Voice of the Shipibo

September 2016 Update

Welcome to our update on projects with the Shipibo in the Ucayali region of the Peruvian Amazon.IMG_2323


Mershona Parshall, Director Shipibo Joi


The Divine has a way of directing things greater than what I can conceive in my small minded human way.  I have been traveling to the Peruvian Amazon yearly and sometimes bi-yearly since 2007.  Each experience with the indigenous people and specifically the Shipibo has brought me to places within myself and within the natural world that have altered my perspectives and changed my world view.

In 2009, when I raised money for a Shipibo Congress in Pucallpa, I never imaged the invitation to participate would lead down the path of starting Shipibo Joi. Shipibo Joi’s  mission has always been to be fluidly responsive in making a contribution to the Shipibo.  Personally, it has been a gesture of reciprocity for what the Amazonian healers have contributed to my own well being.  Over those years, my contribution grew into writing grants, selling artesania in fair trade markets for the Shipibas, bringing medical supplies, reading glasses, building a new roof for Maroti Shobo, coordinating mid wife workshops with Alianza Arkana, and sponsoring retreats for adolescent Shibibo girls.

At times the burden of the needs of the Shipibo people has been overwhelming.  A thousand hands reaching out with need as the forest continues to be stripped through illegal logging, oil concessions and now palm oil companies who slash and burn the forest in order to produce palm oil for the needs of the insatiable West.  The people of the forest who have lived by her medicines and the sustainable use of her abundant resources are increasingly hungry with no skills to adapt to the demands of the dominant culture nor to survive in a monetary system.

In addition to extractive interests, from every direction of the globe, the medicines of the forest are being stripped by Westerns who reach into the pocket of the forest attempting to treat their own soul sickness from the imbalances of Western culture with the ancient knowledge of the grandmothers and grandfathers.  Ancient wisdom that their own children are turning away from for want of a cell phone, Western commodities, white bread and sugar.


The most recent trip to Pucallpa lead me to a crossroads.  Had I given enough of my own time and resources to manage a sense of reciprocity and responsibility, quelling my own sense of guilt as every year I watch massive trees being shepherded down the Ucayali River on huge barges controlled by Peruvian and international mafioso.  Perhaps my own life was shifting focus and direction within the world of my own work in North America.  I asked a respected friend to assist me in a quiet two weeks in Pucallpa where I would bring my usual supplies for the Shipibo determined to be a listening to my future relationship with the Shipibo, Shipibo Joi and the great Amazon forest.  Another motivation for this trip was to deliver a message stick from an Aboriginal elder to a Shipibo elder to fulfill a request to create relationship between these two indigenous cultures and continents.

In preparing for this trip, I found myself in conversation with various friends, and then found these words coming out of my heart – “Do you want to come?” Within a month there were 6 people who reported feeling a strong calling to join me and my solitary trip turned into a group. The gestalt of the group became something greater than I could have ever planned – a group of light workers being introduced to the beauty and contradiction of the Shipibo culture, the people I call the Keepers of the Plant Medicines.

The two weeks we shared together in Pucallpa turned into a profound calling to come out of the shadows of small projects and take on a larger mission for Shipibo Joi in partnership with the NGO Alianza Arkana.


The Genius Loci – Spirit of Place

The Genius Loci of the Amazon and her indigenous keepers need our massive assistance.  Without the Amazon forest the people who have been the caretakers of her medicines will no longer exist.  They will be dissolved in poverty into the dominate culture, no longer remembering their own relationship to nature. So, it is time for all Westerners who benefit from the medicines of the forest to recognize our collective responsibility to reciprocate with our financial resources to protect, preserve, and regenerate the forest for the people who have generously shared their wisdom and knowledge with so many around the world.  The calling is to awaken our collective conscience, recognizing that true healing happens through the circle of reciprocity.

Here are the projects that you can support:

  1. Funds to assist Alianza Arkana to work with indigenous organizations in Peru and Peruvian nonprofits regarding establishing land titles for Shipibo communities. Through legal titles the communities can protect their land from extraction interests.
  2. Expand the permaculture demonstration project already begun by Alianza Arkana.  This project involves not only planting food but creating medicinal gardens. This project can be replicated in other Shipibo communities.
  3. Support reforestation projects to bring the Genius Loci back to communities that have experienced deforestation of their lands.
  4. Support the ecosocial justice program of Alianza Arkana.
  5. Pay the salary of Professor Eli Sanchez, a Shipibo dedicated to preserving Shipibo cosmovision, language, myths, history, and knowledge for future generations.
  6. Support an intergenerational program of elders teaching Shipibo youth their ancestral wisdom and knowledge.

You may make a contribution through http://www.shipibojoi.wordpress.com or www.alianzaarkana.org

You are welcome to contact me and designate how you would like your donation to be distributed if there is a project you specifically want to support.


Previous 2013 Update

We made great progress in 2013 on our projects.  We have developed a core group of midwives, provided  medical supplies, reading glasses, sponsored Girls for the World,  and as you will read below, Shipibo Joi funded a new roof for Maroti Shobo.    As I look forward to 2014, Shipibo Joi remains committed to being a vibrant and responsive organization advised by the people it serves.

Please consider a tax deductible donation to Shipibo Joi.


Leaking roof before rebuilding

Leaking roof before rebuilding

For the past two years, Shipibo Joi has been raising money to build a new roof for Maroti Shobo, a collective of 24 Shipibo women who have a market place in Yarinacocha.    In October, we selected a contractor and hired a supervisor, Edwin Raul Zavallos Chota, to manage the project.  Funds for rebuilding the roof came from donations to Shipibo Joi with a contribution from the women of Maroti Shobo. Maroti Shobo’s contribution was donated artesania for Shipibo Joi to sell towards the new roof fund.  The money from these sales contributed about 1/4 of the total cost.

Shipibo Joi is very happy to report that the roof was completed in November 2013 just as the rainy season began.  We also replaced the roof behind the Maroti Shobo market.  This space comprises a large meeting area where Shipibo gatherings are often held.  Here are pictures of the roof in the rebuilding process.  You can see that it is a huge area.  Special thanks to Edwin who kept the project moving forward and Dr. Paul Roberts for his assistance.


Rebuilt roof1455146_10201744361385413_878203247_n

There remains additional improvements that are needed to the property that includes redoing the bathrooms and a new security door.  Donations for these projects would be greatly appreciated.


Nine Christiane

Nine Christiane

Nine Christiane is a German midwife who has been volunteering for Shipibo Joi during 2013.  Nine has been working as a midwife since 1982.  She first gained experience as a midwife in hospitals in Germany and then began working independently providing prenatal, birth, and post natal care.

Through out the year, Nine has been visiting numerous Shipibo communities to develop a relationship with the midwives and familiarize herself with Shipibo midwifery practices.  Nine has learned a great deal about plant use, prenatal massage and care, and delivery practices.  Nine is also identifying where birthing practices may be improved, including the basics such as hygiene.  Nine’s on the ground, hands on contribution to this initiative has been invaluable.

One of the goals of this project is to develop an integrative midwifery model to improve birth outcomes in jungle  communities  that occur far from health posts or the hospital in Pucallpa.  The integrative midwifery model will embrace traditional knowledge and incorporate holistic aspects of natural childbirth used in the west.



We conducted a Shipibo midwife meeting and training at Maroti Shobo in October 2013.  Ten midwives representing eight Shipibo communities attended. Medical supplies brought by Shipibo Joi included, scissors, clamps, gauze, thermometers, face masks, surgical gloves, an infant stethoscope, alcohol, bulb syringes, measuring tapes, cotton cords, baby clothes, receiving blankets, and aprons for the midwives to share with other midwives in their communities.

IMG_2396We intentionally kept the meeting small so that we could have a more intimate discussion about traditional birthing practices, what works, what needs improvement, and what are the challenges.  Nine led the meeting and provided training on how to use the supplies correctly.  Nine, and Shilpa Darivemula, a visitor/volunteer from the USA,  also traveled to Dinamarca, a Shipibo community along the Ucayali River.  Nine met with the midwives of that community to provide them training and additional medical supplies.

We continue to learn about Shipibo midwifery and hope to conceptualize an integrative model that will improve birth outcomes and reduce maternal mortality in the next year.


Two potential sites for Girls for the World programs were explored in October.  We decided on a community that will be accessible during the rainy season for the next five day retreat that will occur in February 2014.  We hope to have 15 girls and the participation of a few Shipibo women as mentors.  Shipibo Joi will continue its involvement in this program through financial support and assistance during retreat. We will also follow up with the girls from the first program that was conducted earlier in 2013 in the Shipibo community of San Francisco. IMG_0859


February 2013 Update





Traditional Shipibo Midwife Workshop

Girls for the World workshop

Support for Shipiba artesans and Maroti Shobo

Shipibo Council

Reading glasses

Would you like to help?


As I sit in my home, back in North America, I am contemplating our recent work trip to Peru from January 31 – February 18, 2013.  I will tell you about the wonderful work we were able to accomplish but our time with the Shipibo people is much more subtle and complex than simply reporting on the events.  The Peruvian Amazon and the Shipibo people are in transition.  Logging in the jungle continues; legal and illegal, most of it unsustainable.  LoggingBoatThe oil and gas companies send helicopters out daily and are negotiating with communities to begin drilling without honest consideration for the ecological impact on the jungle and her people.  The indigenous people find themselves in an untenable position of losing the ability to sustain their traditional way of life while developing a growing need to obtain money. The traditional diet of plantains, fish, yucca, and fruit is being replaced with white bread, white rice, pasta, and sugar. The Shipibo communities that are closest to the jungle city of Pucallpa are the most heavily impacted by the dominate culture, evangelist missionaries, water pollution, commercial overfishing, and resource extraction. Shipibo communities along the river are increasingly enticed by extractive companies who offer them a pittance for their resources and perhaps a few menial jobs.  Because of the lack of education and this growing need for money, communities may choose to sell their resources not realizing that they are being ripped off in the long and short run.  Provision for today seems to take precedence in the collective psyche over planning for tomorrow.   It is a matter of survival.  There are no easy answers.

The mirror of the Shipibo against the reflection of my own western thinking is always a profound lesson in perception.  They help me remember what it is like to be in the world of pattern, flow, and the natural rhythms of community.  Something that is sorely missing in North America where “the developed world” has caused us to forget who we really are in relationship to the natural world.  At times, when I have asked a question in a group of Shipibo,  there is a moment of silence and a perplexed look on the faces before me. I realize that my question comes straight out of my own cultural conditioning.  I love those moments because it is then that I get to reflect on my own conditioned perceptions and get out of the domesticated box of my own thinking.  We cannot impose Western thinking on a group of people who have lived in the rhythms and patterns of the rainforest for thousands of years.  The relationship of the Shipibo to the jungle is expressed in their textiles, pottery, painting, and in the Icaros that are sung by the healers.   They are the keepers of a deep and intimate knowledge of the plant world.   It is this gift of indigenous wisdom, held by the Shipibo, that we should collectively admire, treasure, and appreciate.  Yet, one cannot expect the Shipibo people to stand still in a changing world.  As you read about our projects below, please be sensitive to the fact that these are people who have an innate cultural wisdom but who are also struggling to find ways to move forward in a changing world.  It is the intention of Shipibo Joi to be a respectful bridge, to honor the Shipibo’s right to self determination and to learn from each other.



We held our Traditional Shipibo Midwives Workshop in Yarinacocha February 7-9, 2013.  Twenty Shipibo midwives and apprentices from four communities were able to attend the workshop. Nina Christiane Uhlich, a German midwife volunteering with Shipibo Joi for the next year,  began the workshop by inviting a dialogue among the midwives.  As the midwives began to share, we were so impressed with the wisdom of the women.  Their knowledge of plants to facilitate birth,  a prenatal diet for the mothers to make child birth easier, the use of massage beginning at 7 or 8 months to shift the baby into the right position, and ongoing care to prepare the mother for the best possible delivery without complications was impressive in ways that make “modern” medical births seem primitive. The workshop also included presentations on nutrition to address the changing diet of the Shipibo, hygiene, and complications.  We discussed creating a birthing kit tailored to their specific needs.  We began exploring a traditional Shipibo midwife certification to address a growing need for recognition as to the important role that Shipibo midwives play in their communities.  Shipibo Joi brought medical supplies for the midwives that included sterile gloves, face masks, gauze, alcohol, receiving blankets, and a few other miscellaneous items.  The workshop was organized and supported by both Shipibo Joi and our collaborator Alianza Arkana, another NGO working with the Shipibo.  Alianza Arkana provided invaluable on the ground coordination and I want to especially thank Paul Roberts, Nina Christiane Uhlich, and Mariana Orta for their hard work.  Dr. Roberts has written an excellent blog with further details on the workshop.  Please follow the link below:


Shipibo Joi also assisted in funding a midwife workshop in the Shipibo community of San Francisco in December of 2012 with the Alianza Arkana who coordinated the event.  It is wonderful to see this initiative grow out of discussions I had with two midwives from the same community 3 years ago.   Below is the link with further information on that workshop.




Girls for the World is a 5 day retreat program for adolescent girls (www.girlsfortheworld.org).  Karen Hanson, the director, has focused her work in India but graciously accepted Shipibo Joi’s invitation to bring the program  to Peru. Through the support of Shipibo Joi and Girls for the World we had our first girls retreat at the healing center of Elisa Vargas Fernandez from February 11- 15, 2013.  We had 13 girls attend, two Shipibo mom’s plus our wonderful translators Amanda Garratt and Mabel Toribio from the Alianza Arkana, Peruvian based NGO. The Alianza Arkana also provided on the ground coordination instrumental in making this a successful program.  It was amazing to watch the girls who are naturally reserved and shy become more confident, self expressive, and open as the days progressed. Karen skillfully imparted concepts of positive change  and leadership through the expressive arts using drawing, movement, drama, music, journaling and meditation.

IMG_0224Many thanks to Karen for answering the call to come to Peru. There are plans in the works for Karen to return to Peru to follow up with our first group of girls and to offer the program in other Shipibo communities. A strong facet of the program is to build a community network of support and mentorship between the Shipibo girls and mothers.  I was particularly touched by how the teens talked about caring for the environment and wanting their culture to be respected.  Providing resources to Shipibo youth is important in supporting future Shipibo leaders with a clear vision for their culture, and their lives. Amanda Garratt wrote a wonderful bog on the retreat.  Link below:



shipibo-konibo congress 146Shipibo Joi continues to support the sale of artesania created at Maroti Shobo, a collective of 24 Shipibo women in Yarinacocha.  Many families rely on the sale of the art work to support their families. We began a building improvement fund last year through the sale of textiles donated by the women.  So far we have raised $1,700.00 but we are in need of a great deal more funds.  The biggest problem is the metal roof that has so many holes that parts of the building flood when it rains.  There is also an open area behind the market section of Maroti Shobo, often used by Shipibo groups as a meeting area, that also floods.  We am planning a fund raiser called “Raise the Roof” this year to obtain the needed funds to assist Maroti Shobo.  Shipibo Joi also participated in a fair trade market last year to sell their work and to educate people on the Shipibo tribe.  The work was very well received.


I was able to meet with the Coshikox, the Shipibo council while in Peru this year.  They are still finding their identity in becoming a meaningful organization for the Shipibo people.  One idea that emerged was to begin researching the possibility of a fair trade business in plantains.  This will be a challenge for the Shipibo to bring them to market.  The reality is that middlemen who buy plantains from the Shipibo purchase them at very low prices and then make huge profits when they are resold in Lima.

READING GLASSESGivingGlassesinPaocoche

It has become a tradition for Shipibo Joi to bring reading glasses to give away to any Shipibo who would like a pair.  This year the supply ran out quickly and we plan to bring many more pairs on our next trip.


If you would like to donate to our programs please follow the link on the right side of the blog.  If you are interested in a hands on experience you may consider volunteering on one of our trips.  You may contact Shipibo Joi for details.   If you are interested in buying Shipibo art please contact Shipibo Joi.  The sale of the work helps to support Shipibo families and we are in great need of fundraising assistance for our “Raise the Roof” project for Maroti Shobo.



“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”

Mother Teresa

I think of this quote from Mother Teresa as the indigenous people in Peru watch 75% of the Peruvian Amazon being leased to multinational oil and gas companies to quench the fossil fuel thirst of industrialized nations.  Sometimes it is difficult to imagine that the small contributions we make truly make a difference.  For me, the antidote is the people I meet along the way while nurturing the work of Shipibo Joi.  I call these individuals our Eagles because they are the people whose vision is big, who see that by being in action together we can create many ripples in the pond to create a sea of change.  As you read below, you will notice that Shipibo Joi is collaborating with others to be the change we would like to see in our world.




Shipibo Joi is preparing for our next trip to Peru in February 2013.   Shipibo Joi has been collaborating with two NGO’s; Girls for the World, the vision of Karen Hanson, and the Alianza Arkana who is providing technical support.  We will run the pilot program of Girls for the World for a group of 15 Shipibo teen girls.  Girls for the World was created by director Karen Hanson who has been offering this 5 day retreat for teen girls in India.  She has graciously accepted our invitation to bring it to the Shipibo tribe.  Girls for the World is a program to empower teen girls through creative process.  We hope that the program becomes a meaningful forum to grow Shipibo women leaders and to build a mentorship program for continued support for Shipibo teen girls.  It is our intention to create the opportunity for Shipibo girls to develop the leadership, confidence and vision for their own futures as the world of the jungle and the Shipibo culture faces many challenges into the future.  A Peruvian lawyer told me last year that teen suicide is a huge problem in the Amazon basin as young people are experiencing a sense of hopelessness and despair over the lack of resources for their future and the deterioration of the land that provided all the resources they needed to survive in the past.  It is our hope that we can contribute a positive, supportive, growth network among the Shipibo teen girls as they move into their own future, to give them a voice.

For more information on Girls for the World:  www.girlsfortheworld.org



Our second initiative involves Shipibo midwives.  Each Shipibo community has midwives.  We have been coordinating with the Alianza Arkana to develop this program.  Shipibo Joi has been providing support for a Shipibo practical nurse to visit two communities to bring supplies to the midwives, provide some basic health training and to interview midwives with a questionnaire we developed.  We are particularly interested in an integrative model that supports the Shipibo traditional use of plants in Shipibo midwifery, and other traditional prenatal, natal, and post natal knowledge with additional training that will improve birth outcomes and maternal safety.  This coming year, we are very pleased that a midwife from Germany will also work with us in Peru during 2013.  We will be meeting with the midwives when we return to Peru in February to further organize this program.



Maroti Shobo is a collective of 24 women in Yarincocha who create beautiful artesania.  I have been selling their work here in the states and have been invited to participate in a Fair Trades event in October to sell their work.  The sales benefit the women who create these unique and beautiful designs that are unique to the Shipibo tribe.  Maroti Shobo is fortunate to have a building where they have set up booths to sell their work.  In the rear of the building is a large space where many Shipibo groups conduct meetings and gathering of all kinds.  Behind that, there is a rather run down building where Shipibo from other communities can come to stay when they are in Yarinacocha.  When I was in Peru during the intense flooding in 2011, many families found shelter here when their own communities in the jungle were underwater.


Maroti Shobo is in great need of a new roof for their building.  It leaks terribly ruining art and further deteriorating the building.  Each of the women donated a few pieces of their work to sell toward a building fund.  We need to raise about $15,000 dollars to replace the roof.

We are always grateful to those who support our work through donations.

Mershona Parshall

Director, Shipibo Joi

Shipbo Joi is a participant in FJC’s Fiscal Sponsorship Program. FJC is an IRS-recognized 501c3 organization; as such, all contributions made in support of Shipbo Joi are fully deductible to the extent allowed by law.




MARCH 2, 2012


We are the Shipibo Konibo people with a population of approximately 35,000 living in 132 communities along the Ucayali River and the tributaries of the Pisqui, Calleria, Aguaytia, Pachitea, Tamaya among others.  The forests, lakes, rivers, animals, and medicinal plants are our source of life.  They maintain our culture, language, and ancestral knowledge making us strong.

The presence of oil companies and mega-projects like the IIRSA project (Initiative for regional integration of South America) in our Amazonia is a threat to our rights and the unequal distribution of wealth.  The Congress of Brazil has declared that it is in the public interest to open a highway between Brazil and Peru and expects that Peru will do the same.  The execution of this highway project is projected to go from Brazil through Pucallpa and would affect the environment, the rivers, lagoons, and cause serious social and cultural damage.  The highway project plans go through natural protected areas where indigenous people such as the Isconahua live in voluntary isolation and will also affect Shipibo Konibo communities.  Recently, the consulting firm, Consorcio Vial Pucallpa, presented an environmental impact study, but this study did not have the participation of the Shipibo Konibo Nation, thus, it was conducted without regard to the ILO Convention 169.*

There has been no social responsibility for the environmental impacts (oil spills and pollution associated with oil drilling**) in the Corrientes River, Canaan de Cachiaco, and communities in Urubamba where there is severe environmental damage, threatening the future of the Amazon.  In these territories, where there are indigenous communities, land has been auctioned off to multinational corporations who only seek to make a profit off of the natural resources.  When their activities cease, they leave behind contaminated communities, infectious diseases, families who are dislocated, youth who have no future, and communities that are condemned to live in poverty.  At the same time these affected communities are excluded from sustainable development. The water that is used for human consumption is completely contaminated by debris shed by these businesses, and informal gold extraction activities use mercury which is then thrown into the water, polluting the Ucayali River.

In a visit made by the Consejo Shipibo Konibo Xetebo (the Shipibo tribal council) we found many communities lacked basic services; health care and education is still deficient.  With respect to social programs, services have not reached the indigenous populations.  The state receives royalties from the companies (multinational corporations) that fail to benefit communities; far from thinking of sustainable development or the future of Amazonia.

We are calling for solidarity in organizing the “AMAZON DIALOGUE” ,  a meeting with the aim of agreeing on a SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT PLAN that will protect the resources and life of the Amazon.  264 representatives of the Loreto, Ucayali, and Huanuco regions will meet on May 10 and 11, 2012 in the city of Pucallpa, Peru.

*”Convention concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries adopted by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in 1989 and ratified by Peru in 1994. Pursuant to ILO Convention 169, which came into effect in 1991, ratifying governments must implement special systems to protect the rights of their native peoples and introduce a mechanism to consult them on laws, production projects, and policies that may affect their development and their habitat.

Despite ratifying the convention more than 15 years ago, Peru had done nothing to apply its provisions and, in particular, article 6, which expressly establishes the right of indigenous peoples to be consulted on matters affecting their territories and way of life. It was only in 2011 that Congress finally passed the Indigenous and Native Peoples’ Right to Prior Consultation Act.”  (The indigenous organizations in Peru have not agreed with the regulations of this act).


Native Peruvians See Loopholes in Prior Consultation Law
By Milagros Salazar

**translator notes in parenthesis



February 2012 News

Our last trip to Peru was an amazing and yet startling eye opener of what is transpiring throughout the Amazon.  In 2008 the Peruvian government passed unprecedented decrees opening up the Amazon to multinational extractive corporations.  Despite protests from the indigenous people, most of the Peruvian Amazon has since been leased to oil and gas companies.  On this trip I saw the daily helicopters leaving the Pucallpa airport as the companies proceed with exploration and the beginnings of massive oil drilling.  This is in the midst of extensive deforestation from “legal” and illegal logging and mining for gold in the rivers.  The already stressed rainforest environment and the Native peoples who have lived there for thousands of years are the latest victims of the world’s insatiable need for fossil fuels.  With the degradation of the rainforest comes the slow death of the indigenous cultures and the slow death of their traditional knowledge of the rainforest plant medicines and the ecosystems that supported the life of the jungle animals and people. More and more I saw the natives peoples as environmental refugees, finding it increasingly difficult to live off the land in traditional ways and unable to participate in a market economy for which they have no skills, education, or comprehension of money.  They only know that they need more money to meet basic needs, and no means to make money.  To further complicate the picture, the IIRSA project (Integration of Regional Infrastructure in South America) plans to cut highways, create dams, and airports through pristine forest that threatens to destroy more jungle and indigenous communities.

For the past two years I have served as the International Coordinator for the Shipibo tribal council named the Consejo Shipibo Konibo Xetebo (Coshikox).  Together we wrote a grant funded by First Peoples Worldwide.  We created a diagnostic assessment that, in our phase 1 of this project, collected important data from 57 communities in the central Shipibo territory.  The assessment includes domains such as basic demographics of the community, land titles, health, education, culture, agriculture, natural resources, environmental issues, women and children, and what each community needs.  This information is extremely important and provides data on the true conditions, for at least, the communities in the central region.  Our phase 2 grant proposal will be for the diagnostic assessment to be executed in the upper Ucayali River region of the Shipibo territory where there are another 50 communities.  Already, this data is being used to develop sustainable economic development projects that will benefit the communities and give them a means to value and sustainable use their natural resources.

I was extremely inspired by the work of the Coshikox who are creating alliances with other indigenous organizations to bring political action and voice to the human rights violations concerning the indigenous people of the Amazon.  Shipibo Joi along with another NGO, the Alianza Arkana, supported three members of the Coshikox to travel to Lima on February 8, 2012 to participate in Peruvian government sponsored meetings concerning the recently passed Law of Prior Consultation.  While this law requires consultation with tribes prior to allowing extractive activities in indigenous territories is does NOT allow for a veto so, in essence, this leaves the indigenous tribes powerless if they should reject extractive and development activities.  Furthermore, there have already been oil spills by Maple Energy for years a number of Shipibo communities.  This link is a video showing that the Shipibo are already living with the nightmare of death, illness and pollution from multinational oil and gas activities:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJHedRcgI3E

To this end, the Coshikox is heading up a large emergency meeting in Yarinacocha to gather the leaders of the Shipibo communities as well as other indigenous groups such as the Ashininka who are being affected by the presence of multinational extractive corporations and Amazonian development plans.  The target date for this emergency meeting is April 2012.

During my month in Peru we also worked on a number of other projects and I want to thank my dear friend, Cal Peacock for coming with me to learn, observe and inspire others to care about what is happening in the Amazon.  Cal was a great companion on our travels to Shipibo communities, in my endless meetings, and handled the jungle environ like a pro.  I also want to thank Sashwa Borrous and Nate Costa for taking pictures and video that we will use to educate people on the Shipibo culture and conditions.  Sashwa and Nate also gave computer classes to the women of Maroti Shobo.  They were wonderful to have on the trip.  I want to thank Susannah Arnhart, who had been living with the Shipibo for the past year and one half.  Thank you for your tireless giving and connecting and translating, you are an amazing young woman.  Finally, I want to thank Luis Fernandez for joining us for a week and translating and being interested in what Shipibo Joi is doing.

The following is a report on our projects with the Shipibo.
1.  We gave away about 50 pairs of reading glasses to the Shipibo.  This has become a sort of tradition when traveling to Peru and now there are Shipibo who look forward to the glasses.

2.  Shipibo Joi met with a number of midwives from different communities.  We gave out midwifery supplies and had discussions on what they need. The most exciting development came from a meeting in the Shipibo community of San Francisc with a group of midwives and two Peruvian doctors working at the health clinic.  Here a certification process for Shipibo midwives has been initiated and we discussed developing a model of Integrative Medicine where the traditional midwives and doctors can begin to work together to integrate the traditional midwifery knowledge of the Shipibo with (we hope the best of) western medicine.  This is a first step in acknowledging (and preserving) the specialized and ancient knowledge passed down to midwives from generation to generation.  Through a process of certification, the role of the Shipibo midwives can be recognized and ultimately provided with resources in the future.  The regional Ministry of Health is in support of using San Francisco as an Integrative Medicine model.  The traditional medicos of San Francisco are also interested in participating in this model.

3.  We were able to set up a program for Shipibo teen girls called “Girls for the World.”  This program curricula was created by Karen Hansen whose organization is Girls for the World, a 5 day retreat she has been conducting in India for teen girls.  We will bring it to a group of Shipibo girls in January 2013.  We will also collaborate with the Alianza Arkana NGO who has developed a scholarship program for Shipibo youth.  We are very aware that the Shipibo youth need support in coping with their changing world and became aware that the suicide rate among indigenous Amazonian youth is extremely high.  Many youth see that the traditional world is changing and they do not see much hope for their own future.  Our hope is to bring resources and support to the youth, to support cultural pride and hope for their future.  The Girls for the World program encourages self expression, self esteem, confidence, leadership skills, a vision for the future, among other themes.  We are excited to pilot this program and plan to teach young Shipibo women how to lead this program to replicate in other Shipibo communities.

4.  We continued our work with Maroti Shobo, a group of 24 women artesans who have a market building that faces the Yarinacocha plaza.  We conducted a number of activities with the women.  We provided computer skills workshops (thanks Sashwa and Nate) for the women to learn more about emailing and how to use google translate.  We gave a marketing workshop with materials provided by the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market, a market they participated in last year, and we practiced mailing textiles internationally.  The goal of these activities is to develop the skills that they will need to conduct business internationally without a “middleman”.  Eventually, they will be able to receive and fill orders for their artesania.  Finally, the women requested assistance with their building.  The tin roof is falling apart and when it rains, portions of the building leak and cause flooding.  Shipibo Joi is going to assist in raising funds for building improvement.  The Maroti Shobo building not only functions as a market for artesania, the back portion is used as a community room where Shipibo often hold meetings.  There are additional rooms and a cooking area in the back that house Shipibo who come into the town of Yarina from the more remote communities and when there was extreme flooding in 2011, Maroti Shobo also housed many families who were forced out of their communities due to this disaster.

5.  We had many meetings with the Consejo Shipibo Konibo Xetebo, the tribal council of the Shipibo Nation to discuss sustainable economic development projects for the Shipibo.  Their ideas are fantastic from fish farms and permaculture to collaborating with Andean indigenous organizations to create an exchange of agricultural products between the Amazon and the Andean regions.  I will be writing another grant for the phase 2 of our diagnostic assessment work for the upper Ucayali Shipibo communities.

I have tried to keep my long post from being too too long.  In all this we also went to see a potential fish farm, a sewing workshop headed up by my friend Candy, a German woman who is married to a Shipibo man, we visited a number of traditional healers, and traveled on boat to Paoyan, a community down the Ucayali River where we hear there will soon be oil drilling.  Shipibo Joi is grateful to begin collaborations with some other NGO’s but Shipibo Joi cannot expand and meet our program goals for 2012 without your help.  Please consider donating to our programs so that we can be part of the solution to conserving rainforest and supporting the Shipibo Nation through this time of transition.  We are in the trenches through our projects.  This is a direct link to make a tax deductible donate on line:   https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=WCSTQAU7VCR5S
Donations are deposited into our Shipibo Joi account at FJC.

Shipibo Joi is also in great need of a FUNDRAISER AND A WEB DESIGNER.  To date, all efforts have been on a volunteer basis but we would like to explore organizational seed money to support our work with the Shipibo.
Mershona Parshall
Director, Shipibo Joi
440 786-9838

Shipbo Joi is a participant in FJC’s Fiscal Sponsorship Program. FJC is an IRS-recognized 501c3 organization; as such, all contributions made in support of Shipbo Joi are fully deductible to the extent allowed by law.


The mission of Shipibo Joi is to support the Shipibo people

to actualize their vision to conserve Shipibo ancestral land;

and to preserve their culture, language and traditional knowledge

for future generations through collaborative Shipibo directed projects.

Shipibo Joi works with Shipibo led organizations on initiatives that promote environmental stewardship, sustainability, indigenous rights, the biodiversity of the rainforest, and the preservation of Shipibo traditional knowledge, culture and language.

Shipibo Joi recognizes the unique and meaningful contribution that indigenous cultures offer the modern world regarding our interdependence on, and interconnectedness with the natural world.  As one of the largest tribes in the Peruvian Amazon, the Shipibo Nation has maintained their rich traditions and specialized knowledge of the rainforest.  Shipibo Joi also aims to educate the public on the value of preserving indigenous knowledge, the natural resources of the rainforest, and the rights of indigenous, first nations people, such as the Shipibo, to maintain their ancestral land.

Shipibo Joi is under the fiscal sponsorship of FJC, a non-profit, 501c3 philanthropic foundation.

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