Leaving an uninspiring office job, Debora Linga received support from CTA to set-up her own NGO, Tribal Peoples Development in Suriname. Thanks to her Saramaccan tribal origins, she is able to truly apply a participatory approach to development. We caught up with Debora to learn how she is generating lasting impact in her local community and how CTA is involving indigenous people in the development of solutions to the issues they face.
How did you first get involved in participatory 3D modelling (P3DM)?
I first started working with CTA in 2014 as a facilitator for P3DM exercises within my local community. The project involved 220 Saramaccan residents in the production of 3D maps and other data sets of the Upper Suriname River. Up until this point, I had never worked in a participatory process and I liked the way people from the community were fully involved, rather than just told what they needed to do. I thought, this is the way I want to work with communities. This is what I want to keep doing.
How did CTA support you to realise your ambition?
CTA supported me to coordinate my first participatory process and gain the relevant experience I needed to set up my own P3DM NGO, Tribal Peoples Development, in 2015. It’s nice to work with people who value you for what you contribute and that’s what I felt like when I was getting this support from CTA – that they valued me for what I could do. When I did the first mapping workshop they saw that I was a good facilitator and I think they also saw that I had potential.
What inspires you to continue working with indigenous people?
Through my work I have seen the true benefits of participatory processes. Maps created using P3DM not only offer a valuable and accessible resource for spatial planning, but also act as a useful tool for mediating disputes over access to natural resources. About a week ago I was in the Upper Suriname River and I met a man who had participated in the P3DM project. He told me he had used a digitised version of the 3D map they produced to find a peaceful solution to land ownership disagreements between his village and the neighbouring communities. When I was working for the Ministry of Health, I reached a point where I couldn’t really see a future, I didn’t feel like what I was doing was contributing to anything. But now, working with communities and seeing the problems that they’re dealing with, and with the experience that I’ve gained, I feel like I can look into the future and change things.
To watch the full interview with Debora Linga, click here.