Jaqi Aru: Promoting and Preserving the Indigenous Language Aymara Through Digital Citizen Media

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Jaqi Aru: Promoting and Preserving the Indigenous Language Aymara Through Digital Citizen Media

$1,000 - $10,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Jaqi Aru engages indigenous Aymara youth in the creation of digital citizen media to promote and presrve their native language.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

During the colonization period of Andean history, the culture and the language of indigenous communities went through a process of marginalization, and this effect could be seen throughout recent history. In El Alto, Bolivia, a rapidly growing city comprised of migrants from the rural Altiplano, parents often chose not to teach the Aymara language to their children out of a belief that it was not necessary for educational or economic success. Children often resisted to learn the language of their ancestors out of a desire to be a part of what is considered to be mainstream Bolivia. Some of that is slowly beginning to change, but there is a definite need and opportunity to engage the young people, not only in Bolivia, but also the Aymara communities of surrounding countries and the diaspora (which totals approximately 5 million worldwide). Using the internet is one way to revolutionize the way that young Aymara see themselves reflected in this globalized world and help them connect with others regardless of geographic location.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

All young Aymara students have gone through the same experiences. When looking for information in the Aymara language on the internet, we find that there is little to no information content available. That is why the use and creation of our own digital media content forms the foundation of our work. The new ICT tools has made it easier for everyone to publish their own stories, upload photos of their rural communities, and more importantly, virtually connect with others. While the use of digital citizen media has been widely available, this may be one of the first attempts to use digital citizen media to promote and preserve the use of an indigenous language. While Jaqi Aru counts on a small, but growing community that meets in person on a regular basis, we hope to expand our virtual community with those Aymara that may live in surrounding towns, countries, and those that live abroad. The use of social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter has already allowed us to make huge strides and connecting with others who also want to share their language and culture.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Jaqi Aru encourages blogging in Aymara, translation of current event articles from Spanish to Aymara, and other forms of interaction via social networking sites. However, one activity that we have been spending a significant amount of time on has been the strengthening of the Aymara version of Wikipedia. In comparison to other sites, such as Wikipedia in Spanish which has 827,000 articles, Wikipedia in Aymara only has approximately 1,300 articles. While there has been some cases of translation of articles from Spanish, the Jaqi Aru team has also been promoting the creation of original content in Aymara, especially of topics of special interest to the Andean region. The majority of Jaqi Aru team members come from surrounding rural communities, and creating articles about these communities help contribute to the indigenous knowledge. Residents of these communities can play a major role in determining how they are represented online. Building and growing Wikipedia in Aymara also provides a valuable resources for educators to find information available in their own language, and in which they are also able to contribute. For many years, Wikipedia in Aymara has sat dormant without many contributors or editors, and now through this effort by Jaqi Aru there will be a greater focus and awareness on the possibility of adding content to this online encyclopedia and help attract other users.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

The internet allows for an incredible opportunity to attract collaborators, not only those living in El Alto or the Bolivian Altiplano. So far we have seen a number of individuals from Aymara communities, for example, in Puno, Peru and in northern Chile that have connected with us through our Facebook page. While we are still in the growth stage, we continue to invite them to participate in our activities and encourage them to create their own digital citizen media in the Aymara language. We do not consider ourselves to have competitors, since we just want to see more Aymara and other indigenous communities to create their own content in their own language. We believe that this is a replicable model and are always available to assist other groups wanting to participate in similar activities.
About You
Jaqi Aru
About You
First Name


Last Name


About Your Organization
Organization Name

Jaqi Aru

Organization Country


Country where this project is creating social impact


How long has your organization been operating?

1‐5 years

The information you provide here will be used to fill in any parts of your profile that have been left blank, such as interests, organization information, and website. No contact information will be made public. Please uncheck here if you do not want this to happen..

Select the stage that best applies to your solution

Growth (your pilot is up and running, and starting to expand)

How long have you been in operation?

Operating for 1‐5 years

Social Impact
FOUNDING STORY: We want to hear about your “Aha!” moment. Share the story of where and when the founder(s) saw this solution’s potential to change the world.

In 2007, two of the early founders of the Jaqi Aru project, Rubén Hilare and Dora Romero took part in the blogging workshops conducted by Voces Bolivianas. The two of them started to blog in the Aymara language, which at the time, were the first blogs available in the Aymara language. They soon passed on the experience to their fellow Linguistics students, who also expressed an interest in learning more about these digital media tools. In September 2009, a group of nine Aymara students met and started the Aymara virtual community "Jaqi Aru" (which means language of the people in the Aymara language) based in the city of El Alto, Bolivia. Since then, more and more young people joined the team and have started to create their own digital content. Seeing what they created appear in the first results on Google Search was such a powerful realization that they have the power to choose how their community is represented to the world. Receiving notes of gratitude and congratulations from Aymaras living abroad was also a powerful source of motivation and realization of the power of the internet to promote and preserve their language and culture.

Specify both the depth and scale of your solution’s social impact to date

Operating on an all-volunteer model, there have been 110 posts on the Jaqi Aru blog, 250 articles translated for Global Voices in Aymara, hundreds of photographs of Altiplano communities uploaded to Flickr, dozens of articles written for Wikipedia in Aymara, and daily interaction on the Facebook and Twitter accounts. Currently there are more than 250 Facebook fans, the majority of which found the community through virtual connections. This content has helped the visibility of the Jaqi Aru team reach more people, and as a result, we continue to receive invitations and requests for workshops and presentations in the use of these tools. It has also allowed us to grow and attract new members. We have an open-door policy that the general public is invited to attend our meetings and learn about these tools. We have about 40 active volunteer members, which has grown from the original nine members.

What is your projected impact within the next 1-5 years? Is your idea replicable? If so, how?

The hope is that when the internet reaches rural Aymara communities that they will find a wealth of content available in their own language. The connections facilitated by the internet will also help young people regardless of their geographic location feel that it is important and possible to maintain their indigenous roots and language, and find a supportive virtual community. We hope that the Jaqi Aru project will continue to add members and new partners to help support our work. We hope that the Aymara language does not only become a niche community online, but be a regular part of mainstream media. In Bolivia, there are 3 native official languages. We hope to be a resource for the Quechua and Guaraní communities to also be able to be represented online.

Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and mark growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact

We will begin plans to consolidate into a registered non-profit organization in Bolivia, allowing us to seek external funding.

Six-Month Tasks
Task 1

Submit the paperwork and find legal assistance to complete the requirements to be a registered organization.

Task 2

Seek partnerships to find institutional funding to be able to hire a full-time coordinator and administrative support.

Task 3

Launch a crowdfunding campaign to help cover the costs of the bureaucratic paperwork and core operating expenses.

Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone

Begin to systematically grow through targeted outreach and strengthening of institutional partnerships

12-Month Tasks
Task 1

Participate in outreach visits to the Bolivian Altiplano to identify young people that may want to join the project.

Task 2

Organize an indigenous languages and ICT conference to help bring interested individuals and institutions together.

Task 3

Hire part-time coordinators in each of the core program areas to help with this outreach and growth.

How many people have been impacted by your project?

101 - 1,000

How many people could be impacted by your project in the next three years?


Explain how your company, program, service or product is structured


What barriers have hindered the success of your project to date? How do you plan to overcome these and other challenges as you grow your solution?

Limited access to the internet continues to be a major challenge for the Jaqi Aru, since no team member has an internet connection at home. Even though there are internet cafes throughout the city, the cost continues to be prohibitive because of the volunteer-nature of the project. We hope to one day be able to open up our own center where volunteers could come to access the internet for work on the project. Since the project is run by volunteers, there are other daily needs that often take priority over the work of Jaqi Aru. We hope to be able to raise funds to hire individuals who can devote more time to the project and help its growth.

How do you see the information-technology and media sectors shifting over the next decade? How will your solution adapt to and/or drive that changing environment?

Even though large areas of the rural Altiplano where Aymara is spoken do not count on internet access, there will be one day. That is why it is important to continue to add digital content in Aymara so that those communities will not find the same lack of information in Aymara that we found during our early use of the Internet. We see these changes as a positive and will only help our ongoing mission.

Failure is not always an option. If your solution fails to gain traction in the next two years, what other applications of the idea could you explore?

If the availability of internet connection to some of these communities does not arrive as anticipated, there are options to work offline. For example, produce a version of Wikipedia in Aymara on DVD that can be distributed to rural schools. In those communities that are not connected to the internet, many residents do have mobile phones. We also would like to explore models to take advantage of mobile technologies.

Expand on your selections, explaining how you will sustain funding

All of the work is conducted by volunteers, although we do raise funds to help pay for internet access, internet café rental for our workshops, and other administrative and logistical costs. We rely on private donations to help pay for these expenses. In addition, we have started to raise funds through the sale of Andean laptop covers made by members of our team. We will also launch a massive crowdfunding campaign to help cover our budget for 2012. Once we have legally registered the organization, we will be able to accept funding from other NGOS and institutions.

Tell us about your partnerships

We have been collaborating with Voces Bolivianas, which has been providing technical assistance in the use of citizen media. We have also received logistical support with the Linguistics Student Center of the Public University of El Alto. We have also been working with the Wikimedia chapter of Bolivia in the work with Wikipedia in Aymara. We also have been working with Global Voices Online with the Aymara version of the website.

What type of team (staff, volunteers, etc.) will ensure that you achieve the growth milestones identified in the Social Impact section?

Jaqi Aru will always be a mostly volunteer organization. However, we see that there is a definite need to hire a small team of full-time and part-time staff members to ensure the project's growth and continued operation. This staff will help with fundraising, outreach, and the administrative operation of Jaqi Aru.

Changemakers is a collaborative and supportive space. Please specify any community resources you would need to grow and sustain your initiative. Select all that apply

Human resources or talent, Collaboration or networking, Pro-bono help (legal, financial, etc.), Innovation or ideas.

Specify any resources you might offer to support other initiatives. Select all that apply

Collaboration or networking.

Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren’t specified within the list
Define your company, program, service or product in 1-2 short sentences

Jaqi Aru is a team of Aymara indigenous youth using citizen media to promote and preserve the use of their language online.