Many children living in the more developed parts of the world take their opportunity for education for granted and do not realize its importance. On the other side of the planet there are young people willing to walk for miles through rainforest paths in order to reach this opportunity. Every morning, groups of tribespeople cross a jungle creek from their adobe student homes and wander barefoot through savanna inhabited by boa constrictors to reach class at Venezuela’s first indigenous university.
A sign marks the entrance to the Indigenous University in Cano Tauca in the southern state of Bolivar. The original residents of Venezuela’s forests, Caribbean coves and swampy plains, dozens of Amerindian ethnic groups now make up only a fraction of the 29 million people in the South American country dominated by the oil industry. Like similar groups across the world, their habitat and way of life in a vast, long-neglected region of forests and waterways around the Orinoco river are increasingly threatened by illegal mining, ranchers and evangelical Christianity.
Students of the Indigenous University jumping into a river from a tree during a break in Cano Tauca.
Sixteen-year-old Matasinnawana of the Yekuana indigenous indian tribe bathes in a river.
Photographer: Jorge Silva, Reuters