“To protect the knowledge of the Shipibo people is to protect their way of life.”
The first of its kind in Peru, Nii Juinti is an experiential school where Shipibo children are trained to be healers and masters of traditional plant medicine. Through planting, identification and knowledge of medicinal and master plants*, as well as instruction on preparing traditional medicines, the children connect and integrate with the spirits of the plants and become guardians of the natural world.
The students also learn their traditional language, songs, drawing, embroidery and inlay work—all of which nurtures strength, consciousness and pride in their identity. This connection and knowledge also offers them the possibility to stay and live in their territory instead of feeling obligated to search for work in a big city, where so many of their people live on the margins.
While Nii Juinti school most directly benefits its students, the rewards of this project extend to the entire community of San Francisco de Yarinacocha. For when the children return home from school, they notice the absence of plants around their homes and ask their parents, prompting others in the family and community to begin to plant, to remember, to reclaim and honor this vital knowledge.
*The term ‘master plants’ refers to powerful plants through which a human being can connect with Spirit and become transformed through the medium of the plant.