By Kathryn Bock
SC Opinion Edior
No more than a month ago, David Good returned from a trip to the Amazon Rainforest of Venezuela where he visited his mother.
Good is a former East Stroudsburg University student, anthropologist, founder of The Good Project, and a Yanomami-American.
Good’s father, Kenneth, was an anthropologist that spent time studying the Yanomami people.
Upon staying there he met and fell in love with Good’s mother, Yarima.
Kenneth and Yarima would eventually marry, move back to the United States, and begin a family.
Yarima missed the jungle and her family. She returned to the Yanomami after a few in the United States.
Good’s mother, Yarima, is a member of an indigenous tribe of people known as the Yanomami.
The Yanomami are an isolated indigenous tribe, occupying land from Venezuela to Brazil.
The Yanomami are semi-nomadic people who use slash and burn horticulture. They are also considered hunter and gatherers.
Good left November 4, 2013 to reunite with his mother and the rest his Yanomami family.
“I was eager and ready to learn to be a real Yanomami, I wanted to do everything the Yanomami did,” says Good, “I did not fully expect to run into difficulties.”
Good was stopped by a fraction of the Venezuelan government who accused him of several things, which would stop the project.
“They had such outlandish stories, from me being trained by the CIA, to being a part of movement to rig the upcoming elections,” says Good.
“It was heartbreaking- people who I thought were my friends and supporters turned out to be my opponents.”
Good had been originally accompanied on this journey by CBS who had intended on composing a story for 60-minutes that was to premiere on Mother’s Day.
On reaching Venezuela, the 60-Minutes crew was not permitted to continue to the journey with Good.
This did not stop Good. He continued on his expedition to reunite with his mother.
Finally arriving in the port town of Puerto Ayacucho, Good states, “It was great to see everyone again. There had been so much difficulty getting there but it didn’t matter. I knew I was with my family again.”
While in the jungle, Good and his mother, Yarima, talked of life back in America.
Yarima expressed that she missed New Jersey, Pennsylvania, pizza, French fries, and peaches.
“This was the first time my mother had expressed interest in going back to the USA, she wants to see her family,” said Good.
Also while in the jungle, Good used the time to adapt to Yanomami lifestyle.
“Last trip I wore shoes more often, was a little isolated, and did not participate in every activity the Yanomami did,” said Good. “This trip however, I barely wore shoes, I hung my hammock by the rest of my family, I went hunting, I went fishing. I did the tasks of both the women and the men, I wanted to learn everything.”
Good spent about a month in the Amazon Rainforest with his Yanomami family.
When asked his favorite part of being Yanomami Good said, “the Yanomami live how people are supposed to live- no stress, no depression, no loneliness, no anxiety. No form of advanced modern technology could make me as happy as the Yanomami lifestyle. The trip taught me, everything is good and everything is going to be okay.”
“I am also using my relationship with my family to act as a trustworthy bridge for the Yanomami. They have also asked me to teach them to read, write, and speak in Spanish. It is not a one-way road though, I can teach them so much, but the Yanomami teach me how to truly live,” said Good.
Now that the founder of the Good Project is back in the United States, he is organizing a service-learning trip, which includes East Stroudsburg University students, to the Chirripo Mountains in Costa Rica.
Here we will visit another remote indigenous group, the Cabecas.
To learn more about David and The Good Project follow him @TG_Project, like his Facebook page, or check out his website” www.jointhegoodproject.com
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