The green paste had an unusually lumpy texture and an incredibly pungent odor. Its ingredients included various local plants and herbs as well as a ground-up frog. Yet despite the seemingly repugnant nature of the concoction, the promotoras (community health workers) were mesmerized. The paste was used to treat twisted ankles, deep bruises, and other types of external injuries. After the trainers explained the ingredients and its properties, three of the promotoras volunteered to receive a cast made with the paste in an effort not only to cure some of their own aches, but also to better understand the proper technique for applying the substance and wrapping an injured limb. Using this kind of local remedy in conjunction with Western medicine practices is an example of Sacred Valley Health’s commitment to including local, traditional remedies into the promotora training curriculum.
Their colleagues watched with curiosity as they had during the earlier sections of the day’s training. By then the promotoras had already reviewed the previous training’s lessons on basic first aid as well as life-saving techniques such as the Heimlich maneuver and CPR. The promotoras practiced these techniques on Sacred Valley Health/Ayni Wasi volunteers that pretended to be patients as well as on each other. By practicing with each other, the promotoras built camaraderie and also guided each other as they learned skills.
Specific activities included learning the Heimlich maneuver, practicing CPR on our dummy, putting volunteers into the security position, and wrapping twisted ankles. As with all SVH/Ayni Wasi trainings, the objective was to not only teach the promotoras the health curriculum, but also to empower them to serve as resources for their communities. Practicing these healing techniques builds confidence and prepares each promotora for the day that he or she will slather a friend’s twisted ankle in frog paste in order to help it heal better.
– Written by Daniel Alvarez