How can you prevent certain languages from becoming extinct? One community in the Amazon is using crowdfunding and YouTube to help their quest.
The Kukama language (spoken in parts of the Loreto province in the Peruvian Amazon) is in danger of dying out with only the elders of the Kukama community able to speak it fluently. Local radio station Radio Ucamara and German-based NGO Create Your Voice have been working with the community to find ways to help preserve the language, establishing a nearby school and finding ways to spread awareness of this threatened language.
One of the biggest reasons the language is under threat is globalisation and the so-called streamlining of education which happens as a result, a point that was reiterated by Kukama elder María Nieves Nashnato Upari on the blog for the Smithsonian Folklife Festival:
"When state public schools came to our area years ago, they prohibited us from speaking our mother language. They wanted us to practice speaking only Spanish, and even discouraged us from speaking Kukama at home."
Radio Ucamara and Create Your Voice have been using a number of tools to encourage people's interest internationally in keeping the language alive, creating and uploading videos to YouTube and recently launching a crowdfunding campaign to fund the Escuela Ikuari school, which local community members and Radio Ucamara opened seven years ago, that would teach the language to younger generations.
One of the videos, Kumbarikira (below), went viral and features young members of the community rapping (in Spanish and Kukama) the lyrics to a song that the community wrote about the need to keep the language alive.
Almost 130 pupils now attend the Escuela Ikuari school but the community needs support in order to keep it running. The crowdfunding campaign is calling for 17,000 USD which it will put towards running costs for the school buildings, teaching materials and also providing a small stipend to the teachers. The campaign is ongoing and donations are being accepted all the time – click here to support the project.