Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Health and Traditional Healers

Photo credit: Royden Lepp
Toward the end of last week, our chief health worker told me that plans were being set in place to meet with the local area curandeiros (traditional healers, witchdoctors...choose your term) to discuss community health concerns that we and they face. This may seem like an odd plan since we often have to deal with the fall out of people who have spent too many days at the curandeiros awaiting their cure and who by the time we see them are too far gone to help anymore. But this is precisely why it is so important for us to establish dialogue and discussion with them. In terms of our beliefs, training, and practices, we're worlds apart. I don't condone their methods of treatment, but consulting a curandeiro is an integral part of life and the culture here. It's what you do when things go wrong, just as naturally as it is for us to pray or consult our family doctor.

I have met and dealt with several curandeiros over the years (probably even more than I know). I have treated and prayed for them too, both of which they are very open to. Although their beliefs and rituals are of concern, ultimately they also want to see improvement in those they "treat". That's our aim too, and on this common ground we hope to establish a relationship and atmosphere where we can talk and teach about health issues they come across that are of concern to both them and us. There have been many cases where the person in their care was very ill, and getting worse, and we have been able to reach agreement to take the sick person to hospital. As a result, lives have been saved. So we do have credibility with them, and on that success, we are moving into a closer circle where we can impact them and their practices for a healthier community and even more lives saved.

I must just say that I have never attempted this before, but I (we) are compelled by the desperate health needs we see. We desire to reach out not only for the sake of the community at large, but to the curandeiros individually as well. We've thought about this opportunity and talked about it for quite awhile, and now the door is open and our next steps will be taken both carefully and prayerfully.

1 comment:

Aleja Verna Salando said...
This comment has been removed by the author.