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Story Publication logo March 5, 2021

In Dialogue With Plants (Portuguese)


A young boy lies down on the dirt ground with arms outstretched. He is wearing a white surgical mask, black shorts, and no shirt.
Black and white double exposure photo of a woman standing in front of a body of water with a leaf superimposed on the image.
Image by Florence Goupil.

During the pandemic, Indigenous groups in the Amazon isolated themselves in their communities and attempted to find refuge through the plants of the vast forest. This is what the Shipibo-Konibo aimed to do, using their knowledge of both the forest and the medicinal uses of various plants. The global crisis caused by the pandemic has endangered this traditional knowledge of biodiversity, threatening the longest-existing communities.

Shipibo-Konibo communities are located primarily along the sides of the Ucayali River, which is one of the most important tributaries in the Peruvian Amazon and originates in the Andes Mountains. Of the 51 Indigenous groups that live in the Peruvian Amazon, the Shipibo-Konibo represent one of the largest, with around 32,964 members organized into 140 communities along the Ucayali.

The English excerpt above was translated from Portuguese. To read the original story and photo gallery in full, visit the Agência Pública website. You may also view the original story on the Rainforest Journalism Fund website here. Our website is also available in EnglishSpanishbahasa IndonesiaFrench, and Portuguese.

Gabriel Senencina crossing the lake of the Callería community in a rowboat.
Gabriel Senencina, member of the Comando Matico, crossing the lake in the Callería community. Image by Florence Goupil. Peru.
A woman looking down and holding a photograph in her hand.
Matico is a tropical shrub, native to southern Mexico, the Caribbean, and abundant in the Amazon, where many of the native tribes use its leaves as an antiseptic, to stop bleeding, and to treat ulcers. Image by Florence Goupil. Peru.
A man lies down with his eyes closed while a member of the Comando Matico places his head in his hands.
Saí Senencino receiving the Matico Command treatment. Image by Florence Goupil. Peru.
Image on the left is of a page from the Bible. Image on the right is of a church.
Adventist Church in the São Francisco community in Peru. Image by Florence Goupil. Peru.
A preacher is standing holding a Bible, with his eyes closed and a medical mask on.
Preaching in the port city of Pucallpa. Image by Florence Goupil. Peru.
People lying on a bed seen through a mosquito net.
An elder in the community with strong symptoms of COVID-19. Image by Florence Goupil. Peru.
Two women; one wears a medical mask.
Rosa Silvano Barbarán and her daughter Luzmery Buenapico Silvano observe the Callería community. Image by Florence Goupil. Peru.
Image on the left is of a leaf, and on the right is a hand resting on someone's chest, seen through a mosquito net.
Image by Florence Goupil. Peru.
A man is standing behind a seated woman and his hands hold her chin up.
Jorge Soria, one of the founders of Comando Matico, attends to his sister Jessica Soria, who has just suffered a respiratory crisis as a result of COVID-19. Image by Florence Goupil. Peru.
A man wearing a cape and standing in the middle of vapors in the forest.
Roger Mondaluisa showed symptoms of COVID-19 and respiratory problems and is treated with vapors by the Comando Matico. Image by Florence Goupil. Peru.
A man swimming with his head above the water.
The Shipibo-Konibo ethnic group is organized into 140 communities along the Ucayali River. Image by Florence Goupil. Peru.

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