People and Plants International - Sacha Warmi Center
Cantón Arajuno, Provincia Pastaza, Ecuador
8 months

“I ask the young people to look back, to look for the history of our elders, to rediscover our roots. Looking back does not mean getting stuck in the past, but rather knowing the good things that were there when our elders lived. Powerful women, teachers, grandmothers, healers…many things that have been lost. That worries me a lot. I feel that it is getting out of hand. If all that knowledge is lost, we will not have own identity, we will not belong here or there. Our territory is so extensive. In it live all beings: the spirits of rivers, lagoons, mountains, plants, animals. All these spirits live in these shapes. This makes everything work in harmony. That’s why we should have respect for everything in our territories. ̈

—Rosa Canelos

This project promotes an intercultural dialogue between Kitchwa traditional medicine (the Association of Midwives of Arajuno) and western medicine (the Arajuno Health District), as well as encouraging an exchange of experiences, practices and traditional knowledge among midwives. These Amazonian Kitchwa communities have always had complex traditional health systems that have allowed them to care for themselves, but since the arrival and dominance of the western health care model these traditional practices have been weakened almost to the point of extinction. In the specific case of midwives, traditional practices have not only been devalued by the official health care system, but new laws and policies have placed heavy restrictions on the practice of midwifery and threatened to extinguish a wealth of traditional health and cultural practices. Strengthening the traditional health care system within these communities is an important step for self-determination and autonomy. It also opens the possibility for true interculturality in health care, one that respects the ancestral wisdom of Indigenous people and the health and balance of the global life system in the Amazon.


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