- PhMuseum 2020 Women Photographers Grant
Shipibo-Konibo: an indigenous community resists with medicinal plants against the COVID-19 virus
Dates2020 - Ongoing
- Locations Ucayali, Lima
Addressing the use of traditional plant-based medicine is a gateway to the diverse flora that the Shipibo-Konibo indigenous people have long used and protected. But today, this consciousness linked to plants is in danger of disappearing.
The epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic has moved to the Peruvian Amazon, endangering the lives of the indigenous Shipibo-Konibo people. Faced with government negligence over the lack of medical care and the only Amazonian hospital collapsed, the Shipibo-Konibo, for the first time, decided to organize themselves. In May 2020, they created groups of traditional nurses in order to care for the different communities settled along the Ucayali River. They use their essences of flora along with western medicine to make evaporations. These are used for respiratory problems and are essential in the indigenous cosmology.
However, in July, more than 2,000 deaths were reported, including elders and indigenous leaders with the symptoms of COVID-19. This very complex situation has left this community in total desolation as without sufficient resources, they cannot recover and the number of deaths in the Amazon continues to grow.
"Plants don’t leave us and we don’t leave plants", states Gabriel Senencina. He recently lost his uncle along with seven other relatives due to Covid-19. He states that the disappearance of the Shipibo-Konibo elders is extremely serious because with them goes the library of knowledge linked to the use of plants and the biodiversity of the Peruvian Amazon. Like Gabriel, many Shipibo-Konibo consider this situation as a genocide by abandonment.