More than twenty men hired by an oil company hacked through the Ecuadorean jungle. Suddenly, they found themselves surrounded by a large group of indigenous people called the Cofan. The newcomers were clearly outnumbered. In the last five years, several oilmen had been beaten or killed by various tribes inside the jungle.
The oilmen were preparing for the worst, but nothing happened. The tribesmen just stood there silently until a blond, blue-eyed man emerged from their group.
The white man spoke to the oilmen in perfect Spanish, telling them that they weren’t welcome in the jungle. He then told the Cofan people to detain them. They put the oilmen onto their canoes and brought them to their village. Instead of beating them, the white man, whose name was Randy Borman, gave the newcomers a long lecture on how oil drilling was destroying the forest before releasing them.
As the son of American missionaries, Randy grew up deep in the jungle amongst the Cofan people. When his parents decided to leave the jungle, Randy went off to high school in the city, but later returned to the jungle. He couldn’t believe what he saw. Where 500 Cofan people once lived, 30,000 settlers had moved in, all working for the oil industry. Randy decided then that he would reject modern-society and instead spend his life fighting for the protection of the forest.
Tribes in the Amazon depend on the jungle to survive. When oil is discovered, roads are built and thousands of workers flood in. Animals that once lived in these places begin to vanish as they move deeper into the forest, and the plants and trees are destroyed.
Randy happened to be exactly what the Cofan needed. He spoke English, Spanish and Cofan, which helped him to get his foot in the door with governmental agencies. Randy straddled both worlds. He married a Cofan woman, had three sons with her and felt in his heart that he was a member of the tribe. At the same time, he took trips into cities to fight for their rights.
Randy, now in his fifties, is credited by his tribespeople with single-handedly saving the Cofan people. In the 80s, many assumed the Cofan would die out. Now they are not only surviving, but thriving. They control six times the land they did in the nineties, but the future is always uncertain. Randy’s mission to protect the people of the forest becomes more urgent every day.