‘The Healthcare centre is a medical and cultural asset for the Ashaninkas’

Returning with experience

Marie, a young 25 year old professional in the tourism sector, left last summer to work on the Ashaninka Health care centre, just one of many projects being supported by Solidaile. Here she gives an account of what she did, how the project evolved and what impact the experience has had on her.

‘I left for 3 months to work as a volunteer in the Perene region of Peru. My task was to help in the development of a healthcare centre dedicated entirely to the Ashaninka people (indigenous to Peru). With the building of the centre almost completed, I left with 2 Ashaninkas (Andres and Miguel) to visit different communities to talk about the ‘aldea de salud’ (healthcare centre). We had 2 aims: to convince the population of the benefits and interest of the centre to them and find a maximum number of traditional practitioners who could come and practise there. In the end we found more than 20 practitioners ready to get involved; proof of the relevance and significance of the centre to the local community.

Today the Centre is up and running and already welcoming a good number of Ashaninkas but we are still not attracting enough people. There is a need to continue talking about the Centre to local communities some of which are located in pretty remote areas. But little is needed for them to understand that the Centre is an asset, a true opportunity for them. Not only does it allow them easier and cheaper access to healthcare but allows for the continuation and preservation of their knowledge and study of plants which is considerable and which has been passed down the generations.

On a personal level, spending the last 3 months in the Ashaninka community has been a very enriching experience: living and thinking in a totally different way, discovering new customs and traditions and meeting new people. Even if there were times when it was not a bed of roses the trip expanded my mind and opened up new horizons.

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