Projects Abroad | Healthcare

Ecuador: Traditional Indigenous Midwifery and Amazonian Plant Medicine

Tena, Ecuador

Description

Location: Tena, Ecuador

Duration: Minimum 1 month (flexible for min. 2 weeks depending on intern’s qualifications), Maximum 1 year

Start Dates: Project is ongoing, and you can join at any time, depending upon availability

Cost: $400 for the 1st week + $250 for each additional week (2 month minimum is recommended) – see ‘Costs’ tab for further details

Benefits:

  • Collaborate with an indigenous women’s association of midwives and traditional medicine healer
  • Live with one of the midwives and her family in a rural community home stay
  • Increase your herbalism, plant medicine, and other medical speciality skills.
  • Hands-on experience in the fields of Midwifery, Plant Medicine, Herbalism, Ethnobotany, and Public
  • Health, along with the opportunity to learn about agriculture, indigenous rights, women’s empowerment, grant writing, online marketing/media and more.
  • Option to collaborate part-time in a health clinic, hospital, or governmental public health assistance organization working alongside local doctors and support staff to compare traditional versus mainstream public health practices.
  • Opportunity to experience the unique interculturality of the Ecuadorian health sector
  • Numerous research & dissertation opportunities available with partner organizations and universities, if requested.
  • Participate in and help develop cultural exchange events including ecotourism, medicinal plant remedy workshop, farm to table Amazonian forest foods meals, and guayusa tea ceremonies.
  • Flexible placement, tailored according to your interests and abilities.
  • Keywords: traditional medicine internship, herbalism, ethnobotany, clinic, midwifery, hospital placement, flexible serious internship, public health, medicine, emergency medicine, traditional healing, indigenous rights, agroforestry, biodiversity, sustainable development, research, community development, economic development, climate change, women’s empowerment.
Costs Explained

Introduction

The Amazon rainforest is home to the most biodiverse ecosystem in the world, with over 40,000 plant species and 2.5 million insect species! Also incredible is that 25% of Western pharmaceuticals are derived from the rainforest, yet only 1% of the materials with potential have been tested – the Amazon is an idyllic place to be studying and learning about natural healing methodologies and herbalism due to the vast amount of plants and indigenous knowledge. Interns will live with an indigenous family in the Napo province, centered around the main city of Tena, about 4 hours East of Quito, Ecuador’s capital city. This province has a wide range of natural healers, herbalists, and shamans that are working hard to preserve their traditions. The main indigenous group in the region, the Kichwa nation, are known for their use of Plant Medicine and Traditional Healing methodologies. Yet even with such vast knowledge, there is disproportionate access to healthcare – whether traditional or pubic – and a lack of educational resources for prevention. The women’s association of midwives and healers are working hard to continue to preserve their culture and traditional ways through their birthing center where they receive patients.

In addition to collaborating with the women’s association, you will live with one of the midwives and her family, whom, as most Kichwa families do, regularly practice traditional medicine at home. Being a part of a Kichwa family and community, you can dive deep into language learning (Spanish and Kichwa!), and create your own community-based projects. This full immersion allows for interns to forge meaningful connections to the people and plants of the Amazon, gain global health perspectives, and practice their skills alongside experts. In addition, you will get to be a part of unique Amazonian activities such as swimming in waterfalls, making chocolate from fresh-picked cacao, and trekking in the virgin rainforest,

For those interested in a holistic view of the health system, there is an option to spend time supporting staff at a local hospital, rural health clinic, or public health organization, including assisting to promote health education and traditional medicine practices within a local community.

This is an opportunity for motivated, enthusiastic, and adventurous interns to immerse themselves in the field of Traditional Indigenous Midwifery and Amazonian Plant Medicine in the most biodiverse place in the world – the Amazon rainforest. It is a unique opportunity to see and be a part of the changes that are occurring as Western and traditional medicine come together. If desired, you could also participate in research and innovative projects to continue to analyze this union and cultural significance.

Daily Life

During your internship, you will first have a 3-day orientation to start learning about the culture, people, geography, and what it means to be an intern abroad. After this, no day will be the same, as you will move in with your indigenous host family and start immersion. Perhaps you will be getting up at 6am every morning to drink guayusa with your abuelita, host Grandmother, and talk about your dreams, while preparing green plantain for breakfast. The host family is a crucial part to your hands-on knowledge sharing. While immersing into their home and community, you’ll begin collaborating and learning in your internship as well.

As a Traditional Indigenous Midwifery and Amazonian Plant Medicine, you will collaborate with the Mamas of the women’s association in their everyday tasks and operations. While shadowing the midwives and healers, you can gain an understanding of the role of traditional healing practices, including primary plant species and their uses. This internship provides the opportunity to practice traditional herbalism while learning from the local knowledge of indigenous peoples. There is ample opportunity to do your own research alongside your internship. Some sample activities and goals include:

  • Assisting with birthing patient check-ups and evaluations
  • Shadowing and assisting the midwives with births and follow-up appointments
  • Identifying local primary medicinal plants and understanding their importance in traditional medicine
  • Learning how to make products from the native plants including salves, tinctures, soaps, and shampoo
  • Shadowing healers and shamans to gain a holistic understanding of local medicine traditions
  • Establishing working relationships with the midwives, healers, and assistants to support their engagement with the community
  • Engage in personal projects that support the association’s goal to preserve their culture
  • Contributing to field work in the chakra (traditional-planted agroforestry farm or garden) to plant and harvest native products
  • Working to create and clear trails in the association’s model medicinal plant garden
  • Guide visitors to learn about medicinal plant practices and support other community and eco tourism projects

Your main internships can be combined with us supporting you to network with communities, women’s groups, and shamans to create an independent project researching traditional plant medicine and practices.

Book with Confidence

Travel & Accom.

The best airport to fly into is Quito (UIO, Mariscal Sucre International Airport) as it is only 4 hours from the project. You will be put in contact with the director of the program upon applying and they can give easy to follow instructions to get to the project Headquarters from Quito or Guayaquil International airport.

You will stay for the first 3 nights in the town of Tena for orientation (accommodation is provided), and then will spend the rest of their time living with a local host family. This is an amazing opportunity to integrate fully with the local community, culture, and learn Spanish. Host families also provide 3 meals per day, bedding, mosquito net, and a place to do your laundry.

Fundraising Help

Requirements

We recommend that interns commit to 8 weeks on the ground in Ecuador, have an intermediate level of Spanish proficiency (or a strong motivation to learn quickly before and upon arriving!), and bring knowledge in their area of research if looking to do a personal project. Interns are expected to finance their own travel costs.

For those interns looking to do their own research or fieldwork for university – we offer the knowledge and time of our network, technical knowledge and informational databases, access to communities, NGOs, government agencies, and consultants, and pre- and post-research support.

Further requirements include:

  • Minimum 2 weeks commitment (40 hours/week), recommended 8-12 weeks.
  • Industry professionals, graduate/undergraduate students majoring in pre-medicine, global health, public health, community development, or a related field.
  • Full travel & medical insurance
  • Necessary vaccinations
  • Necessary flights & visas
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Costs

$400 USD for the 1st week, $250 USD* for each week thereafter.

* Currency conversions are approximate. Use xe.com for up to date currency conversion rates
** All payments incur a 5% bank transfer fee
*** Places are confirmed with a 1 week deposit.

What’s Included:
  • Accommodation and 3 meals a day with a local Host Family. This includes a private room, shared bathroom, all bedding, and place to do laundry.
  • A pre-departure orientation (general and specific information about Ecuador, logistics and a Skype meeting)
  • 3-day in-country introduction and orientation that addresses risk management, culture shock symptoms and remedies, cross-cultural adaptation skills, intro to history/culture/politics of the Ecuador and the Amazon, team-building amongst interns and staff, setting a vision and goals for your experience, and more;
  • 1:1 coaching/check-ins every 3 weeks to track goals, check in on health, support with challenges, and providing feedback;
  • 24/7 emergency support;
  • Thorough vetted network of doctors, therapists, Spanish tutors, organizations, etc. in the country;
  • Space for learning and reflection with other foreigners having a similar experience;
  • Re-entry training;
  • Alumni group and future references.

Additionally you will need about $15/day for food for the first three days of training. You will also need to pay for your own transportations and any other activities you want to do.

What’s not included:
  • Food during the first 4 days of orientation
  • Transportation from the airport to location is not included
  • Flights, insurance, visas (if applicable) and vaccinations.

Full assistance will be provided in getting all these arranged if you choose our Premium Support.

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We understand there’s a great deal to plan and organise for your trip. When booking a Placement, many of our participants choose to purchase our Premium Support Upgrade to benefit from the expertise, knowledge and experience of our Project Coordinators. We can provide the personal advice you need to ensure your trip is organised with excellence and planned with efficiency; ensuring the very best experience possible. Read more about how we can help you.

Note: Map coordinates are approximate


Past Participants Say

Alexis Power
Alexis Power
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"The experience definitely made me realize how much I love more traditional, organic forms of practicing medicine, and I don't think I fit into more stressful, systematic medical environments. As long as interns go into the internship with an open mind and feel ready to really immerse themselves in a culture that is very different from theirs, then...
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