The world has moved away from nature and the consequences are dire. Indigenous people can reconnect humans and nature through tangible benefits as well as educating future generations about the interconnectedness and power of nature in our lives. Forests are the lungs of the Earth, and bees are needed for forests to thrive
Sustainable restoration of the Chewa ancestral foods, healing practices, and livelihoods among children and youths along the Chisitu Watepwa wetlands in Zambia aims to Influence ancestral wisdom bankers, traditional think tanks, and traditional herbalists (adults and elderly people) to pass-on the skills and knowledge to new generations of children and youth. Additionally, to preserve our precious sustainable eco-friendly habitat providing viable livelihoods for the natives of Kalichero community so as to preserve the Chewa traditional “sacred” food, healing practices, and medicines.
These foods and herbs include:
Chisonkonye – sausage from pumpkin seeds
Katate – for healing wounds, drenching the stomach, and purifying the eyes from the effects of measles.
Suntha (cat whiskers) & Bata (Amaranthus) – to replenish blood loss, prevent anemia, reduce the accumulation of cholesterol in the bloodstream; and prevent heart diseases, stroke, cancer, and diabetes.
Fish intestines & snake bean fruit (Kasokolowe) powder – to protect fowls from Coccidiosis.
Prickly Cactus (Opuntia ficus-indica – to treat Type-2 diabetes, high blood pressure; and for use as a diuretic to prevent kidney, prostate, and urinary infections.
We plan to transfer Indigenous ancestral wisdom to children and youth, including various healing methods, species cultivation and preparation, and dietary practices. Preservation of the Chewa cultural practices is imperitive for the sustenance of the Kalichero people and also for the creation of awareness about the ways in which the earth continually supports us, individually and collectively. The project strives to replenish the lost “Ancestral Super Foods,” revive Indigenous ancestral wisdom and healing theories, restore rich biodiverse ecosystem (nutritious fish and medicinal aquatic weeds), and procure ancestral livelihoods to benefit the Kalichero community.
“Training a child at childhood to specialize in appropriate ancestral wisdom preserves cultural identity, ensures prosperity, improves health and wellbeing, and protects Indigenous ancestral wisdom, food, and healing practices for self-sustenance” – Chewa policy.
How we do it:
- Train 50 children and youth of mixed gender in viable and sustainable Chewa ancestral food and healing practices to pass-on the ancestral wisdom; and equip children and youth with effective leveraged health services. We will train the trainers—50 youths will educate 10 people each and lead community mobilization in planting ancestral and medicinal plants.
- Mobilize 500 people to plant and protect 10,000 medicinal plants, foods, and edible herbs along Chisitu Watepwa; and engage community participation in care, restoration, and scale-up of Watepwa eco-friendly biodiversity.
- Restock 25 fish ponds and seven bodies of water to enhance sustainable livelihoods and ensure project sustainability and continuum after Sacred Fire Foundation grants funds phase-out. This activity will revamp ancestral livelihoods and improve nutrition, health, and wellbeing of the community.
Challenges currently being faced in the community are high rates of sexually transmitted infections, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, coronary infections, low immunity, and pre-natal/post-natal related deaths among women and girls.
To avert hunger and poverty during COVID-19 lockdown women and girls exchange reckless unruly sexual activities for money or food to survive. 85% of women who sneaked out to the bush, forest, or farm reported being raped or engaging in illicit (extra-marital) sex to survive. 70% of such victims contracted sexually transmitted infections including HIV. Massive quantities of Indigenous herbs and medicinal plants have been uprooted in the process to cure sexually transmitted infections amid COVID-19 as clinics do not have drugs due to the closure of borders. Therefore, ancestral medicinal practices and food are urgently needed to cure people infected with various diseases during the COVID-19 pandemic in Kalichero.
A total of 570 people are direct beneficiaries of the project, including 550 youth of mixed gender. 275 females and 275 males, aged 14 to 29 years. Ten men and ten women will participate as project implementers, ancestral wisdom facilitators, peer educators, and youth mentors.
By the end of the project, 60% of the beneficiaries (children and youth) will have access to beneficial information on ancestral food and healing practices. 60% of the beneficiaries (children and youths) have all year round household owned ancestral food security. 60% of the beneficiaries have viable and sustainable non-wood improved livelihoods (fish) and are sustainably earning a continued income flow from the fish farming and integrated medicinal woodlots all year round. There will be a 40% improvement in people’s wellbeing. Type-2 diabetes, high blood pressure, enlarged prostate, coronary infections, and snake bite-related deaths will reduce by 40% among beneficiary households due to readily available, affordable, and effective ancestral wisdom, foods, and healing practices. This will enable beneficiaries to earn $3 USD per day, invest $3 USD per day, and save $3 USD per day (3-dimensional impact = reduced poverty) by the end of the project.
It is important that this project should echo a positive perception to the rest of the world to correct the negative impression that indigenous Chewa people are backward low-class people, but instead to portray the Indigenous Chewa People as elite experts with diversified eco-friendly ancestral wisdom, healing methods, and livelihoods which effectively benefit people individually and collectively. Additionally, to pave a good roadmap for health researchers and nutritionists who want to explore the efficacy of various Chewa ancestral/traditional medicines and/or foods to come and learn or experiment with our ancestral wisdom to benefit mankind worldwide.