Updated: Aug 16, 2020
Taken in 2013, this is one of my favorite selfies with my niece. For years, I'd browse through my albums and always pause when I came across this picture. I just love this photo and reminds me of the happy times, and how much fun it was to walk through the forest with my family. Never posted it before because it was blurry but was able to adjust it a bit. I am fascinated that this beautiful girl adorned with flowers in her ears and sticks in her face is a relative of mine and is my blood family.
My niece was always so happy and loved to joke around. Her goofy antics really lit up the room (or the shabono in this case). I remember, after walking all day through the jungle with a heavy pack carrying fragile equipment, we had taken a small break and I was exhausted, sweating, thirsty, a bit grumpy and hated each and every mosquito trying to attack me. But my niece was jumping around with a full smile and wanted me to come play with the kids. She was jubilant and full of energy and life. She wasn't "trekking" as I'd describe my experience. She was gracefully walking through the jungle of which it is her home, her playground, her security and identity. In that moment I had such deep admiration for my people and how they are so resilient in the forest.
She is a full grown woman now and I'm sure, on my next trip, she will be married with children. I miss my Yanomami family and hope to see them all soon.
To learn more about the Yanomami people and my work among them please visit jointhegoodproject.org