Throughout the mountainous highlands of Ecuador, Kichwa communities—indigenous to the region—struggled to access water, even when it was available. Forced to “take” what was previously theirs, communities didn’t know it was their right. This is part of the legacy from the Hacienda System, an estate system where property was divided and laws were written in Spanish, so Kichwa speakers would not understand or even know about the existing laws. As Mercedes Naula shares, she and her family abided by what they knew—namely, that the hacienda owner had complete control over land and resources.
This how Mercedes came to learn otherwise and realize her rights, including the right to clean water.