How I GO Further
When I first came to visit the area contaminated by Texaco (now Chevron) in the Northern Ecuadorian Amazon back in 2006, I had a powerful, painful awakening. I had until then believed that right always prevailed in the end, that human decency led big corporations to look after the people they impacted. Sure I had read about and watched stories that proved me wrong, but it was all so far away. When I saw with my own eyes the contamination of ancestral indigenous lands and forest, unlined pits of crude oil and toxic waste, leaching into groundwater, smelled the streams and rivers stinking of oil, saw birds and animals dying of the contamination, I felt sick to my core, righteously indignant that this could not be allowed to happen. I sat with the ancestral owners of the land, the Cofan, Secoya, Siona Waorani, and Kichwa people and heard their stories of rich forests full of animals to hunt, plants that shaman used to cure any known ailment, rivers full of fish, and the peoples rich spiritual and cultural lives. The forest was their home, their pharmacy, their hardware store, their pantry, they lived in abundant harmony the forest, she sustained them physically and spiritually and they in return maintained and protected her, never taking more than they needed.
Then they told me about when the company arrived, no one asked their permission to enter their lands, they were not consulted when seismic testing cleared huge tracks of forest, when oil camps were built and drilling began, no one even bothered to learn their language. No one explained to them what was happening when the rivers ran black with oil, when the animals began to die, when the forest became silent. No one informed them that drinking the water, swimming in the rivers, coming into contact with the crude, eating plants, fish or meat would lead to miscarriages and horrific birth defects, cancer, infertility. Listening to these people broke my heart, caused me to examine many unexamined beliefs I held and made me deeply commit to supporting them in any way I can.
During the last 6 years I have watched the people courageously fight on, hoping and believing that justice will be done, I have seen the courts rule in favor of the people of the Amazon, I have seen Chevron refuse to pay. They are still refusing to clean up. The forest and water are still contaminated 40 years on. People are still dying.
Now the people are taking charge, they are not waiting for justice to be done, for Chevron to finally do the right thing. They have birthed this clean water project so that they can restore health and dignity to their communities. I am constantly humbled and inspired by the heros of the Northern Ecuadorian Amazon, Emergildo, Pablo, Donald, Marina and more, I am very proud to be able to support them and I am thrilled to be able to to ask you to support them too.