DISPLACEMENT AND CONFINEMENT:Today Colombia has one of the highest number of persons internally displaced by violence in the world. By official statistics, there are an estimated 6.5 million people displaced by the armed conflict in Colombia. According to the United Nations High Council for Refugees (UNHCR), in Colombia thirty five ethnic groups are in danger of disappearance, among them the Embera and the Wounaan.They have been displaced, kidnapped and murdered by leftist guerrilla groups, right wing paramilitaries, and the Colombian army, and are threatened by national and multinational corporations that are implementing megaprojects on their lands. They are also living in extreme proverty, the Colombian goverment has abandoned them. The goverment has signed agreements that have not become effective. The Embera and the Wounaan peoples are asking the Colombian government to protect their lives, cultures and properties. Not only have they suffered the physical consequences of war, but the legacy and cosmogony of these native peoples are at risk of disappearing forever. We exist because of our ancestral roots. Since 2011, I have been documenting the crisis of forced displacement and confinement suffered by these indigenous communities. My investigation of the Embera displacement has grown to the point that I created a project entitled Akadoi Ebera / Hope of the Embera. Akadoi Ebera is my most extensive documentation and current project.
EMBERA: Last year, 2778 embera were displaced from their native territories of Choco, at the North-West Pacific Coast of Colombia, due to the ongoing combats between the guerrilla group the National Liberation Army ELN and by the paramilitaries Autodenfensas Gaitanistas who are fighting to control the drug tracfiicking in the area.Today,there are still 554 embera confined by the land mines planted by the guerrilla in their surroundings who has lost their crops and cattle due to their situation and who need doctors and food. And 2500 displaced Embera living in the poorest neighborhoods of Bogotá and other cities in Colombia, where they suffer unemployment and many humiliations. Some Embera are begging for food, some live in residence hotels, and others have been moved by the government to facilities where they receive food and medical attention. In one extreme case, forty nine Embera are living on a landfill assigned to them by the Colombian Government in Granada, Meta.
AKADOI EBERA/ HOPE OF THE EMBERA PROJECT: Akadoi Ebera / Hope of the Embera is a traveling exhibition in Colombia and United States that seeks to mobilize help for this indigenous community. Akadoi Ebera- includs photographs, video and a book about heritage. This project has been able to help with:
Food and medical care for 699 Embera displaced and confined in Puesto Indio: :On July 18, 2014 American photo-journalist, Stephen Ferry and I travelled to the deep jungle of Choco to document the situation of 2775 Embera displaced by the combats between the guerrilla group National Liberation Army, ELN, and paramiltares Autodefensas Gaitanistas.The ELN planted landmines on their surroundings leaving them confined. The documentation of 699 Embera refugees on the village of Puesto Indio was presented to the Victims Unity of the Colombian goverment, in Quibdo. Since then, the Victims Unity has been providing food suplies and few medical care campaigns to the refugees.
Medical care for the Embera who are living in the Patio Bonti landfill: A team of two doctors, two translators, a videographer and a photographer travelled to Meta, Colombia to provide medical care to thirty-nine Embera indigenous people living on the Patio Bonito landfill. During their visit, they also provided medicine to other indigenous communities displaced in the area, among them Sirianos, Tucanos, Piaroas and Pijaos. Selected sponsors of the NGOs Volunteer Voyagers and Center for Personal Restoration and various private donors participated in this event organized by the Akadoi Ebera project.
Water filters for the embera living in the landfill :Students and professor of the school of Engineering Rose Hulman Institute of Technology are working together to create a system of water filtration for the people living in the landfill. Professor Steve Wolf from Indiana State used a residual gas analyser to study samples of water from the contaminated water at the landfill. Two water filters were donated to Patio Bonito landfill in 2013 by engenierring Bryan Corell.
Blanket drive for the 280 embera retuning to their native territories (clik on to read article PGS 48-49) 250 blankets were made and collected by students and teachers at Sugar Grove Elementary Shcoool, Wodrow Wilson Midle School and North High Sullivan for the 280 Embera Katio who returned to Alto Andagueda, Choco, in December, 2013. Money donated by privated donors and Rose Hulman Institute of Technology, Baesler's market, Fitrst Financial Bank, and DeBaun Funela Homes to transport the blankets to the jungle.