PEOPLE AND PLANTS INTERNATIONAL - SACHA WARMI CENTER:
WOMEN, FAMILY AND TERRITORY PROGRAM, ECUADORIAN AMAZON
SACHA WARMI CENTER – PASTAZA - ECUADOR
Update - September 2016
Sacha Warmi Center was created as an intermediary space to help build bridges between cultures and to support a much-needed intercultural dialogue between the official biomedical health system and indigenous people and their traditional health-care delivery system. We believe such an intercultural dialogue is needed for the health of indigenous people to improve. To reach this goal deeper and more critical reflections need to happen on both sides, ones that draw and learn from past initiatives, mistakes and failures. Our programs and actions aim at facilitating such processes, in order to help both sides to reach common grounds, join forces and develop more appropriate cooperative strategies. Promoting intercultural health initiatives in the Amazon constitutes another integral strategy that may also contribute to reduce further deterioration of tropical ecosystems and climate change.
SACHA WARMI CENTER is not only a physical space where indigenous and non-indigenous people can learn and find resources to support their own needs, where many species of medicinal, food and other useful plants grow, and many other educational activities take place to support the implementation of intercultural health and healthcare; The center also supports other initiatives in different parts of the Amazon Region, such as those described below.
Woman, Family and Territory Program
Project: “Reactivating the transmission of traditional knowledge”
This program is now facilitating a series of gatherings between elder and younger kichwa women from three different regions in Ecuadorian Amazon (Canelos, Arajuno and Tena). The three groups of fifteen women will meet separately, at different dates, every two months, for a period of one year. They will discuss various issues relating to cultural identity, such as traditional health and health care, production and food sovereignty, economy, arts and oral traditions. The objective of the project is to support the elder women to transmit their knowledge and experience and to encourage the younger women to learn and practice these important cultural values, and continue to do so with the coming generations. We are also expecting that some of the younger women will want to pursue further learning and join the training program for intercultural health facilitators at Sacha Warmi Center.
This project is being funded by the Centro Ecuménico de Proyectos-Fondo Ágil (Ecuador) and the Sacred Fire Foundation (USA).
The Women, Family and Territory program was designed by and in collaboration with indigenous women of different ages, ranging from 16 to 92 years old, with the goal of facilitating the preservation, revival and transmission of art and oral traditions, as well as traditional medicinal and food systems, through transmission between generations.
The program plans to offer nineteen workshops, involving fifteen apamamas (elder women), thirty young women and three indigenous female leaders (two apprentices and one confirmed leader) from three Kichwa communities: Canelos, Arajuno and San Jacinto.
The workshops will cover the following topics:
- Traditional art forms such as pottery & basket weaving and other arts and crafts.
- Traditional medicinal systems such as medicinal plants and healing techniques.
- Traditional food systems such as food gardens (chacra) and wild harvesting.
- Oral traditions, such as stories of the ancestors, the origins of medicinal and food plants, as well as others relating to the teachings of the elders and learning of the young.
This project will facilitate a series of gatherings between elder and younger Kichwa women from the Ecuadorian Amazon to reflect on their current circumstances around health care, food production and nutrition, traditional arts and oral traditions. It aims at creating interactive spaces for a continuous exchange amongst the women to reassess the importance of their traditional knowledge in the context of modernity.
"In spite of all the good things that have been done over the past 45 years to support the indigenous people in the Amazon in reclaiming their rights to preserve their culture and their lands, political and economical pressures continue to put at stake their very existence, forcing them into an uncertain future. Today it feels to us more than ever necessary to continue stand by and help them find ways to overcome these challenges, so they may find new possibilities of life and regain a sense of pride and dignity."
— Didier Lacaze, Director of Sacha Warmi Center
Project: “Creating more appropriate spaces for traditional healthcare services”.
As in most traditional societies, disease, prevention and healthcare are in the hands of women. Health and healthcare certainly is a collective process, which involves healers, shamans or other specialists, but women are most often the keepers of traditional knowledge.
One of the proposals made by the elder women at the first encounter in Canelos, is to create more appropriate spaces for them to offer their services to the community in better conditions. The whole group agreed that this should continue to be done close to the household of the two women who have been long-time providers of healthcare for their community and others. Sacha Warmi Center will support their request, with the collection of the materials needed for the construction of two traditional health-houses in the community of Canelos, as well as their implementation and a continuous support to improve on what we and they feel is needed to better serve their community.
This project will serve as an important step toward an improved intercultural dialogue and a closer cooperation between the indigenous and the Western healthcare system.
This project does not yet count with specific funding. For now it is the decision of the women’s group in Canelos to do what they can with the help of the community organization, until Sacha Warmi Center can provide some additional support.
Self-practices Program – Ceibo Alliance
Project: “Revitalization of Traditional Medicine among the Siekopai people”.
Sacha Warmi Center received a request from the indigenous organization Ceibo Alliance to support the implementation of medicinal plant garden in the Siekopai community of Sewaya, on the Aguarico River, in the province of Sucumbíos. The actual initiative of the project comes from a couple living in Sewaya, Fanny Piaguaje, who is an herbalist, and her husband, Colón Piguaje, who works for the Health Department in the village of San Pablo. The construction of the garden is under the responsibility of a group of 9 people from Sewaya. Two young Siekopai men from the village are documenting the process on video. Fanny’s idea is that the garden will serve as a nursery; The plants will be redistributed to all villagers and other Siekopai communities. It will be an educational and promotional space for all, including other indigenous nations integrating the Ceibo Alliance, such as the Aí (Cofán), the Sionabai and the Waorani, to support the revaluation of their own medicine and prevent its loss over time. Related activities will also be carried out with the school children from Sewaya and the other Siekopai communities.
Because of Colón’s particular position as member of the health center in San Pablo, the project also aims at developing a series of activities for the transmission of information and cultural sensitization to the health professionals working in two health centers located within the territory of the Siekopai people. There again, Sacha Warmi Center is supporting the empowerment of the local people, as well as the creation of more capacity among the non-indigenous health workers to reach a better communication, understanding, appreciation and cooperation, which may translate into the implementation of more effective intercultural healthcare system.
This project is being funded by the indigenous organization Alianza Ceibo and the American NGO “Give Clear Water”, based in Lago Agrío (Sucumbíos)