March 13, 2011

Rainforest Mother – Part 1

Ana is a remarkable Asháninka mother of twelve children and she is integral to the success of Cool Earth’s project to help save her rainforest. Now in her early 40’s, she married Cesar when she was just 16 years old, four years younger than her husband. Their first child, Javier, was born three years after they got together. The last child, Coaciti (“Little Hawk”) is only 2 years old.

Perhaps the most amazing fact about Ana’s motherhood is that all 12 of her children have survived a very difficult era in this Asháninka community’s history. After living in this part of the western Amazon for thousands of years, Ana’s community were temporarily displaced from their land by narco-terrorists in the late 1980’s. At that time, hiding from their enemy in less hospitable, higher altitude forest, Ana already had four very young children.

To call this a very difficult time for Ana and her children is clearly an understatement. The terrorists had killed some of Ana’s relatives and were searching the forest for other Asháninka who were resisting the guerrillas’ demand that they fight for the Maoist revolutionary cause. Ana had no access to gardens for food and, in order to hide successfully, was only able to cook on a fire by night. Otherwise, the smoke would have given away their position, deep in forest.


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