Anacleto Sihuin Mamani is the only male health worker at Sacred Valley Health. He lives in the traditional Andean community of Kelccanka and recently shared some of his thoughts and experiences around life during the COVID-19 pandemic. He expressed concern over many things, but his primary worry is that access to food has become more complicated in recent months. “A lot has changed,” Anacleto tells us. “When this sickness was not here, we had a market every Saturday to buy fruits and vegetables for our children. Now, because of this virus, there’s no market, the tiendas are closed, and we can’t buy food.”
Kelccanka is one of the 38 indigenous communities in the Ollantaytambo District. As in many of these communities, there is limited access to basic services like transportation, electricity, health care, and a variety of foods. Before the pandemic, a market truck made the 3-hour trip up from Ollantaytambo once a week to sell food and staple items to supplement the potatoes and a handful of other vegetables that grow in Kelccanka. The Saturday market was also a place for people from Kelccanka to sell their potatoes and wool to be taken down to Ollantaytambo. And it was a social gathering space for all.
Now, because no one is earning money in Kelccanka (Anacleto worked in tourism before Peru went into lockdown) and because there is such limited access to necessary goods, many in Kelccanka have reverted to a traditional system of trade and barter. Thanks to this practice, Anacleto has been able to trade various types of potatoes that he grows and fava beans from his family farm for basic supplies like salt, sugar, and fruits that come from other neighboring communities that are accessible by foot.
Anacleto does not have a particularly hopeful outlook on what the future holds; he fears the virus will make its way into his community and wreak havoc on the health and wellbeing of those he loves as it has in other corners of the world. “In other communities, this sickness is advancing and many are dying,” Anacleto shares with us, his voice full of worry. “In Lima and other countries, lots of people are dying. We’re afraid of the same thing happening in our community.” Still, he has faced this pandemic head-on, with hard work, resiliency, and many precautions. As a health worker, he knows that he has many tools at his disposal to defend against COVID, as well as other diseases, and this motivates him to act. He feels that it is his duty to educate his neighbors in preventative practices to keep them safe and healthy.
It is easy to relate to Anacleto’s feelings of fear and hopelessness, and this is why we believe it’s more important than ever for us to maintain partnerships with our promotoras and their communities.
Join with us in our Resiliency Campaign to stand with Anacleto as he continues to be a vital health resource for Kelccanka during such uncertain times. Visit our Donate Page, and make a gift today!