Celebrating Victory, Friendship and the Future
A Positive Future for the Children of the Rainforest
By Merry Bateman and Kosa Ely
Good news travels fast in the Rainforest. In a matter of days the remote village of Neuvo Eden, hundreds of miles up river, heard the news. The Shipibo community of Porvenir received the Title Deed to their 13,000 acres of native land. Sixty-eight years after its founding, this Rainforest community of 149 men, women, and children, now have the legal documents to defend their land rights, and win!
Porvenir chose to celebrate their victory a few months later to coincide with the 69th anniversary of their village’s founding. That would ensure their neighboring communities, and their guest of honor, Amazon John Easterling, could all be present.
The anniversary celebration brought a special euphoria, heightening the minute their guests stepped ashore. Elaborate preparations and festivities had been underway for several days. On this day, a special ceremony is planned to recognize the work of Amazon John and his company in helping the people of Porvenir secure the title deed to their land. It is a joyous and historic event that he would not consider missing.
The village leaders of the Porvenir community first met Amazon John five years ago when he approached them with a business proposal. He asked if they wanted to sustainably harvest Una de Gato from their land for use in Amazon Herb products. This would provide them with a renewable income source so they wouldn’t have to sell their ancient trees. The village leaders agreed to John’s proposal, and a business partnership, and soon a genuine friendship was born.
Three and a half years ago the chief asked Amazon John for his help in securing the village’s land. He was honored to spearhead the process. Both knew it was a critical step to take in order to protect their land and the Porvenir community from encroaching lumber companies.
With their agreement began the cumbersome task of navigating a sea of paperwork,
government approvals and legal requirements. John’s company arranged funds for
the village leaders to travel to and from Yarinacocha (a day’s boat ride) to
meet with lawyers. Engineers were brought in and out of the jungle to survey the
land and create detailed mapping of the area Porvenir hoped to secure. Documents
and maps were prepared and submitted to all necessary government agencies. A
steady stream of processing fees and taxes were paid.
The people of Porvenir, like so many indigenous communities, have not had the experience of being helped by “outsiders” without sacrificing something in return. The support and unconditional friendship they share with Amazon John has transcended cultures and bought a new pride to their community. And other communities now desire what they have.
The chiefs of Neuvo Eden, a neighboring Shipibo community, traveled three days
by boat to attend this celebration in Porvenir. At the celebration, they
approached Amazon John to request his help in securing their land. Their village
of 900 inhabitants rests in a much more isolated area than Porvenir, but even
they are not safe from exploiting enterprises. John agreed to begin the process
to secure their land of more than 80,000 acres.
And they had another, more urgent request. Many of their people are sick. Could John do something to help? Could he bring doctors and medicines?
AMAZON JOHN DETAILS
THE JOURNEY . . .
This was a service mission. From the symptoms described, we suspected the people were primarily sick from parasites. This is common in many of the Rainfor-est communities because of drinking the river water.
Two extraordinary doctors, Dr. David Garwood, a medical doctor from Jamaica, and Dr. Jim Haw-ver, a Naturopathic Doctor from Breman, Georgia, volunteered to give medical attention to these people. We brought a water filtration pump and large quantities of homeopathic and herbal remedies.
Our plan was to fly into Pucallpa, and pick up a floatplane so we could land near the village of Neuvo Eden. This village is situated off the Rio Pisque. It turned out the floatplane wasn’t available, so we flew to the town of Cantamano. In Cantamano we hired a boatman, expecting it would be another 12 hours by boat. After 12 hours had come and gone, we realized we were in for a much longer journey than any of us had anticipated. After 16 hours our boatman was not willing to go further, as night had come. It was too dangerous for him to travel in the dark because of all the logs in the river. Also the river current was getting swifter and swifter. The Rio Pisque backs right up to the Andes Mountains so the river current is extremely fast.
Our boatman stopped at the next community, and we figured we’d have to camp over night. Then at around eight o’clock Martin, manager of our operation in Peru, showed up. He and our full-time boatman, Hector, had left a few days earlier for Neuvo Eden, expecting us to come in by plane. Martin and Hector had heard over short-wave radio that our boat was being followed by two other boats. This is an area of the river that can be a little dicey, so they were concerned and came looking for us. We climbed on board with Hector and Martin, and took off. It was 10 hours before we reached our destination.
At six o’clock in the morning we arrived at the village of Neuvo Eden. We were served warm banana water, and met with the chiefs. We asked them to bring the sickest people first, and the doctors would see as many people as possible. Dr. Garwood had some rudimentary tools with him to check blood pressure and test for diabetes. Dr. Hawver had his computerized diagnostic equipment with him.
The doctors ended up seeing everyone who was ill, a total of 94 patients in this
village. Unlike Jamaica or the United States, Dr. Garwood found no diabetes and
no high blood pressure. He saw one hepatitis case, one patient with cataracts,
and essentially everything else was a problem due to parasites and poor hygiene.
“I live and work in Jamaica, and because of my knowledge of tropical diseases and my desire to visit the rainforest, Amazon John asked me to come. Visiting the Shipibo villages took me back in time at least fifty years, comparing to my homeland of Jamaica.
“The disease profile and the types of ailment seen in the villages are
predominantly infectious and parasitic. There were also a few cases of
malnutrition among the children. Any effort to improve the standard of living
and their hygienic practices will greatly impact the lives of the Shipibo
“I think the gesture of introducing the Katadyn water pumps for domestic water is a meaningful effort in the right direction. Adding to that an intensive educational campaign would be of tremendous help in improving the lives of these people.”
— Dr. David Garwood MD
The natives are accustomed to collecting the river water in pots or buckets, and leaving it for several hours, or even overnight, until the sediment is on the bottom. Then they scoop the water from the top, expecting it to be clean and pure. But it is not.
I brought with me a Katadyn water filter. It’s a water filter recommended by the World Health Organization, made in Switzerland. It looks like a bicycle pump, and is designed to pump the water through a very strong micro filter that removes 99.9% of virus, bacteria, and parasites. We donated that Katadyn water filter to the community.
The doctors estimated that 85% of their health problems would go away by using the water filtration pump, or by boiling the water before drinking and cooking. The diarrhea, fever, and itchy skin these people were experiencing was due to parasites.
Dr. Hawver donated one thousand bottles of homeopathic remedies for parasites to this community. Amazon Herb Company donated 1500 bottles of herbal formulas to strengthen their digestion and immune systems, and for eliminating parasites. The people were extremely grateful.
“In the world as we know it, the busy, hustle and bustle, there is another world that is totally opposite.”
“We saw things that many people may never experience. The villages we visited were very friendly and filled with lots of children. A stress free way of life to us!
“As a group they did have several health issues due to the hygiene condition of their villages. On the positive side we didn’t see any of the chronic degenerative diseases as we know in our world. An absence of diabetes, cancer, fibromyalgia, heart disease, etc. . .
“It was a wonderful experience to see how people in the Amazon live and what their needs are. It felt good to help in a small way, and I thank Amazon John for helping all of us become more aware of their needs.
— Jim Hawver, ND
The next morning we headed out, visiting two more villages to attend their sick, and gift them with herbal and homeopathic medicines.
All of these Rainforest villages would benefit from having the Katadyn water filters. We’re looking into setting up water purification systems for the larger villages. The villagers also desire solar receivers and solar lighting, so village by village, we’re providing that too. Amazon Herb Company works with the Rainforest Rescue Fund to provide these necessities directly to the villagers.”
“It was pitch black with the stars so bright it felt like you could reach up and pluck one from the sky. We were visiting Nuevo Eden and I had gone back to our hut alone while John, David and Jim continued to work with the villagers. As I sat there on the ground, taking in the beauty around me, I felt a presence nearby. It was an older Shipibo gentleman who I had met earlier when he hitched a boat ride with us to his village.
“We had a conversation in Spanish about the importance of the cosmos to the Shipibo people. The cosmos are represented in all of their art and traditional clothing. He spoke about the various constellations and how they relate to Shipibo culture. The view of the skies in the Southern Hemisphere is totally different than what we see here in the North, so it was truly a magical time for me. I didn’t understand everything he told me but that didn’t really matter. That evening I experienced a special bond to him and his people that I’ll never forget.
“John, David and Jim finally appeared after an incredibly long but satisfying day. The spell was broken for the moment and we were off to sleep for a few hours before a 4:00 a.m. departure to our next village. It wasn’t so bad getting back on the river that early. The stars were still out!”
— Gregg Woodward, Photographer
Amazon John’s vision
“This model can continue to work generations into the future. We are committed to duplicating this success (of securing land title) in other communities. As is any endeavor of this magnitude, it is not easy. There are many obstacles to overcome. The stakes are very high but the rewards are extraordinary.”
“Imagine hundreds of thousands of acres of living Rainforest that are officially deeded to its original inhabitants. Imagine thousands of indigenous peoples having the security of knowing their land is protected. Imagine how they feel knowing they have new choices they can make regarding their future, and the future of their children.
“Imagine the benefits to all mankind with a more secure source of oxygen, clean air, botanicals and phyto-nutrients that have the potential to reverse the frightening trend of disease and nourish us to appreciate the joy of a healthy life experience. Imagine a deeper appreciation for the most complex and yet fragile environment on Earth.
“These are all benefits that will unfold many years into the future. Equally as
important is that we are realizing these benefits now, in real time, today.”
Amazon John Easterling
The Shipibo-Conibo Indians number approximately 25,000 people living in 100 or so villages along the Ucayali River in the northeastern part of Peru, north and south of the jungle city of Pucallpa. Each village has a population ranging from 35 to 1,000.
To find out more about Amazon Herbs and the Rainforest Rescue Fund please visit
www.AmazonProsperity.com. To receive a free copy of the Amazon Explorer
Journal, and herb samples, please call (800) 362-3975, or you may also e-mail
Independent filmmaker, John Goheen travels the world filming documentaries through his company, Terranova Pictures. “I was drawn to John’s story because it covers an interesting combination of timely subjects, from Rainforest preservation and indigenous land rights to eco-entrepreneurship and Rainforest botanicals,” Goheen explained.
“I like John’s unique perspective on how he wants to provide a sustainable economy for tribal communities to save the Rainforest. John’s point of view is also good to hear on the natural medicines found deep in the Rainforest and how vital they are to 21st century populations.”
John Goheen’s 30-minute documentary, Peru: Amazon John and Natural Medicines airs on HDNet World Report. For more information, visit www.hd.net
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