By: Veronica Santa Fe, “Nunkui”.
FEBURARY 25TH, 2012
In late January, I left Tosagua with my body and spirit sick. Thank God and the love and care of my family, I soon got better. Promising taking care of my health, I returned to Tosagua on February 8th with the aim of strengthening Eden’s Rose’s projects and activities with children, as they are on vacation.
However, this became an afterthought because as soon as I got to Tosagua, I found a landscape full of floods and rain.
My family in Quito is worried and they asked me to return to the Ecuador’s capital. They do not want anything bad to happen to me. I understand the concern of my parents, but there is an inner force that tells me stay there. People need you. I am sure that this force comes from the soul of the earth and my grandparents who could feel the heartbeat of the earth. They taught me that every being in this world is connected with other beings in the world and through our hearts we can connect with the true nature.
It’s almost a year since Gregory and the panther’s spirit trusted me to be his partner in a mission that only God could have created it for me. Since then the Eden’s Rose Foundation, the San Ramon’s people’s projects and Elba Gonzalez in Tosagua have become my family.
The suffering and fear of the rain and floods came 1 month ago. Images of houses completely flooded, destroyed crops, dead animals floating in the water were in the news.
For 3 weeks we have not had water (Tosagua’s water is not safe for drinking and it is not suitable for human consumption) to prepare food, to drink and for cleaning ourselves. San Ramon’s people and Elba collect rainwater which serves them for drinking and cooking their food, they don’t have enough money to buy bottled water.
When I’m in Tosagua I stay at Cecilia’s house. Cecilia is the Macramé project’s director. Her house’s roof is made of zinc and every night the sound of rain makes me shiver and prevents me from sleeping well. Also at night the mosquitoes are out. The mosquitoes are dangerous because they carry Dengue fever or Malaria.
Before sleeping, I make a “little fire” honoring nature. I burn lignum vitae and meditate to ask that the same nature protects us. I have invited the adults to open a “ring of fire” to share the magic of life and nature, but for adults it is an act of “witchcraft”. The children like meditate by the fire. Despite the rain they ask me to dance in front of the fire. This is a tradition that I inherited the ancestral knowledge of the Andean and my father. Every time the heavy rains come, he makes fire to stop the rain.
Unfortunately, Manabí is a land of important pre-Hispanic groups in Ecuador. It is losing its identity. It wants to be part of a “modern” culture and leave its ancestral roots in the past. This is the challenge that the Eden’s Rose Foundation has taken on. The project reintroduces the macramé weaving tradition of Manabí. I hope that with agro ecology projects and ancestral traditions with children we can reacquaint these traditions that bring us closer to our true natural selves.
At the midnight last week Elba’s neighbors were screaming for help. The rain had flooded the homes of several families including Chavela and Socorrito’s homes. Chavela and Socorrito are two women who work on the macramé project. Another fear was the rise of the Chone-Carrizal River. This river is close to the community.
San Ramon another community where Eden’s Rose works. This is the area most affected by the winter rains. When I visit the area, I came across a desolate landscape full of water. The crops, which are their main income were destroyed. There is no water and no food. I went to San Ramon for the purpose of carrying milk and food for Analia and Jesus’ family as well as my godchildren. But my attempts to get their home were frustrated by the rise of the river. I was unable to go to the area. I was told that the water rose 1.5 meters and they cannot leave their homes.
My heart was full of sadness because of this situation. Jesus is a 2 year old boy with disability and he cannot move. I am very worried about him and my little child Analia is 9 months old. Before leaving the place, I went to the river bank, closed my eyes and asked river to allow me to understand water. I looked around and saw crops of a single product that is intended for industrial agricultural trade. I reflected that this monocrops require a large amount of chemicals that destroy and erode the land. This makes the land weak. Seeing these monocrops, I realized that the people in Tosagua lost its food sovereignty. There are no other crops to feed themselves. Now they depend on buying food at the supermarket. I understand the water does not hurt us. Man, by his actions has destroyed the Earth, our PACHA MAMA!
Along with the Eden’s Rose Foundation and the community working group in San Ramon, we began to plan actions to open the doors of the Basic Need Center. “Noah’s Ark”, a building made by Eden’s Rose to provide shelter in such disasters. Our planning was interrupted by the terrible news that two of the women who supported the construction of this building had drowned in a nearby river. My heart became weak to see that their three children were orphans.
Meanwhile, several people in the Elba Gonzalez community are concerned about the risk of serious flooding if the river rises. The fear is that the river is on the edge, and March will bring heavy rains. In addition, the people of this community are angry with the authorities. There are families that have left their homes and there is no shelter and no water for them. Another danger is Malaria. Due to the large amount of standing water, mosquito reproduction is at an all time high.
The disaster in both Elba and San Ramon is complicated due to the lack of a president in each community. In the case of San Ramon the president abandoned his post because his wife was very sick. He had to take her to Quito. The vice president was one of the victims of floods and he is suffering with Dengue. In the case of Elba, there is not a president since the legal period ended. The current situation has not allowed the community to meet together and choose a new president.
At this time Eden’s Rose work is important since the leaders of the communitie’s working groups have taken responsibility for organizing and coordinating actions to prevent and mitigate the effects of flooding in their communities.
Thank goodness there is a Basic Needs Center building “Noah’s Ark” in San Ramon. It serves as a refuge for families who are homeless. We are coordinating efforts with the central government to rescue and provide health care in this center. Women in the community, such as Esperanza and Angelita, as well as Yessenia, the Eden’s Rose’s macramé teacher are coordinating actions in this part.
In Elba Gonzalez, Cecilia has opened the doors of her house to coordinate emergency actions. Socorrito, who belongs to Eden’s Rose Foundation has joined her.
We know that there are 200 people with flooded homesand approximately 1000 people in San Ramon without water for human consumption. These people require food supplies.
For San Ramon, we have the Basic Needs Center building. The Risk Management Committee of Tosagua and the Ministry of Health are preparing to open a medical emergency room within the medical center to provide care to those affected people.
It is important to mention that the BNC Noah’s Ark is built on the sea level with concrete walls. It has four showers and bathrooms, 3 large rooms, and a communal kitchen. The Eden’s Rose Foundation has built the safest place for the San Ramon people to go.
For the community of Elba Gonzalez, it is important to mention that there are approximately 500 families who have no water for human consumption. Rain is causing a serious risk of malaria and the river is closer to the community. This is a greater danger.
I have reviewed the history of the Tosagua area and I found evidence proving my worries. Tosagua is the most at risk area in Ecuador due to the extreme droughts and floods. This is produced by the complete deforestation that took place 50 years ago. After all the forests were destroyed, the land was used for monocrops. Now the large number of chemicals has damaged the land and water.
Friends I share with you these important passages of my life. Where the spirit of nature in many of its manifestations has been my guide. Now when the nature startles me and causes pain, I know this is part of nature and that every action we do has an effect that affects the world (synchrodestiny). As in my life the three stones and Arutam opened my mind and made my heart receptive to the Gregory Sheldon’s story. He sat in front of me while I drank hot chocolate 1 year ago. He told about his dream in which a black panther was bringing him to Ecuador. His words had the force and truth of God and that made me go with him to Tosagua, my new home.
With faith and love everything is possible
One of our volunteers wrote a beautiful blog post on his experience with the Eden’s Rose Foundation in Ecuador:
Last summer, 2011, Kara, Jess, and I along with a handful of good friends went to the All Good Music Festival in West Virginia. A weekend spent with amazing people, amazing music, amazing experiences also happened to include Jess stopping by a vendor’s tent outside the music stage area. Drawn in by poles outlining the entrance stocked with beautiful handmade macrame jewelry, she struck up a conversation with the guy sitting inside the booth, Gregory Sheldon, from Albany, New York. Greg began explaining where the bracelets came from, who made, them, and where her money would go if she bought one. As their conversation continued, stars began to align.
Greg introduced Jess to the Eden’s Rose Foundation, a non-profit started by Greg a few years ago to promote gender empowerment, improve basic health, provide clean water, and support entrepreneurship to small communities throughout Ecuador and in the Himalayas. Naming his foundation after a close friend who had passed away in the states, Greg dove head first into creating a sustainable non-profit built on the principles of trust, honesty, and responsibility. Greg does not have a master’s in non-profit management. He doesn’t have a bachelors. Greg didn’t finish high school, let alone go to college. But when Greg sees people in need, he pours every ounce of his soul into finding a way to help. While telling Jessica all about Eden’s Rose in Ecuador, Jess brought up our plans to be traveling througout South America in the coming fall. “When you’re all in Ecuador, come on down to Tosagua and check out our work!” Of all our plans, or lack there of, througout our trip thus far, this was one we held true on….
To read the rest of the post please visit Dan’s Blog
I am traveling with my wife and her cousin on a 8-9 month backpacking/volunteering adventure from Colombia to Bolivia. I am originally from Baltimore, MD and Kara and Jess are from Bergenfield, NJ. My wife and I are both Naturalists in the states teaching Ecology, Outdoor Ed, and leadership to middle school – university students. I spent 2007-2009 in Senegal, West Africa as a Peace Corps Volunteer, and we met Greg and the foundation at All Good last summer.
The founder and president of the Eden’s Rose Foundation keeps us updated on action being taken in Ecuador. Identifying real present day issues that affect the people and working towards a permanent solution.
Hello everyone, I’m back in Tosagua Ecuador and everything is looking up. There is just something so special about the first ripples of success… it’s almost like the whole world smiles at the same time, from the big Sun up above to the dirt below and everything in between.
First off the weather here has changed seasons. Now the air is soft and sweet, as it had been harsh and unwelcoming. I remember days walking through waist deep flood water only to work for hours in the blistering heat and direct sun (fighting prehistoric mosquitoes the entire time). Now we have a nice light cloudy sky, tranquil days to work in calm nights to sleep. I can’t express how much this relieves some of the difficulties of our work here.
I have yet to thank the Mayor of Tosagua personally; however I would like to start by thanking her publicly for her support of our work here. Over the past week Elba, the mayor of Tosagua, has trucked in 7 loads of dirt to our basic needs center. For those of you that may be unaware our basic needs center is commonly known as ” Noah’s Ark”. This gift of time and materials and work hours is going to help make our center impermeable to floodwater that over take the community for several months each year.
This great success is due to the long hard work of our friends in the States, our people on the ground, the community, and now the government of Tosagua. The level of convergence being experienced here is unprecedented and the results of our unified focus in helping those children most in need are truly writing a story, our story, of which we may all revel in the success. Continue Reading →
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Visit the Macrame Project at macramebraclets.com. There you can learn about macrame, follow the direct trade macrame project and purchase beautiful macrame bracelets. This is a fun and exciting way to support the Eden's Rose Foundation.
Visit the Lama Chodpa Incense at lamacodpa.com. There you can learn about pure natural Tibetan monastic incense from the Himalayan village of Tashi Jong. It is 100 % natural and Handmade.. This is another fun and exciting way to support the Eden's Rose Foundation.