Born into families of healers, surrounded by seeds and plants, and grateful to Pachamama, they have put their gifts at the service of their communities.
They, the healers, the wise men, the midwives, the connoisseurs of energy, those who carry the knowledge of the grandmothers and transmit it to their daughters. They are the women of the Andean world, who despite the social changes that leaving the countryside and seeking sources of income have implied for many, are reluctant to give up their principles that seek the collective good.
They are frequently visited or called by their neighbors and relatives to attend deliveries, perform cleanings or prepare drinks and food to heal the body and soul. Some of them provide their services in the markets and squares of their localities. Others are part of the Ministry of Health in the area of ancestral medicine. (XTM) (I)
Blanca Balarezo, healer and of the Zhidmad parish
For eight years she has been working in conjunction with the Gualaceo-Chordeleg Health District to intervene in cases that doctors recommend attending, be it anemia, depression or improving the patient's nutrition.
He received the learning from his grandmothers, who were very attached to natural medicine and at the same time learned from the great-grandmothers who were midwives in the area.
"Before there was no access to go to a health facility, and what they (my grandmothers) did was help each other heal with the little plants in the orchards," he adds.
Julia Tepán is a herbalist, midwife and from Narancay Alto
She attends a healing center in her home and also works at the Carlos Elizalde Health Center, in the area of intercultural medicine.
She has the gift of healing and attributes it to the fact that from a young age she saw her grandparents and her mother healing, attending births and lending their hands to ensure that the members of her community were healthy.
From childhood he felt admiration and curiosity for what the grown-ups did. She always paid attention to what kind of crushed plants her grandfather gave her to cure her. Currently the medicine he applies to his patients comes from his garden.
Silvia Sánchez, ‘Chiva’,renowned Cuenca healer
She has been dedicated for 12 years to the practice of Andean ancestral medicine for the treatment of respiratory disorders, muscle pain and the production of natural products. He remembers that his first teacher was his mother, whom he saw how he collected wild flowers to decorate the house, smoke the clothes of the babies, bathe the children or newborn grandchildren with rose petals, chamomile leaves or rue.
"Thus the taste for medicinal plants grew in me," he explained. At present in his house he has a room dedicated to the preparation of his products such as soaps, shampoo, creams for face and body; repellents, deodorants, ointments for muscle aches and fungi and massage bars for menstrual problems and stretch marks.
Josefina Lema is a healer and a native of Otavalo
For 25 years he has used guinea pig as an X-ray to determine people's discomfort. His knowledge was inherited from his ancestors in the form of energy. “Until I was eight I learned from my grandmothers, but then I left it until I was 20 when they died and I understood that I could not let this practice disappear. In the form of energy the knowledge came to me and I wondered who could help my community, and since then I decided to take it up again ”, he said. His knowledge consists of observing the guinea pig on the outside and inside, for this he will cut the abdomen of the animal. He ensures that the guinea pig's neck shows stress if it is swollen, and envy if it has lumps.
María, Rosalina, Clara and Rosa Sisalima, from Carmen de Jadán
The Sisalimas cousins learned this trade from their grandmother who was also a healer and midwife in the sector. According to María Rosa, when they were children they accompanied their grandmother during childbirth and were even in charge of collecting the plants from the garden or the hill.
Every Monday and Thursday they collect the herbs and form the bundles that they use in the cleanings that they carry out in their stalls located in the markets of Cuenca.
"You (going to the plant) and I are going to work for the good of a person," I always tell them, "says Rosalina, who considers dialogue with the plants essential to prevent them from getting sad or sick.
Delfa Iñamagua, healer and connoisseur of Andean culture
She is an Ancestral Medicine technician from District 1 Pumapungo of the Ministry of Health, for more than a decade. Her gift is the treatment with medicinal herbs and the use of stones. Remember that each of his knowledge was transmitted to him by his grandparents.
Iñamagua explains that in the Andean culture men and women have a soul, a life force, like all plants, animals and mountains.
It emphasizes that “ancestral medicine is understood as that which comes in two ways by inheritance transmitted from generation to generation, that is, from grandmother to granddaughter; or by necessity, when the person at a certain moment develops the gifts he always had ”.