I've been a psychotherapist in Seattle for the past 20 years, and am very interested in traditional medicines, and traditional wisdoms and how they can speak to the particular ills and challenges we're experiencing at this time.
While in the Amazon I met a woman whose specialty is using plant medicine to work with women at a most vulnerable and significant moment in their lives, during the birth process. She treats pregnant women, women post-partum and of course their newborns as well.
That's her in the middle of the photo. Angela.
She and I became friends and we now stay in touch.
Several weeks ago I received an email from her recounting how both Covid and Dengue have swept through her village. As a rural community with extremely limited access to medical care, many in her community have become ill and have since died. They leave behind children now parentless and/or children with no access to basic resources.
The situation in Peru, and more specifically with the indigenous Shipibo-Konibo people, is dire. According to an article in the Stanford Magazine:
"In the villages along the Ucayali River in eastern Peru, a fragile health-care system has collapsed. The three hospitals that serve the region are struggling to keep their doors open, with many staff members out sick. Indigenous people who live along the river, a headstream of the Amazon, are dying at high rates due to the lack of supplemental oxygen, disinfectant and basic medical supplies. COVID-19 has wiped out entire families, and their neighbors must then bury them.: - read the full Stanford Magazine article here .
As this is currently the situation in her village, my colleague let me know she is starting an orphanage/school to help the children through this moment of crisis, as well as to give them a chance at an education and employment long-term. The children that surround her in the photo are some she is hoping to help.
The need at this moment is very basic: to build structures to shelter the children and also provide them with food, clothing and medicines. The whole community is involved in this effort.
My first thought was to reach out to established non-profits to see if any were set up to help in this type of situation. And while there are some, it's very hard to find organizations positioned to help at this very early stage, before an emerging community response has established itself well enough to qualify as a full-fledged charity.
Which brings me here, and to you.
I am hoping to create a bridge between this community's current effort to care for their vulnerable children, and the time when they are able to qualify for some of these more traditional resources.
I hope you are able to contribute something to support them in this effort.
My friend Angela is a doer; she is tough and smart and above all committed to the welfare of the women and children in her community. Here are some images they sent of where things are now.
All funds will initially be directed toward food, shelter, medicine and clothing. Once this basic level of need is met, focus will turn toward addressing more long-term issues.
No matter what you're able to contribute, if you pass along a word of encouragement and support I will translate it and send it along with your financial donation.
I imagine knowing others from across the globe care about what's happening in their village will matter too, and perhaps start the kids on another kind of important education - about the reach of the heart.
I will plan to keep everyone posted on progress as it's as much a community effort here as it is there.
Thanks again for reading to the end, and helping as you can.
- Vanesssa Rodrigues
- Scott Miller
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