Following the leadership of Padrinho Sebastião Mota de Melo, the objective of this group was to experience human and spiritual development in a new, fair, communitarian life system, in harmony and nourished by the Forest, as an experimental alternative towards solutions for the environmental, socioeconomical and cultural crisis. New people, new Earth and new system. This is what Padrinho preached, and envisioned that they had to live in a true community life in order to put in practice the spiritual teachings. Padrinho Sebastião was a man of great spiritual strength, and a pure and open heart, and received as his own son every single person who arrived at his house
In 1980, this group with approximately 300 people sold all their belongings and land and moved to a place named Rio do Ouro, close to the Indimari river, settled by the National Colonization and Agrarian Reform Institute (INCRA). This was a much more isolated area, where they built houses, cropped and extracted latex. After passing through difficult times to establish their village, a person showed up claiming to be the owner of the land. Padrinho had already foreseen that Rio de Ouro was not their final destination. Following the suggestions of the INCRA, they left and headed to Mapiá, where INCRA had again offered land for the people. They left behind houses, infrastructure, crops, orchards, without receiving any kind of financial compensation.
In 1983, the group of 60 families arrived at the place where today is the CMV. They had one boat and one chainsaw and the forest in front of them. For many years they lived in a communitarian system, working, planting, harvesting and celebrating together. They had a common shed where all the production was placed and shared by each family. The excess production and the latex extracted from the forest were taken to Boca do Acre and exchanged for salt, oil, gasoline and other products, which were distributed among the families according to the needs.
With time, many people from other places in Brasil and other countries started to arrive seeking the “magic potion’ Ayahuasca or Santo Daime. This expansion and the passing away of Padrinho Sebastião in 1990 marked the beginning of a transition which drove Mapiá to what it is today: the world capital of one of the largest branches of the Santo Daime spiritual movement, with constant visit of foreigners.
With approximately 600 people, CMV is today a center of social, health and education assistance in the region, even for those outside the National Forest. Due to the connections and support brought to CMV through its spiritual movement, the village has a higher living standard and resources than most of the settlements in this region, where human development indexes are amongst the lowest in Brazil. In 2004 they constructed a Community Development Plan with the support of the WWF, through participatory meetings and workshops. The main result was the formation of several Work Groups to deal with specific matters of the community (health, education, administration, food, etc.). Together, these groups form the Interinstitutional Work Group, which is currently the main decision making forum for community issues. Many initiatives are alive and it is an open and rich field for the design, implementation and multiplication of sustainable solutions to improve life quality in the Amazon region.
On the other hand, the changes in lifestyle and community organization, which enabled a more comfortable life, have resulted in a significant loss of resilience. Today, CMV depends greatly on resources and money from outside sources. Collaboration between dwellers has decreased and people struggle to meet their needs. Paradoxically, most people are aware of how much the community has moved away from their original values.
It is well known that Padrinho Sebastião foresaw that Mapiá would face all these challenges. He prophesized that money would come into the community and would take his position and that many would follow the mainstream socioeconomic system in detriment of Nature and the spiritual teachings. He also guaranteed that those who passed through all this without giving up and keeping alive the teachings of the spiritual guidance would be victorious.
One of the main current challenges is the design of the Mapiá Village Master plan, in order to re-establish common agreements and general aspects of the daily life, manage conflicts and guarantee a more resilient village for the future generations.
The intention of the AMAGAIA program is to work with a group of socially and spiritually engaged community members in order to inspire and support them to strengthen their sense of community. They will be put in contact with the ecovillages and what are the different experiences, possibilities and tools for designing resilient human settlements.