This month, we are sharing the insights we’ve learned through more than 20 years of partnership with the indigenous people of the Ecuadorian Amazon rainforest. Most importantly, we’ve learned that what happens in the Amazon affects all life on Earth. Our fates are interconnected—we are all the Amazon.
Today’s message is from Isabel Wisum—the Vice President of the Achuar Nation of Ecuador—who in November, travelled to the U.S. for the first time to bring her message from the Amazon rainforest to attendees of our Annual Luncheon in San Francisco. Please read her special message presented at our Luncheon on November 15.
I was born in a community called Maki right near the Ecuadorian and Peruvian border. My father had two wives, and 19 children.
When I was 8 years old, in a tobacco ceremony with an elder, I discovered my power. I began to have a dream of becoming a powerful woman leader of my people. Years later, after I already had eight children, I was invited to a training to become a midwife to help women with their births through Pachamama Alliance’s Ikiama Nukuri program.
I gave birth to my children alone. I saw the importance of Ikiama Nukuri and joined the first training. I’ve now helped 50 women give birth to their babies in a safe and healthy way. As an Ikiama Nukuri community health worker, I have saved mothers’ and babies’ lives.
That training allowed me to become even more powerful and now I am the first elected woman leader of the Achuar nation. Women are now listened to in our culture in a way they never were before. Our opinion, our voice, is respected. I’ve inspired Achuar women to realize that their voice is important.
We, Amazonian women, are part of an unstoppable movement to defend our territory. Just two days ago, our women’s movement was in Quito, demanding a meeting with the Oil Minister. We have even met with our President.
We will not allow oil or mining in our territory or anywhere in our part of the Amazon.
I want to thank you for the partnership we have with the Pachamama Alliance. It has made us strong. It has given me and my sisters a voice, and we will not back down.
Maketai (Thank you in Achuar)
Vice President of the Achuar Nation and Ikiama Nukuri Community Health Promoter