Answers from Bedora Chañafil Huente, teacher of Basic Education with a mention in Interculturality at the Primer Agua school.
How long does it take you to get here (Santiago)?
“For me to travel to Santiago it takes me a whole day, if it is day, or all night if it is night. It is quite far from Tirúa to Santiago.
Do you like working at Primer Agua?
If I like working in Primer Agua? Of course I like working in Primer Agua because the school is within a Mapuche community, therefore more than 90% of the students are Mapuche, and I am very happy to give my work back to the children of my village. For me it was a dream to become a teacher, it makes me feel proud of myself. Teaching the children of indigenous communities is a great personal challenge, so I feel very happy to work at Primer Agua .
Are you happy and honored to be a Mapuche?
I feel proud to be a Mapuche, I feel very very happy to be a Mapuche, I believe that being a Mapuche today is not as difficult as it was in the past, when they were even more negative stereotypes. Nowadays, being a Mapuche is different, each Mapuche who is a professional tries to change that stigma, tries to change that history, recounting the most important things that we have as a people, and fight and continue fighting, survive and lead a better life in such an individualistic society, and maintain a collective culture of collective thought. That means being a Mapuche, is fighting for the other, thinking for the other and taking care of the common good of the other, and that makes me feel much happier.
Do you have your own God or do you believe in the one we believe in? Which one is the most important?
I do not have a God of my own, but I have an equal collective belief. All the deities (nien) help me to be a part of myself, therefore no deity is more important than the other, but all deities are very important. The air nien is very important, because without air we could not live, and each individual needs air, without the water nien we could not live, because we have a large amount of water in our body. Without the nien of the land, we would not be able to live, we would not have a place to live, therefore it is important, we would not have someone to cohabit with, the nien of animals, plants, and sowing, all are important, but they are all so important, that are part of each one of us, each one of us is a composition of all these nien.
Could you tell us one of your traditions?
In our custom, also thinking that we are whole, both traditions and customs are part of this whole, if a ceremony does not proceed collectively, it is not right, that is why every ceremony is collective, every sport is collective. Therefore, this helps us always to be in balance, to be in harmony with ourselves, and with the others as well, it helps us to know ourselves, it helps us to balance ourselves, through conversation, prayer, games, from dancing, through food, everything helps us to have a balance.