Filomena, at 49 years old, is an outspoken elder in the indigenous Awá community, an environmental activist, and a passionate community leader. She was born and raised on her ancestral homelands on the northern border between Ecuador and Colombia. She has witnessed decades of destruction from palm oil plantations and illegal mining on their territory, and has for decades fought to protect their lands and way of life.
By day, she is a crafter and vendor, selling homemade food and souvenirs on buses and in the streets. At night she is studying to become a nurse, to bring better healthcare to her community. With few jobs available in the area, the Awá have been heavily impacted by nearby illegal mining at Buenos Aires, the only source of income for many, but at times, at the cost of their lives. Filomena is deeply poetic and outspoken, and harshly realistic about the future of her people in the shadow of large scale mining.
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The Awá nationality are people, equal to other human beings. But others mistreated us, saying that we are Indians, we are Indians…