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Mapiá AmaZone

at the heat of Amazon

The history of Céu do Mapiá Village dates back to the early 70s in the city of Rio Branco, capital of the Acre State. It is related to the spiritual movement based on the ritual use of Ayahuasca – a brew made of leaves from a specific bush and a liana, both native of the Amazon Forest – which is used by many indigenous people in this part of the Amazon forest. Padrinho Sebastião Mota de Melo, an Amazonian rubber tapper, and his family, were followers of Mestre Raimundo Irineu Serra, the founder of the Santo Daime spiritual movement. After the passing away of Serra, the Mota family started doing their spiritual works with Santo Daime at their colony, in the rural area of Rio Branco. Many people started to come to the sessions, and with little time a group was formed, gathering families of small farmers, tappers and people from the city of Rio Branco.

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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.

Is about supporting those who are living sustainably at the heart of the Amazon for generations. The project supports young people to continue thriving with their agroforestry activities in Mapiá.

Supported by APE-UK the Turma do Roçado have planted

  • Macaxeira: 1000 seedlings
  • Yam: 50 seedlings
  • Cara: 25 seedlings
  • Sugar Cane: 300 seedlings
  • Pineapple: 200 seedlings
  • Açai: 100 seedlings
  • Avocado: 20 seedlings
  • Cashew: 20 seedlings
  • Ingá: 20 seedlings
  • Jambo: 20 seedlings
  • Mango: 5 seedlings

They are looking at increasing substantially their agroforestry activities to counteract the fires of the region and to strengthen their community resilience, food diversity and ecosystems regeneration.

#Together4Mapia #Agroforestry4Mapia #Together4Amazon

Action Toolkit


Gaia Education and (…), are accepting donations for this community in the Amazon Forest where 100% will be to:

  • Ensure the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of terrestrial and inland freshwater ecosystems;
  • Promote the implementation of sustainable management of all types of forests, halt deforestation, restore degraded forests and substantially increase afforestation and reforestation globally;
  • Ensure the conservation of ecosystems, including their biodiversity, in order to enhance their capacity to provide benefits that are essential for sustainable development;
  • Take urgent and significant action to reduce the degradation of natural habitats, halt the loss of biodiversity and, protect and prevent the extinction of threatened species;
  • Significantly increase financial resources from all sources to conserve and sustainably use biodiversity and ecosystems, and empower the local organisations;
  • build on existing initiatives to develop measurements of progress on sustainable development that complement local gross domestic product.

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