Testimonial of Rosa Mercedes Chicaiza, of Dureno
We’ve lived here in the Amazon for about 20 years. We’re from the mountains of Santo Domingo. When we moved here, there were already Texaco oil wells, and open waste pits.
We dug two wells for water, but in both the water was mixed with oil.
We washed clothes in the river but the water was full of oil. We also bathed in the river which always makes you sick, gives you fevers, skin rashes, bumps. The oil wells were upriver and the petroleum flowed downriver, sticking to the riverbanks. When I was pregnant with Myra, I bathed in the salty production waters.
Myra is 15, and she’s very sick. She was born that way, not moving, with soft bones. The doctors were never able to tell me what was wrong with her.
Now she can sit up, pull herself along the floor, turn over. She says “mama,” “papa” and cries when she’s hungry or thirsty. She recognizes us and understands us but I have to feed her by hand.
As a mother, it is very difficult to take care of her. We all have to change her and clean her clothes. No one has ever helped us, except once the Catholic church gave us a wheelchair. Her brothers and sisters used to take her out, but now the wheelchair is too small for her. It would be nice if someone could donate a wheelchair so we could take her outside and she wouldn’t be trapped in this room.
The neighbors and their children stare at her. Sometimes people say that I shouldn’t take care of her. They say it would be better not to give her anything to eat. But I say, how could I not feed my own child?
Who wouldn’t love this poor little child? All of us, including her brothers and sisters, love her. And that’s why we don’t call her by her name, but instead call her “mama,” because she is the mother of all of us.
I know she won’t be with us on earth for long. She is very sick. This makes me sad for her, because we’ll never find a way to make her well.