Fredy Grefa: From the Ecuadorian Amazon to Chapel Hill

Fredy Grefa with his son, Yutzu, walking on the UNC campus.

Fredy Grefa with his son, Yutzu, walking on the UNC campus.

It’s a long way geographically from the small town of Coca, Ecuador, located in the Amazon rainforest, to Chapel Hill.

But it’s a long journey symbolically too — one that Fredy Grefa, a current master’s student in UNC’s city and regional planning department, knows all too well.

Grefa grew up in Coca and is a member of the indigenous Quechua (Kichwa) culture. When oil companies began moving into the region in the 1970s, development happened very fast.

“There were a lot of issues related to land rights, environmental issues and societal impacts,” Grefa said. “Indigenous people were losing their land and being assimilated rapidly by Western society.”

Grefa knew he wanted to help his people, to figure out a way to encourage oil companies to give them a voice in decision-making.

His dad told him that in order to have opportunities in life that he needed to get an education.

Read the entire article here: http://college.unc.edu/2013/12/10/fredy/

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