This post is brought to you by PURE Energies. All photo credits go to Neil Osborne.
I’m so excited to share with you a fun and totally different type of post today from the team at PURE Energies, makers of solar-power energy systems. Their CEO, Zbigniew Barwicz- along with a small team led by the International Conservation Fund of Canada- recently embarked on the trip of a lifetime to the Brazilian Amazon Rain Forest. For two weeks, they lived alongside the Kayapo, the indigenous tribe that has dedicated its life to protecting the rain forest.
During their trip, the team spent time participating in traditions of the Kayapo and exploring the Amazon. They also gave a donation to help the Kayapo in their efforts to protect what, in my opinion, is perhaps the worlds most important ecosystem. Plus, they provided light to each and every household. Why did they do this? Simple: to learn about the truest form of independence and share that with homeowners of America, while also giving a little something back to the Kayapo for all they do to protect one of our planet’s greatest treasures.
The rest of this post gives you an insider’s look at what we can learn from the Kayapo people about raising our own children in the jungle- urban or actual! It’s written by a member of the team. I’m really excited to give you this inside look!
Three tips to raising kids in the jungle – urban or actual!
Ever been to Kendjam? My guess is no – it’s a remote village in the Amazon rain forest, part of eastern Brazil. The tiny village sits within 10.5 million hectares of rainforest territory that belongs to and is protected by an indigenous people called the Kayapo. To give you a better idea of what 10.5 million hectares means, the area that the Kayapo protect is larger than 45% of the countries in the world.
The Kayapo are the finest blend of courage, strength, wisdom and kindness I have ever encountered. By Western standards they live modest lives, even though they have had contact with the outside world (by outside, I mean anyone not Kayapo) since the late 1960s, with many chances to trade for Western material goods. By choice, they have no appliances, internet, vehicles, or modern media. Their lives are amazingly rich.
I was lucky enough to spend just over a week there. I took home lessons about many things, but I think what captivated me most is their family life. The Kayapo don’t have jobs, money or economies. Their purpose is to serve their families and communities. Because of this there is an incredible energy of love, respect and peace that spreads across their villages and their society.
Here are three stand-out lessons I learned about nurturing strong, independent, incredibly loving children from the amazing Kayapo mothers, fathers, and elders that I met.
- Don’t teach your kids to be afraid
Spending time with the Kayapo children was magical. They are so full of joy – all the time. Not, of course because they have the latest iPad or game. In fact, they have no toys or technology. Rather, they spend time exploring their surroundings, climbing trees, playing with their friends, and swimming. Parents don’t teach their kids to fear. There is no coddling, no overprotecting, no helicopter parenting. Kids are taught at a very young age to be independent, to be strong, to help one another, and to protect and care for those around them.
Experiencing this firsthand was life-changing. I saw 7-year-olds carving toy wooden airplanes with machetes half as long as their arms. I saw 10-year-old girls climb 30-foot trees to cut acai berries, barefoot, a machete held firmly between shoulder and cheek.
This is how the Kayapo raise strong resilient children, children who become wise adults because they are taught to be free and fearless. It’s incredibly liberating to watch.
Fear holds us back from reaching our dreams. Kids need and deserve to experience the world through their own eyes. To play in the water, to climb trees, to explore their limits, to push their boundaries and to learn for themselves what works, what doesn’t, and what they should be afraid of.
- Expressing emotions makes you strong, not weak
I was surprised at how open, kind and emotional the Kayapo were to both young and old. Fathers, mothers and grandparents were not afraid to hug, kiss, and play with their children. Families were loving, open and kind to each other. The Kayapo believe that expressing our emotions make us human, not weak. They teach their kids that protection comes from loving and giving to others – freely, openly and without fear.
- Who’s better than anyone else?
In a Kayapo community there is almost no sense of I, no individualism – everyone works as a collective. Kids aren’t taught to undermine other kids or to compete against them in a destructive way. They don’t base their self-awareness and self-worth through manipulation, putting down, or rising above others. On the contrary, everyone is a team – everyone has the same goal. As a result, everyone is respectful.
It was an incredibly refreshing change to live in a real, connected, loving community. To see what children were like when their parents weren’t out to make sure that they play every sport, fill every hour, and get to the most prestigious university. To see what happens when everyone thinks about everyone else. I wish that every parent could see what kids are like when they are raised this way.
The things that really struck me about Kayapo childrearing – building a lack of fear, expressing emotions, and living as part of a community – are not what I hear most parents talking about today. And it’s true, most modern parents aren’t planning to have their children live off the bounty of the jungle, dedicate their lives to their community, and preserve the rainforest they live in. But still. We could all learn a lot from the Kayapo. I’m grateful I had the opportunity. I won’t forget.
Click HERE to learn more about PURE Energies and their visit to the Amazon rain forest, plus check out their spectacular video to see more about their adventures!