Monday, 3 December 2007

Ceu do Mapiá: Medicina da floresta, Casa de Cura, and Benki Ashaninka

When we visited the Daime community (almost the Vatican of the Daime) in Ceu de Mapia in 2004 we were taken to Medicina Da Floresta, a botanical garden and plant laboratory where Maria Alice Campos Freire grew and prepared all of the medicinal plants used by the community. It was beautiful place, with a mandala-shaped multi-level garden, and a small lab for extractions

When she saw the camera she said "I don't like those machines"
They'd just had a bad experience with Brazilian journalist (from Penthouse, I believe) who essentially staged pictures to make them look bad.

We turned off the camera and she sat down to talk to us. She was a very interesting person, with a very no-nonsense practical outlook, among other things she'd developed a natural method to fasten the reforestation of the jungle (a painfully slow process otherwise) She'd been disappointed many times trying to start big projects "I am now a barefoot worker" she said.

Just today I found some videos of her in YouTube, they even have a YouTube group

I am glad to see she's still keeping strong.

She says: I don't have much to say. For me it's few words, a good amount of feeling, and a LOT of action ... all of the old traditions teach the same: to preserve.. the creation, through ACTION, not talk so much, but to do..

The kid in the next video says "We are here to learn. To learn to care for the forest, to learn to make remedies to treat illnesses. To learn to help" He is twelve. It always struck me about children in Mapiá, children who have grown up into an Ayahuasca since birth how secure and mature for their age they seem.

The other half of Ceu de Mapia's health care system is the Casa de Cura, the hospital, ran by Clara Shinobu Iura, were most of the medicines get applied. Here's a very nice mini doc, in English about it.

Our guide back then lamented Maria Alice´s daughter wasn't there when we visited. He said she was very beautiful and had a friend who was an indigenous shaman. This could be them (but I could be wrong)

He is Benki Ashaninka, a very interesting man, who received a human rights awards in 2004 for his continuing labor to protect the rights and land of his people. He keeps a blog discussing, among other things recent invasions by Peruvian loggers who illegally cross the border into Brazil to extract wood. There are some very interesting aerial pictures of illegal logging in action. These illegal loggers are probably coming into contact with recently discovered uncontacted indigenous groups. The blog also talks about the kinds of problems that arise when one indigenous community signs an agreement with a logging company while their neighbors don't, and other very real issues that Amazonian indigenous communities face daily.