Soambá Panamá

Where we teach and celebrate the indigenous way of life

In the Darien rainforest of Panama we offer the space, time, and resources for Emberá and Wounaan people of all ages to learn practical skills from their elders, exchanging and practicing with each other the traditional rainforest sustainable living techniques. These practices have historically defined much of what it means to be Emberá or Wounaan, and they have been integral to sustaining people in the forest for generations.

The villagers named the school Soambá: the Common Heart.

For months they came together, laboring barefoot to build a large traditional lodge.  Each work day they shared a meal cooked over an open fire, and together they imagined the possibilities.

Now participants in our workshops hone their skills with each other to make tools, baskets, boats, shelters, and other ways of sourcing and using materials from the rain forest as part of daily life at home. They reconnect with their language and oral history, their medicine and music.

Our program combines these ancestral practices with workshops given by outside experts on sustainable infrastructure development. We foster informed community-wide discussion about how best to incorporate newer imported technologies, participate in global economies, and grow in alignment with traditional indigenous world views.