they gain at the “Aldeia do Saber Sagrado” throughout their communities.
Kaká works to spread the products and insights of indigenous culture beyond the borders of Brazil. He draws on the principles and infrastructure of movements for fair trade to establish new, lucrative markets for native products in Europe. He has developed exchange programs that immerse European youths in the life of indigenous Brazilians, and put together international conferences that are rooted in indigenous cultures but organized around principles that transcend cultural boundaries.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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