The Matsiguenkas are a native group located in a remote area of Peru accessible only by small boats. Their detachment from modern society has enabled many of their cultural traditions to remain intact. Modernization is finally now beginning to encroach upon their way of life. Maria Luz Perez, the GRACE Cares Project Director in Lima, has many years of experience in Community Health, during which time she has worked on several projects with the Matsiguenkas. She remains intrigued by their culture and wants to support the community in maintaining their cultural traditions while enriching the education experience of the community. Maria has remained in contact with leaders in the Matsiguenka community who could implement future community-focused projects. Below are two projects completed by GRACE Cares.
Stories of the Matsiguenkas of the Under Urubamba
The goal of this project is to safeguard the cultural identity of the Matsiguenka through the recording and sharing of myths and stories that form part of their heritage. The Project was implemented by three well-qualified individuals each active in the community. The first member of the team, Eugenia Davila, a native of the region and nurse at the Kirigueti Center. The second team member Samuel Choronto, also a native of Kirigueti, was a professor and director of the School Monseigneur Javier Ariz. Samuel is also on the community’s executive committee. The third team member was Virginia Montoya, a Peruvian anthropologist who provided technical guidance in designing and implementing the program. As part of this project, the myths of the Matsiguenka were recorded and written in the native language and then translated into Spanish. To assure that this is a living-project, one that directly involves the community, local school children illustrated the book of myths.
Aside from the study and preservation, the project produced a story book. It was translated into Spanish and can be downloaded as a PDF here.
Medicinal Plants of the Matsiguenkas of Kirigueti
The goal of this project was to re-evaluate the knowledge and use of medicinal plants in Kirigueti and other Matsiguenka communities. This project was implemented by Professor Samuel Choronto. Professor Choronto wrote his dissertation on 300 of the medicinal plants of the Kiriqueti region. With the students of the Monseigneur Javier Ariz School, he studied if and how these plants are still used. Using a participative methodology, the community and students conducted a study of current medicinal plant usage. After the study was conducted results were shared in community assemblies and in school programs. A booklet on 30 of the most commonly used plants was put together and made available in the local language and in Spanish. The school serves as a community repository and resource on medicinal plants.