Writes: Alberto Romero
Lime. Yesterday, Tuesday, January 29, very early, we received a telephone communication letting us know of the death of Anna Emylia Montalván Rivera, a forestry engineer by profession, who worked at the Center for the Development of the Amazonian Indigenous (CEDIA) from 2006 to 2013. It was hard to believe that this was true, but those of us who knew that she was in poor health for months had to accept that this news was true. Painful, by the way.
We will always remember her as Annita, as we affectionately called her. If we wanted to paint his image and personality, we would say that it was the living expression of simplicity, kindness, fine treatment, sincerity and nobility.
Annita loved her profession and showed it in many ways, giving herself to it with determination and passion. I can think that he even put aside personal issues and comforts, to attend to requirements related to his trade, without caring about having to travel to remote areas, enduring adverse climates. It was not surprising to find Annita working in our Amazon in places like Atalaya, Alto Ucayali, then Nanay, then Pacaya Samiria and others, leaving her mark and professional quality in all of them. Without neglecting his trips abroad, seeking to perfect his knowledge and gain new experiences.
Those of us who were lucky enough to work alongside her witnessed the seriousness with which she approached her work, her punctuality and demands on herself and with those around her; without showing fainting or tiredness. Quite the contrary, haranguing and encouraging those who showed some unease.
How can one not remember those times in the San Antonio de Pintuyacu Native Community, located on the Nanay River, during Annita's visits to the forest plantations worked by the community members. The fact was that some of these plots were two or more hours' walk through the forest; then, she, determined, would put in front of the line of walkers, marking the rhythm of the step. Many community members were amazed at his strength and the physique he showed.
The other anecdote is related to the affection, empathy and respect that he knew how to earn from the people of the communities where he came to work. It happened in Mishana, a town also on the Nanay River, where Annita led a forestry and community organization project. The project had been completed and was monitored to assess its results. The people were consulted by a supervisor and the response was overwhelming, they asked that the project continue through a next stage, but only on the condition that Annita continues to direct it.
The last time I spoke to Annita on the phone, her voice had the same enthusiasm and dynamism, just as was her style. Always solicitous, eager to attend the service you asked for. However, near the end of the conversation he told me that it was wrong, but he did it in a calm and firm way, without showing anguish or discouragement. He was defiant in the face of the bad time he was going through. I understood her, because of her way of being and fighting against adversity, even knowing that she was at a disadvantage. That was Annita: strong, persevering, brave and full of courage.
I'm not asking Annita to rest. I am sure that in the other dimension, where she is now, she will continue to show her vitality and skill. My request is rather for those of us who remain here: let us always remember her and keep her alive in our thoughts. The best tribute we can do to her is to emulate the virtues and values that Annita always showed us.