Glistening and glamorous after a quick shower, this young Embera girl reacts to the camera with false modesty. 

Born in one of the poorest villages of the Darien (Embera Puru), this girl's future is limited. Education is only available through primary school and she and her family must eke out an existence farming the poor soil around the village. 20 years ago the community was surrounded by lush jungle. Her grand-parents lived from hunting and gathering. Today an extension of the Pan-American highway -- a wide dirt logging road -- passes a hundred yards from the village center. The surroundings have been clear-cut by loggers and cattle farmers. There are few remaining forest resources. The leaders of her village hope for further educational opportunities and economic development based on eco-tourism.

Embera Puru, Darien, Panama

Jean-Philippe Soule 2001