Promotoras learn about medicinal herbs

Last Friday, our second group (Cycle 2) of promotoras (community health workers) learned about the medicinal uses of plants found in the Sacred Valley. Because of migration between communities and to cities, this kind of knowledge is not automatically passed down from one generation to the next. Most local people are aware that plants can be used medicinally, but aren’t sure just how. SVH/ Ayni Wasi helps to ensure the handing down of this valuable information by bringing medicinal plant experts to share knowledge and skills with our promotoras.

The promotoras were picked up at meeting points on the roads nearest their communities, and Darragh prepared breakfast for all at the Chillca health post (one of our partner clinics). Then Oscar, a medicinal plant expert, taught a class. Out behind the clinic, amongst the plant life, Oscar introduced the promotoras to several local plants that they can use to treat common ailments.

Oscar leads the teaching, assisted by SVH nurse Leticia
Oscar teaches at the Chillca posta, assisted by SVH nurse Leticia.

Together with Oscar, promotoras made a tincture and pomade of muña (Andean mint). The mint is macerated using a mortar and pestle, and is then strained and covered with gauze. The pomade is made with vegetable fat and can be rubbed on bruises. He also taught the promotoras how to make eucalyptus cough syrup.

Promoters gather around Oscar as the eucalyptus cough syrup  is being prepared.
Everyone gathers around as Oscar prepares the eucalyptus cough syrup 
Promotoras try out the eucalyptus cough syrup.
Promotoras try out the eucalyptus cough syrup.
To make a tincture, you put a plant in a bottle and then put in the cañaso, or sugar cane alcohol. Then you put a top on it, leave it in a dark place for a month, and then it's ready.
To make a tincture, you put a plant in a bottle and then put in the cañaso, or sugar cane alcohol. Then you put a top on it, leave it in a dark place for a month, and then it’s ready.

After Oscar taught, the community coordinators (Sarah, Lucy, and Brooke) met with promotoras individually to review the day’s material and ensure that all questions were answered.

February is the peak of the rainy season in the Sacred Valley, and and washed-out roads make it hard to gather the promotoras for training. (We learned this the hard way last year when torrential downpours made many roads impassable.) So our next promotora training session will be in March.

Stay tuned for Brooke’s post on the last in a series of workshops that the SVH community coordinators have provided to the young adults at Casa Mosqoy in Cusco!

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