Introduction / History
The Chayahuita have no written history and most of the older adults don't know where their roots actually began until a village called Chayahuita was formed. The Chayahuita live in 105 villages in the Amazon Basin of Peru. Today they are divided among three districts: Jeberos, Cahuapanas and Balsapuerto. The Balsapuerto district is accessible from the Paranapura River, Cahuapanas is off the Sillay River, and Jeberos is accessible only by land or air.
What are their lives like?
The Chayahuita lead very simple lives. They are farmers and hunters. As civilization has grown, the animals that used to be part of their diet have become less and less plentiful and they rely more on the crops that they can grow. Their diet is made up mostly of plaintain, suri (a worm), small fish, chicken and plenty of masato (a beer made of yucca or sweet potato). They generally live in villages of around 250-300 (there are a couple of villages that are bigger). Couples marry quite early and have a good number of children. They depend on the money from their harvest and move it on the rivers to the cities to be sold. Some raise cattle or sheep.
What are their beliefs?
Quite a few Chayahuita have become Christians over the last decades; however there are still many that need to hear the Gospel. There are about 5000-6000 believing Chayahuitas. They actually have a board of "elders" and an evangelical association. There is still a Catholic influence as well as Seventh Day Adventist.
What are their needs?
Health- Help with eradication of mosquitoes that cause malaria and dengue fever, vaccinations against hepatitis, and clean drinking water.
Financial- Help in establishing their own business ventures to survive without outside money, and help in learning how to use their natural and abundant resources for their livelihood.
* For continued growth spiritually.
* Provision of funds to establish businesses.
* For continued health concerns (malaria, dengue etc).
Text source: Anonymous