15 years ago, I travelled to Guinea-Bissau to visit Tiniguena, an organization that Inter Pares helped found back in 1991. Tiniguena means This land is ours! The organization is dedicated to protecting biodiversity and building a culture of active citizen engagement. I was excited and curious about all that I would learn. But nothing could have prepared me for the wonder I was about to experience.
Walking under towering mango trees in the village of Abu, on the island of Formosa, I got to know Augusta Henriques, Tiniguena’s founder. She was born in this village and has dedicated her life to protecting the incredible biodiversity of her country. There, we participated in a workshop bringing youth from the surrounding islands together to discuss ways to protect the islands resources.
Since 1993, Tiniguena organizes yearly learning visits where youth from Bissau travel to natural and cultural heritage sites across the country. With the slogan, “Conhecer para amar, amar para proteger” (one needs to know in order to love, and love in order to protect), young minds learn about their country’s history and its incredible cultural and biological diversity. As Augusta likes to say: “We were planting seeds. Seeds to awaken minds.” From these seeds was born Generaçoa Nova do Tiniguena, a youth association that amplifies youth voices through community radio, public events, art and music.
2021 will mark Tiniguena’s 30th anniversary and there is much to celebrate. As part of a coalition, Tiniguena was able to stop the establishment of a shipbreaking yard that would have destroyed the fragile coastline and contaminated the country’s rich fishing waters. And, in Augusta’s home islands, they helped establish the first-ever community marine protected area, also home to rare species including the manatee and the humpback dolphin.
But perhaps Tiniguena’s most lasting legacy is its work with Guinea-Bissau’s youth. Tiniguena has changed the lives of hundreds of youth who, today, are planting their own seeds of hope, of civic involvement, and of deep respect for life in all its diversity.
Thanks to your support, Inter Pares will continue to accompany Tiniguena, whose impact transcends generations.
Tiniguena has changed the lives of hundreds of youth.