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Sunday Summary 26.05 — Celebrating those who inspire us

As many of us face the stress of quickly approaching deadlines, thesis submissions and the weight of feeling powerless in the eye of a humanitarian crisis, this Sunday summary aims to provide a much needed serotonin boost. In times of turmoil, It can be easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of media out in the digital space, which can shadow our minds and deplete hope. This is why this week we deem necessary to shine light on stories of resilience, innovation, and community that remind us of the progress being made, even in the face of adversity. 

This week, we celebrate the Muyuna — Floating Jungle Film Festival and the community of Belén for inspiring us. 

Born in the heart of the Amazonian Peruvian forest, this May the festival is being hosted by Belén, a remarkable floating city on the Itaya River in Peru.

Let’s delight as a city whose life revolves around water halts its daily routines to host a 10-day film festival advocating for the preservation of their home and culture.

The city is built upon stilts which account for the flooding in the area. Depending on the season, canoeing is the main source of transport. Life for the people of Belén poses various challenges, surrounding proper sanitation, electric distribution and overcrowding. Along with socio economic challenges they are on the frontlines of climate change, directly affected by flooding, droughts, and tornadoes. Much of the population of Belén comes from rural areas of the Peruvian Amazon and are part of various Indigenous groups, including the Kukama, Yagua, and Bora. This makes the themes explored in the festival deeply meaningful to their community and livelihood. 

The setup for this year's festival was entirely unique to Belén’s geographical challenges. The members of the Muyuna festival — muyuna in the Quechua language means “a whirlpool formed in mighty rivers” — set the screen on a 10- meter tall wooden structure. Their effort and ingenuity was rewarded as members of the community gathered in their canoes at night and from the windows of their homes to enjoy the films together. 

This festival is dedicated to showcasing the world's jungles in an effort to raise awareness and inspire action for their preservation. It features films that explore complex themes such as climate change, territorial defense, land stewardship, and the lives of indigenous communities. By capturing the importance of these underrepresented landscapes, the festival highlights that while jungles cover only 7% of the Earth's surface, they are home to up to 60% of its life forms. The intricate relationships within these ecosystems are not emphasized enough in the climate change dialogue.

The resilience of the people of Belén in working around their circumstances to advocate for their homes and culture, the innovation of the members of Muyuna in bringing this festival to the community, and the creativity of the filmmakers who brought these stories to life all contribute to a powerful narrative. This year's festival showcases the strength, dedication, and vibrant culture of a community determined to protect its future. Inspiring us all to follow suit. 

And to finalize, we commemorate Rafah Garden, a true testament of resistance and solidarity. Though it may no longer exist as a physical place, Rafah Garden was never merely a place, it is the people, it is the embodiment of unity in the fight for freedom and justice. Rafah Garden lives on. 

The students united will never be defeated.

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