The title of this text is the first definition of the Comuá Network in my view. There are many ways to choose whether to define yourself as a network, but I will stick with the one that connects and extends. This text, that follows a horizontal line, intends to talk to you about how knowledge is constructed from a decolonial community philanthropy. We are not designing recipes, in fact what we aim is to build spaces with possibilities.
There are many ways to do philanthropy, and few people recognise this. Here is our first frontier. When I refer to people, I am acknowledging the existence of a system, an approach, an objective qualification about what philanthropy means for those who recognise it and not exactly for those who do it.
Spaces such as the ‘Philanthropy, Social Justice, Civil Society and Democracy Seminar‘ establish the current need to recognise the philanthropies that are generated within the country’s territories.
When I look at Instituto Comunitário Baixada Maranhense’s territory, I realise the relationships are established daily as solid constructions and as a result of human interaction, which is only possible because we are in a territory of ancestral knowledge that allows us to understand development as a collective act, never individual. Those definitions establish in a very concrete way the spaces in which our organisation manages to be. To set and not just to be the agenda, to recognise and build space for leaders and organisations that have the territory as their source of intellectual production that is built not during the time of the project, but much earlier, because it is in the ancestral territory that we strengthen ourselves. And by territory we mean land, people and time.
It is time for us to understand, one way or another, that there is knowledge within communities, which is not inferior, it is just as important as what is produced in big cities. For us to move towards the reduction of inequalities, it is necessary for those that are endlessly growing to decrease, because only then will our communities grow. Decreasing in this case does not mean losing. Let me give a dynamic example: you, the so-called ‘developed’, can increase your table and stop building the fences.
For us, being part of the Network is valuable. As a community, we build in a circular fashion. That’s what makes us stronger.
Diane Pereira Sousa is a teacher, legal consultant, Ashoka Fellow, President of Instituto Comunitário Baixada Maranhense and Managing Partner of Instituto Formação.