Colón Piaguaje and Fanny Payaguaje live in the community of Siekoya Remolino with their three daughters, Maricela, Mildred, and Ñumi Yasü.
Colón grew up in a Secoya society negatively impacted by industrial activity, deforestation, and colonization. As a young man wanting to make a difference for his people, Colón left his community to study nursing in the city of Ibarra. He has worked as a nurse for 30 years. He is the only nurse in all of Secoya territory, which keeps him very busy. He spends around five days every week away from his family working at the health center in San Pablo. His role provides him with unique insight into the importance of clean water for people’s health. He considers skin conditions, diarrhea, respiratory problems, and malaria as the main health problems affecting the Secoya. He owes skin conditions and diarrhea to the lack of access to clean water. Colón believes it is vitally important that all Secoya have clean water systems next to their homes. In his community many families have to walk very far to get water, much of which is not clean. He is optimistic that the Secoya people’s health will improve with the addition of ClearWater systems.
Photo: Alex Goff
Fanny prefers her forest home to cities like Lago Agrio. She makes traditional jewelry and clay pots; a practice she says is being forgotten. The pride Fanny feels for her garden is evident in the attention and care and she pays to raising a balanced variety of crops. She grows vegetables and spicy peppers and raises native fish, which she claims are better for the balance of the garden than the non-native species raised by many families. In addition, she grows an impressive variety of medicinal plants and uses these to treat her children when they get sick. Interestingly, despite her husband’s profession as a nurse, when one of her daughters came down with dengue fever, Fanny refused to send her to the health clinic and healed her using a traditional plant-based Secoya remedy instead. Fanny is very happy about the new rain catchment system next to their home. Now her daughters have clean water to drink, and she will be able to prepare chicha for the community mingas.