Indigenous Language Rescue

In-community indigenous Emberá language classes, and now new audio materials for independent learning!

One Common Heart


Our story

Thanks to our generous supporters last Giving Tuesday, we have sponsored and supported a trilingual Emberá language teacher to give first-of-their-kind classes in remote communities if the Darien gap in Panama, in the heart of the rainforest bear the Colombian border.


This preserves the use of the indigenous language which is so important to Emberá and indigenous identity! It’s important to us, too, for without the original guardians of the forest living in traditional sustainable ways, we face worsening deforestation which furthers climate change. We need human diversity in order to have human resilience, and One Common Heart empowers people to maintain their way of life.


In February 2018, we began in one village in the Jacqué region and had good success with several adults and children. But we also found that the government school teachers were different than in most villages: they over-worked the children and that left us little time to teach their traditional language.


And so in the fall, with the community’s agreement, we moved to a village with more collaborative educators and our teacher is now using her talents to the fullest. The new village is super excited and Elsa is teaching language 4 hours a day, every weekday. She’s also teaching traditional weaving to the women in her spare time!


What you can do to help

However, for this work to continue, we need to fill out our budget for 2019. We have won prestigious grants from National Geographic and Foundation for Endangered Languages, validating our work as valuable. And, we count on real people like you to keep us strong.  Our program costs include the teacher’s salary and transport to this remote area by bus, airplane, and boat.


In 2019 we will expand our work to include creating a ground-breaking and much-needed audio course in Emberá for Spanish speakers…which is super exciting! An Emberá librarían is committed to working long and hard, and while she’ll do it as a volunteer, we would love to offer her a modest stipend as this will take a year of detailed work.  We will share the course for free via cell phones to reach widely to all corners of the Emberá lands.


Other ways you can help

As well as giving financially, please do share this with your friends and contacts! We are on Twitter (@soambapanama), Facebook (@soambapanama) and Instagram (@soamba.panama).




Keep at it!


Elizabeth (Betsy) Cavendish



Clifton Kellogg

Buena suerte!


Ramona G Tarkington-Deal

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