Author: Gavilanna Marchese Gaviliacava is an indigenous leader from the Bolivian Amazon region.
She is one of the world’s only known women who has been a medical doctor for over 40 years.
Her first experience with the Bellamonta plant was when she was a young girl, when her grandmother had her treated for cancer.
When I was a child, my father was a medical officer of the Bolivia National Guard.
I remember that day very well.
He gave me some of the Bella medicinal plant and I drank it.
Later, I went to the Amazonian village where my grandfather had been killed by an arrow.
The whole time I was crying.
I remember thinking: I can do this.
I thought that this is the way to live.
I grew up with two other people.
The first one was my father, who was a teacher.
I had no friends and was a little boy.
And the second one was a boy, who had been a soldier.
My father taught me the ways of medicine.
I was always very interested in medicine.
When my father died, I had a chance to learn the ways from my grandfather, who taught me.
My grandfather had some friends who were doctors.
He used to go to the hospital and teach me.
When the army came to collect my grandfather’s body, they took away all his medicines.
They also took away my mother and my sister.
I told them: If you don’t take away my medicines, I will kill myself.
They didn’t care.
I decided to go into medicine.
I started to do some work, and I learned the medicine.
It was very important to me.
I also knew that this plant was not indigenous.
They called it Belladonna, which means “goddess”.
I had to learn it.
My grandmother told me: This is what I want you to do.
I want all my children to have a good life.
When we got to the university, I decided I wanted to be a doctor, and the doctor gave me the name of the medicine that I used.
I used it.
It became my specialty.
My grandmother and I used the Bellumonta, which was a special plant.
When we were going to the city, they brought me some medicine.
When I saw that I was able to use it, I was happy.
I wanted my children and grandchildren to have the same chance.
I knew that my father would be proud of me.
My first trip to the doctor’s office, the first thing he said to me was: If I don’t have a medicine, I’m going to kill myself!
I had a very happy childhood.
My mother always took care of me and made sure that I had enough food, and that I never went hungry.
She gave me a lot of things to eat.
I would go to school, but I always had to come home before 7 p.m. and sleep on the floor.
I didn’t like that, so I went out to play.
I learned the basics of medicine and became very good at it.
I became a good doctor.
After a while, my mother became ill.
She died in January.
The next year, I started teaching at a university in Bolivar.
I also became very rich.
My father died.
I went into medicine, and then I started to teach at another university.
I started doing some teaching, and in June, I became president of the National Council of Teachers.
In that same year, the army was still in Bolivia.
I got a letter from my mother saying: I am going to die soon.
I was very happy.
She told me that she wanted me to stay at the hospital until she died.
I didn’t know the extent of my mother’s illness.
My maternal grandmother was the most kind person in the world, but she was also very difficult.
When she had cancer, she told me to tell my father about it.
My grandfather said: My daughter died from cancer.
My sister died from a lung infection.
I have no idea how she died, and my father doesn’t know either.
My son and I were very worried about her.
I took care that she wasn’t in pain, because I thought she was going to be sick.
I would take her to the pharmacy and take her medicine.
She would take it, but if she had a headache, I wouldn’t take it.
She used to cry.
She was always crying.
I kept telling my father: She doesn’t need this medicine, you should have taken it when you were a child.
I always told him that my mother used to die.
I had the idea to start a pharmacy, and to be honest, I didn`t know that there were medicinal plants.
When they saw that, they said: Well, it`s not a good idea to sell them.
So I decided not to