Boundaries don't protect rivers, people do. That was the message that filled the air during a week of solidarity for river-protectors at the “Rivers for Life” meeting in Temacapulin, Mexico. The week saw more than 300 people from over 60 countries gather to raise their voices over the threats that face the rivers and those who depend on them. This event brought together dam-affected people and their allies to share experiences, discuss strategies and uplift one another through the struggle. Our amazing hosts the villagers of Temaca – who themselves are in a battle to save their town from being flooded by a big dam – were amazingly welcoming to us all. Despite the language barriers they tried to make us all so comfortable and welcomed, it was difficult to tell that these same hosts who so generously shared their houses and their meals with us were also in a struggle against the El Zapotillo dam, which would wipe out their homes, culture, livelihoods, and unique history.
In that one week in Temaca, I moved from one venue to another, joining discussions and being part of the plenary, sharing experiences and discussing strategies, creating networks that not only support our different struggles but give strength to face the challenges ahead. When sharing meals we engaged in informal discussions of our various struggles; the struggles that bring us together in a movement that tells us “we are not alone”, what we go through others went through. A Portuguese woman’s story of being displaced from her home in the name of development, a dam development that saw her lose her social fabric, a story that brought tears to my eyes, a situation she would not wish on even her worst enemy. Yet she did not succumb to the suffering, she uses her story to give the world the strength and a purpose.
Posters hanging on different walls reminded us of those who have gone before us and were in the struggle; from Chief Kapika of the Himba people in Namibia, to John Muir of the United States. There were so many reminders that this is a broad global movement for the protection of world waters, a movement that knows no boundaries; it is a global movement for the protection of humanity. As I listened to fellow women narrate their stories and their challenges in the struggle, I am able to identify with their stories, being the youngest generation among these strong women, I feel privileged to shake hands and share an embrace with such strong people.
As the days turned into nighst, we gathered together after dinner, and after sharing stories of the struggle we turned down and shared cultures through song and dance, tea and tequila, we got on stage and shared the African energy with our comrades from India, Turkey, Canada, Australia, Honduras, China, Brazil, Paraguay, Bolivia and most of all the people of Temaca.
And now we are back home, we have created new networks, strengthened existing partnerships and made firm the fabric that binds us together, I am filled with strength and inspiration, and as I look forward to Rivers for Life 4 –next time to be held in the mother land. I look forward to sharing the story of my victory, which I know will come, and to listen to stories of more victories in the struggle to protect the World Rivers.
For now, Aluta Continua!!!!