Amazon Promise: Sustainable Health for Peru
Patty Webster is not a medical professional.
But one day, while working as a tour guide in the Peruvian Amazon rainforest, she found herself using a traveler's sewing kit to close a wound on a boy from a local village.
Word had long since gotten around among the people in this woefully underserved area that the young American was handy with a first-aid kit and willing to help them.
Dressed in a navy suit, red tie and shined shoes, 25-year-old Jonathan Paulson looks like any other recent college graduate trying to make his way in the world.
As a commodities broker with his dadís company, Paulson Commodities, the Lake Oswegan spends most of his work days on the Internet and calling clients on the phone. Heís tall, with straight teeth and is knowledgeable about the stock market.
How important is traditional plant knowledge in the Amazon? According to a recent study among the Tsimane' in Amazonian Bolivia, each standard deviation of maternal ethnobotanical knowledge increases the likelihood of good child health by more than fifty percent. And the study raises the question: What will be the cost ó to the Tsimane' and other indigenous peoples ó if such ethnobotanical knowledge is lost?
Natanael Karaja, a 26-year-old from Brazil's Karaja Indian tribe wearing a striking headdress and body paint, was drinking Coca-Cola and being interviewed by MTV.
"This forum was very important because it is a place where every citizen is respected," he said. "In Brazil, politicians, businessmen and farmers have not respected the rights of Indians guaranteed in the constitution of 1988."
But Mzonke Poni, a 30-year-old activist from South Africa, worried that governments and non-government groups were hijacking a forum that was supposed to be based on grass-roots dialogue.
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