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