After a year (2018-2019) of working and learning together with our colleagues in the Paoyhan Shipibo Community on the “Living Pharmacy” project, we came to the mutual agreement to end our collaboration. However, we are proud that the community is continuing this project while establishing new goals.
Nonetheless, Alianza Arkana continues its mission to improve Shipibo communities health through the revitalization of Shipibo ancestral medicinal knowledge. After reassessing our past project, we realized the need to focus on nutrition as a crucial component of health. Therefore, in November of 2019, we piloted a smaller scale project called “Ametra Greenhouse”. This project focused on promoting urban agriculture combined with eco-agricultural knowledge for communities to produce their own foods. We started the first stages of this program by creating a practice of composting and building a small greenhouse. Unfortunately due to lack of resources to pay a full-time personnel to work on this project, we were forced to put this initiative on hold.
Our program in agroforestry and environmental education is currently developing a project called: “Bena Nii” in the native community of Santa Clara. Our team committed to this project full time in 2019 given the enthusiasm we received from the community. Thus, in committing fully to a bigger scale project such as “Bena Nii” and the lack of resources to hire more personnel caused us to make difficult decisions like ending the “Ametra Greenhouse” project. In making this difficult decision we committed to finding a feasible alternative to integrate the cultivation of medicinal plants in future projects.
After many conversations and reassessment of our past projects, this year we decided to introduce the micro-project “Rao Banabo” (Medicinal Garden). This new project focuses on the cultivation of medicinal plants starting with a smaller garden. Knowledge and, hence, cultivation of medicinal plants while once central to the Shipibo communities’ healing practices are now rapidly disappearing and replaced by the use of conventional medicine. With this new project we aim to revitalize this knowledge and, crucially, collaborate with Shipibo women who are experts in this practice. In our past agroforestry projects, we had mainly collaborated with Shipibo men, this time we seek to collaborate with Shipibo women as the main consultants and leaders for this project. At the same time we aim to combine ancestral knowledge with more recent advances in agroforestry. Therefore, this will be again a collaborative project that brings different experts to execute the project.
The Alianza Arkana team is very excited to be working with Shipibo women in this new project. They will provide their expert knowledge to design,evaluate and execute this initiative. Therefore, with the funds we had left over from our prior projects we expect to start the first stage of the Medicinal Garden in which we will work with our Shipibo women consultants to plan and design this new initiative.
So even though it was challenging to make the decision to end "Ametra Greenhouse", we took advantage from this experience to learn, reflect upon it and propose a new project that can both meet our goals and those of Shipibo communities as well as rethink the scale in which this project can be feasible. We hope that you also feel excited for this new initiative and continue to support us with its execution and success. We intend for this project to, in the future, be replicated in other institutions, schools and Shipibo families. As always, we prioritize education and transmission of indigenous knowledge in all of our projects.