Explorer, Naturalist, Writer and Photographer

Tribute to "MAMA PIRU", a remarkable woman.

People often tend to think that, to defend nature, you have to be some kind of soft soul like a saint. They could not be more wrong. I met Mama Piru when Alex Muñoz, in those days Oceana director for Chile, and myself were working hard on a project without precedent, aimed at preserving the cultural heritage of the Chilean coasts.

“What are you looking for?” she asked with a serious and straightforward voice. I replied: “I’m looking for somebody who doesn’t complain”. She said: “That’s me... Come in.. Take a seat there...” Some time after that, when I left Easter Island because I was finishing my book "Chile, Heirs of the Sea", she gave me a strong hug and spoke to me with a fixed gaze. “Claudio, I trust in you... Honor this island... People need to understand in order to take care of what they have.”

She was a pioneer of environmental protection, and dedicated her life to struggle for an island without garbage. For more than 20 years, she and her husband "Koro Tutuma", walked along the coasts of the island, equipped with nothing more than bags, collecting tons of plastic, glass and other garbage, coming from the different oceans of the world. Not even the sacred sites of her people escaped the contamination. Later on, she would inspire and train too teams dedicated to cleaning up the mess that others disrespectfully dropped on their way. Moreover, she created the only recycling plant on the island, something extremely necessary.

Today, has left us; the cancer does not discriminate. I will always remember her motto, reflection of her own essence: “I was born without garbage, and I want to live without garbage.” — Mama Piru

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