What was the defining moment that led you to this innovation?
When I met Machis (Mapuche shamans) or Lawentuchefe (Williche healers), my relationship with them drew me closer to my grandmother and her teachings. My mother also has ample health knowledge and experience from having worked at the Hospital of Concepción, with an integrated training of native knowledge and that of occidental medicine. Meanwhile, my father, a traveling salesman during the summers of his childhood, showed him the roadways of the southern parts of Chile. These trips inspired me a constant search to share everyday experiences with sincere, ordinary people in solidarity. My father’s death, when I was sixteen-years-old, challenged me to continue to live his life trying to understand other people’s experiences and their worlds.
I studied medicine at the University of Concepción. Once I became a surgeon, I went to Traiguén in the Araucanía region working as a general practitioner . There I knew the mapuche people, their ritual of health and I began to work togheter with their traditional healers. I became a self-taught man, going from place to place, traveling through many countries in Latin America and always seeking and synthesizing ancient knowledge of native populations.
In 2003, after years of working with Mapuche communities and directing health programs for indigenous groups, I became the medical VP of the Southern Araucanía Health Service and the Technical Director of the first Mapuche Hospital, created by the community of the Makewe territory. After the Makewe endeavor was well on its way, I moved to Chiloé’s Isla Grande, where I fell in love with the natural beauty of the people and the environment, and I was mystified by their fragility, resilience, and survival. I began to apply my life long knowledge, my experience with the rural world, and my own feelings and world vision and integrated it into all into my new methodology.
Tell us about the social innovator behind this idea.
My grandmother, Jovita Gallegos, was a woman who came fron the rural area to live in Concepción City.
She was always my healer. From her I learned too much about health secrets. She was very consulted by other persons in her neighborhood. While I studied for a medical doctor I lived in her house.
One day she died at home. I always remebered her knowledge and practices about health, illnes, life and death.
How did you first hear about Changemakers?
Newsletter from Changemakers
If through another, please provide the name of the organization or company