Grand Warriors: Indigenous children confront COVID-19
09 August 2021
In celebration of International Indigenous Peoples Day and the upcoming International Youth Day, we share a courageous story of how indigenous children battled a mysterious being that consumed their village: COVID-19.
In the heart of the Amazonas state of Brazil, young leaders had an innovative idea to teach indigenous children how to prevent COVID-19. “I feel privileged to be part of something that can impact many people's lives,” says Anderson Teles Marques, 28-year-old video editor and photographer and member of the Coordination of Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon (Coiab, in Portuguese).
The cartoon “Grand Warriors” was produced by young people from different regions of Amazonas. Vera Tukano, 23, a radio producer, explains that the idea is to communicate the message that unity is the best antidote against the coronavirus.
"We decided to create this vision: we are a family, we are a group that fights the same disease."
The indigenous cultural components used in the story, as the language of the forest beings and the ancestral elements, were crucial for the children to understand how to prevent from the disease. “We decided to make a cartoon for children, so that we could use simpler language that everybody could understand”, explains Anderson.
“One challenge was the internet connection, because the young people are from different areas in the Amazon,” explains Anderson. It was even difficult for colleagues to engage in the pre-production discussions due to connectivity issues, claims Vera. "Sometimes you could only access internet during the day and meetings were held at night."
Adding COVID-19's prevention measures into the script was also a challenging process. “The difficulties were to place the elements such as mask, hand sanitizer and vaccination in a way that would not break the immersion in the story”, says Anderson.
Despite the obstacles, the video has been a success with a successful social campaign via UNICEF. The idea is to reach indigenous peoples in other countries. In local communities, the results were also outstanding. “Young people reported that in their villages, some people cried because the story made them feel many emotions,” told Anderson.
Grand Warriors (Brazil | 2021 | 06min45s) - Synopsis: Kito, Irisa, Wáwéru, Buhtûû and A'iru'acu decide to spend the night in the forest and have mysterious dreams. Scared, they return to the village and find the community in distress with the arrival of an unknown being, which had already taken some people from their families. Determined to help, they seek guidance with the ancient villager.
The movie was produced by Coiab in partnership with UNICEF and Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz) and is part of the Amazonian Indigenous Peoples Against COVID-19 (Piaac). Besides Anderson and Vera, Patrícia Guajajara, Kauri Waiãpi, Esco Tikuna, Cledson Karitiana, Alana Manchineri, Mariana Aikanã, Victoria Correa, Mateus Compart, Ian Wapichana, Jakeline Carvalho Xavier and Talita Oliveira participated in the activity.
International Day of the World´s Indigenous Peoples - 9 August marks the date of the inaugural session of the Working Group on Indigenous Populations at the United Nations in 1982. The COVID-19 pandemic has shone a light on the effects of growing inequalities and promoted discussion on the urgent need to rethink a new social contract - a new common sense that will work for all peoples and the planet. This year, a virtual event will discuss the theme “Leaving no one behind: Indigenous peoples and the call for a new social contract”, to be held on Monday, 9 August from 9 am to 11 am (EST).
International Youth Day – The 2021 theme for the day is “Transforming Food Systems: Youth Innovation for Human and Planetary Health”. The #YouthLead Innovation Festival which will take place on August 12-13 is a celebration of innovative youth-led solutions for the achievement of the SDGs and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The day is an opportunity to celebrate and mainstream young peoples’ voices, actions and initiatives, as well as their meaningful, universal and equitable engagement.