Cool Earth works with indigenous communities to keep trees standing. Over the next few weeks we’re going to tell you Telma’s story and how she helps safeguard the endangered Amazon rainforest as part of her daily living.
Telma is 22 years old and already has two very young children. She lives in the Amazon with her husband, Micky, in a small wooden hut, just yards from her parents’ house and equally close to one of her older sisters, Chavoka, who herself has five sons and daughters between 2 and 14 years of age.
Most days, Telma will get up around 5am, an hour or so before the sun rises. It’s lovely and cool at this time of the morning, good for spinning cotton, fetching water from the river and stoking the fires to get breakfast cooking. By 6.30, Telma’s family will be eating roasted tubers from the manioc plant on woven reed mats around the fire. This is their staple food which they eat with every meal. If Micky or his father-in-law have been out fishing, they may also share out their catch after boiling or roasting it. Telma and her family are always very careful to make sure that everyone will get their share. There’s only one table in this sector of the village and few chairs, so most meals are eaten at ground level.
The rest of the morning is usually taken up with washing clothes on rocks by the river and looking after the children. For Telma, though, the afternoons these days are often spent on paperwork and meetings for her new job as treasurer of TSIMI (the Asháninka Bioclimatic Association). In the last few months, Telma has learnt how to keep accounts and operate a bank account. Until a few weeks ago, she had never used a telephone.
Micky is roughly the same age, but has only just finished secondary education because he used to live about three hours walk through the forest, a long way from the school. A couple of months ago, Micky was bitten by a snake while he was working in their garden. The bite was so bad that the whole family travelled 100kms to find a specialist healer who put Micky on a special diet and told him to in particular to avoid eating chilli peppers, red meat and salt. In a couple of weeks, Micky recovered well and they have recently returned home to their village, Cutivireni.
Over the coming weeks we will describe Telma’s daily life and her work with TSIMI, part of Cool Earth’s project to help three Asháninka communities conserve their forest.