Eda Zavala Lopez – Peru
A wisdom keeper, healer and activist, Eda Zavala Lopez is on a mission to help preserve the Amazon rainforest in Peru. As the ambassador for ImpactAVillage in Peru, she has helped many indigenous people in the Amazon improve their communities with better education and sanitation. Eda shared with us her incredible story about her mission to increase awareness and healing though her open heart and deep love for the Amazon.
â€œTimes are very challenging, watch out Mother Earth! She is talking to us very strongly and we all need to pay attention as we see chaos and destruction everywhere. The human footprint has impacted her seriously and damaged her unique beauty and her innocent children – plants, trees, animals, rivers, oceans and Indigenous people all over the planet. She is shouting, â€˜Humans this is enough!â€™ â€
These are the words of Eda Zavala Lopez, the ImpactAVillage Cultural Ambassador in Peru. Eda is a Peruvian Curanderaâ€”a Healer, a Medicine Womanâ€”who is walking through her purpose. She is a direct descendant of the Wari people of Peru, is a living example of one whom not only practices what she preaches but she truly lives and walks her talk. Indigenous wisdom from the Highlands (Huarochiri and Huanta) and the Amazon rainforest (AshaninkaTribe) is a part of her DNA.
Edaâ€™s mission is to be the Voice of Mother Earth wherever she goes, as well as the passionate voice of her ancestors. Even in the wake of continuous global destruction, deforestation and pollution, Eda doesnâ€™t give up, but still encourages us to be more aware of our connection with nature and to deeply understand why the Amazon is so important to protect and preserve, far beyond shamanic purposes.
As long as Eda can remember, from her very first awakenings, she was taught by the elders in her family and villages and by her beloved grandmother who opened her heart and soul to the sacredness, exquisite beauty and healing powers of nature. This profound wisdom was passed down to her from the shamans of different tribes from all over the Amazon jungle and the mountains. From them she inherited ancient traditions and deep knowledge related to plants, spirits, and enchanted storytelling. Their wisdom fed her spirit and fueled her innate healing gifts. Practically before she could walk she was made aware of the magical encounters among human beings and medicinal plants, mountains, rivers, waterfalls and lakes.
Today, Eda is the voice of life itselfâ€”especially all that the Amazon represents not only for its Indigenous occupantsâ€”but also for each of the plants, animals, and human generations to come who depend on the rainforest for sustenance, for the very air we breathe. All species hold gifts of restoration and renewal. Edaâ€™s goal is to help keep them alive on the planet and within us all. It is a huge and daunting undertaking but this is one relentless shaman of the highest degree. Wherever she goes, whomever she talks to and heals, Eda brings a very ancient knowledge from the Amazon and the Andes to keep us all informed about the importance of preserving the Amazon rainforest and the importance of protecting Indigenous territories within it.
Admittedly, Eda doesnâ€™t live in any comfort zone. Restless to teach, inspire and heal in all the Americasâ€”both South and North– Eda is regularly invited to the United States by friends, institutions, colleges, non-profits and other entities. Through the various formats of lectures, workshops, personal healings, panel discussions and more, this spiritual master passes on her experience, knowledge and deep dedication to preserving indigenous Peruvian knowledge and pristine forests.
Thanks to the perseverance of her Elders as well as Eda herself, weâ€™re able to reap the rewards of ancient Peruvian healing practices today. These practices astonish and inspire people of the modern world to live in harmony with nature and to help continue the vital preservation of the Eldersâ€™ sacred homelands. Eda follows these teachings and shares this beautiful message from a far distance alive within the South American jungle.
Because she is a bridge between the indigenous worlds as well as the modern world, Eda is able to translate the needs and desires of each. Educated in Sociology and Anthropology at Catholic University in Lima, Peru, Eda is keenly aware of both the importance Western education and the preservation of indigenous practices, teachings, culture, and language.
Working closely with Eda as cultural ambassador, ImpactAVillage has supported that very bridge between the two worlds. Desiring to offer hygiene and cleanliness to the Mushuk Llacta de Chipaota community within the Peruvian Amazon jungle, with the support of ImpactAVillage and direction of Eda, they successfully created the building of a modern bathroom complete with toilets, a shower and washbowl. This was huge for the community. But the ImpactAVillage and Eda team didnâ€™t stop there. Together they were able to fund the local building and distribution of school desks and chairs for the entire Shawi community. Their work together continues currently with the building of a school and, in time, a healing center. Working non-stop with the Shawi community for over three years, coordinating, translating, mobilizing and collaborating with parents, teachers, and leaders from the nine Shawi villages, Eda has been unstoppable in her efforts to bring education into their communities. Education is a fundamental right for all, and Eda works hard to make sure these indigenous communities have access to it.
We asked Eda about her work with ImpactAVillage.
What is the key to the success of bridging such disparate worlds? Why is it working?
We developed from a friendship to a profound trust. Getting to know each other. The founder of ImpactAVillage, Lisa Wade, whom I consider my beautiful sister, visited us in the Amazon and saw the magic, she took the plant medicine, met our people. Felt the spiritual power everywhere. And the need. It was a miracle that evolved over time. I can only say that we grew a trust and deep friendship between us that continued to grow. ImpactAVillage was this rare energy exchange of healing and needs met on both sides. I can say it best that ImpactAVillage is Respect. Dignity. Love. Thatâ€™s who Lisa Wade is and thatâ€™s what she gave to us.
What makes the connection between the two worlds work?
It has to be transparent between ImpactAVillage and me. Between the teachers and parents and me. Somehow, we have to all speak from a place that resonates and cuts through our different dialects, languages, cultures, cosmologiesâ€”all of it. We have to feel what dignity and trust feel like. We may be poor, but we keep our dignity alive and rise up with our children. The bridge between the Amazon worlds and the modern worlds have to be just thatâ€”Dignified, giving us empowerment, formal education, the finances to help us accomplish some kind of better living conditions without sacrificing the soul of who we are. Itâ€™s a challenge but itâ€™s all possible when youâ€™re able to work with the goodness of ImpactAVillageâ€”which is so sensitive to everything I care about, too, and that is health and education. I liken it to a seed thatâ€™s planted and grows into a beautiful flower. Thatâ€™s what this partnering is. Itâ€™s intuitive and respectful and filled with love and trust. And it feels so good.
Why do you do what you do?
I do the same for my people as I do with others wherever I travel and to whom I speak. I expect an energetic give and take. I want to help educate, broaden bilingual teaching and learning, to never accumulate financial abundance but rather share it, grow from it. I give the same way I receive. Energy is all around to elevate each other, not to sell your soul.
It has been a joy seeing the result of the children deep within the jungle respond to the gifts ImpactAVillage has been able to give them.
They deeply appreciate everythingâ€”every shower, toilet, sink, desk, and chair, all of it. Theyâ€™re thrilled. They know itâ€™s all a gift and they appreciate it all. They recognize the importance of education and these tools to help them for their future.
Why do you think so many people are drawn to who you are and what you say?
I have never veered from the truth of who I am. I never pretend to be something else. I am proud to be me and that is a Medicine Woman. People of all walks of life are now paying attention to what Iâ€™m saying about the protecting and preserving of nature. Iâ€™m credible to both conservationists and anthropologists and they know that I am educated traditionally and academically in those fields as well as from what I have learned in my indigenous world. I come from a place of knowing. And because Iâ€™m also a Healer, people trust that I know what is good for the mind and body, the spiritual self as well. Iâ€™m rescuing the values of Mother Earth speaking in a language all can understand and trust.
What gives you hope?
Knowing that The Creator wants me to do what I am doing. I evolved a lot when I began traveling and teaching in North America. The generosity of what so many other non-profits are doing to better the world; so many young people who want to make positive changesâ€”all give me hope. This broader point of view opens my mind and expands my vision, my perspective. I feel that I am more mature mentally and emotionally than ever before. And with that newfound maturity I am more assertive. My activist self is speaking louder and stronger. I canâ€™t stop letting the world know what must be done to save it. Maybe it happens one day, one week, something, someone activates that inner fire, that spark that reminds me to keep on fighting. I know I have to do something. I canâ€™t be passive. As I am now an Elder I must uplift the young ones. I canâ€™t give up because so many are turning to me to believe in a better tomorrow.
Do you ever feel hopeless about the world?
How can we not? Yes, sometimes I do feel this great sadness. So much is being destroyed. It seems that we humans just donâ€™t care about nature, about Mother Earth. The caring has been displaced by greed, power, and money. It hurts when I see my people, all of Peru, the great poverty and the fact that there is no one who seems to care. The trees are being cut down. The rivers poisoned. The animals, plants, all disappearing. My soul feels deeply saddenedâ€”abandonedâ€”by this uncaring. People no longer feel with their hearts anymore. Theyâ€™re more like zombies.
How can we help you and help each other save this planet?
We must find our way back to our hearts. We need to talk and think and care from our hearts first. Honesty and truth must be number one. We mustnâ€™t pretend to be something we are not. In Peru we face challenges all the time and facing them and growing from them is the fuel for strength to cope with whatever is before you. We have a Peruvian saying that translates into this: Donâ€™t focus too much on yourself because out there is more. If weâ€™re in our own cocoon of pain and sorrow then we are stuck in ourselves. Many women tend to enclose themselves like this. We need to feel the pain and then move on. Grow from it. Let our hearts lead the way out of our own selves and love in a bigger, more nurturing way that saves and grows others. I donâ€™t stop. My comfort zone is the world. I move, travel, hike, teach, learn non-stop. Iâ€™m never static. My heart keeps growing and embracing in bigger ways. We all have the ability to make big changes. We can all rescue and protect and heal in our own ways. And we must. Time is running outâ€¦