2_w265_s1Alexis Rodriguez, Culture Keeper from the First Nation Ngäbe-Bugle community in Costa Rica, is a singer and collector of oral tradition that has struggled for more than 30 years for the preservation of the language and worldview of his people. Jairo Sanchez is a culture keeper, traditional singer and maker of drums from the First Nation Bribri community, also in Costa Rica. He works with children and young people so that the knowledge and history of their music does not disappear.

6_w200_s1In 2016, Alexis and Jairo lead a cultural exchange at the 3rd  Annual LEAF Arts & Park Camp. During their time in Asheville, Alexis and Jairo met Adama Dembele.  Adama Dembele is a locally-rooted LEAF Culture Keeper, Teaching Artist, master musician, and mentor from Ivory Coast, West Africa.

“When we lose biodiversity our planet threatens their balance. When a language, a word, a unique idea disappears, we lose chances of success as a species.  We lose memory of words that we really need to heal and understand. Cultural diversity allows us to look at the same problem from different points of view; from different visions of our world. That is why we started using art and technology to tell people about the importance of preserving this heritage.”

-Luis Porras Mora, LEAF International Costa Rica Coordinator

What could these 3 Culture Keepers have in common?
What is happening in Costa Rica that relates to Africa?

The bond between Alexis, Jairo, and Adama is quite simple – heritage sustainability. Even though they are geographically from different parts of the world, their challenge to preserve the sacred land of their ancestors is the same.  The story of their lands hold the history of their heritage. Each of these culture keepers act as a catalyst in their communities to eliminate over-development and to protect their native plants, animal species, and natural resources. Dedicated to cultural preservation and the fostering of global citizenship, LEAF International empowers communities by supporting culture keepers – like Alexis, Jairo & Adama.

6_w265_s1Travel to Haiti with LEAF Staff and West African Culture Keeper Adama Dembele to understand how Haiti is working to preserve their land since Hurricane Matthew hit in October 2016!






Believing that cultural expressions provide a wealth of intangible benefits that are crucial for a healthy and vibrant world, LEAF International aligns with the UN System Task Team and the UNESCO Cultural Development Indicators in order to best measure impact for cultural arts education programs rooted globally. This particular post focuses on heritage sustainability. One of the underlying driving forces of LEAF International’s programming is to promote the passing of cultural traditions from one generation to the next. Communities facing rapid modernization and urbanization are at risk of losing important cultural traditions. By engaging youth in the creative expression of their culture, we contribute to the sustainability of diverse heritages around the globe.

For more information on LEAF International, please email international@theLEAF.org