The women head into the mangroves.
Photo: Angello Faccini (Jungles in Paris)

There’s a scared kid inside all of us. That’s the first thought I have as I watch Dulce, a documentary short about climate change, and the ways it’s forcing Afro-Colombian women along the Pacific Coast to adapt to rising sea levels.

The opening scene features young Dulce, a girl who appears no older than seven, crying as she learns to swim. Now, I am definitely not the best swimmer, but swimming is more than a recreational activity for Dulce and the other kids in her village of La Ensenada, Colombia. For them, it’s a matter of life or death.

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As a fishing village, much of their time is spent on boats. The villagers use them to harvest the piangua, a cockle that hides in the muds of the mangroves, which the women both eat and sell. It’s been their way of life for generations, but today, the reality of rising sea levels and higher tides threatens the very existence of villages like this.

Today, the water can sweep their villages away at moment. Other Colombian communities have seen their homes destroyed due to floods.

“Can you imagine if one of these days the water rises so high that the house falls while we’re inside the house,” Dulce’s mom, Betty, asks her while doing her hair in the film. “Those who can swim know what to do. And those who don’t?”

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“They drown,” Dulce said, acknowledging that person would be her in this awful hypothetical scenario.

The 10-minute documentary gives viewers just a taste of Dulce’s world. It’s beautifully shot and offers moments of silence—to ponder perhaps, or to imagine being in their shoes. Produced by Conservation International and filmmakers Jungles in Paris, the short has already won Best Documentary Short at the 2018 Palm Springs International Shortfest. Its message around climate change—and who it’ll hit hardest—resonates with people.

“Whether you’re talking about climate change or water issues, vulnerable communities are at the forefront,” said Anastasia Khoo, an executive producer on the short with Conservation International, to Earther. “And women are no exception to that.”

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Around the world, women take up difficult tasks (like collecting these shells) to provide for their families. As the main caretaker for their families, they’ll be the ones most impacted by climate change. Dulce reminds us of this truth.

The film is still going through the festival circuit, so you’re gonna’ have to catch it wherever it heads next to watch it yourself. In the meantime, enjoy this trailer.

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