María Dolores together with the group of sisters and friends of the Missionary Society

María Dolores with the eight volumes that she edited of the Shawi culture

The 14th of March has been a great day for the Missionary Society of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, because in a ceremony at the National Museum of Peruvian Culture, our sister MARIA DOLORES GARCÍA TOMÁS has been acknowledged for her research work on the Shawi culture throughout her life in the mission of San Lorenzo, and for this reason, she has been incorporated as an HONORARY MEMBER of the Professional Association of Anthropologists of Peru.

The Sisters of the Missionary Society are not accustomed to being known in public and still less, of acknowledging with medals, a recognition document and praises, the unconditional and free giving of self in favour of our indigenous brothers…
For this reason, when the country makes this public recognition, we think that the human and solidarity sensitivity towards the most marginalized of society is awakening, such as the indigenous people of our jungle.

So, we rejoice and hope for a new Peru in which the forgotten indigenous people who are last have the same opportunities as the first and can express their identity and their faith from their own culture, which has been the great dream of our Sister.

María Dolores García shares with us the speech she made in this ceremony:
“Cordial greetings to all of you. I thank you for your presence in this important event, which I had never thought would ever take place for me.

In one of the books of the Bible in the Letter to the Hebrews we are told: In ancient times, and in many ways, God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets … “The same thing we could say about the Shawi tribe which in different ways, have been transmitting their traditions, myths, customs, etc. from parents to children, hence, Don Humberto Huiñapi Pisango, tells us how…

Cumpanamá, with his power, did everything he wanted: he has made men and women, the fire, the sun, the moon. He appeared on earth to create the necessary elements for human life, taught them to live within a human group. From how Cupanamá lived walking from one place to another doing all the good things that the Shawi asked of him. Cumpanamá means “the one who accompanies us”.

God placed the desire in my heart and in the hearts of our Shawi brethren to start together this project of collecting all this oral tradition. They have told me the “tales of the old people”, I have written them so they do not get lost over the years. Together we achieved that this work in the eight volumes entitled: “LOOKING FOR OUR ROOTS”.

A big thank you arises from my heart to God for the time I’ve been working, trying to find out the roots of the Shawi people, with the conviction of what Rainer María Rillke said one day: “God waits where the roots are”, and I believe firmly that we have to keep strengthening them always.

My gratitude to each one of the Shawi tribe, for the delicacy they have had towards me, for their generosity in telling me the tales of the olden times, making me participate in the richness of their Cultural Heritage. Without their help it would not have been possible for me to this this work and make it come to light.

I thank the Professional Association of Anthropologists of Peru, Javier Avila Molero and its board of directors, Father James Regan S.I. representative of CAAAP for honouring me with the medal of “Martinez de Compagnon”, and be incorporated as Honorary Member to the Professional Association of Anthropologists of Peru, a great gesture that, as I just said, I had not expected ever in my life.

I am grateful to the Missionary Society of the Sacred Heart of Jesus to which I belong and especially to the sisters of my community who have encouraged me in this research, giving me the necessary time to live my missionary vocation fulfilling this mission for so many years.

Thanks to his lordship José Luis Astigarrga, Bishop of the Apostolic Vicariate of Yurimaguas, for the interest and support I always received from him to continue searching for the roots of the Shawi tribe, and for showing interest to construct the Museum in San Lorenzo, province of Datem del Marañón, to conserve and enrich the history of this area through the study carried out by experts of the archaeological material obtained.

My thanks to the director of the Amazon Center of Anthropology and Practical Application (CAAAP), to the principal Dr. Adda Chueca, who, with great interest and pleasure, approved the project of the collection of myths of the Shawi culture. I have experienced a lot of understanding from her for my delay in doing it.

Many thanks to the editorial team, to Fr. James Regan S.I. director of publications who, with much dedication accompanied this project. I always felt welcomed without by him, in moments of doubt and discouragement. My thanks to the editor Manuel Cornejo in the work of the systematization of the aforementioned project that reflects the deep vocation to apprehend the knowledge of the people who live in the Amazon jungles.

Thanks to Manos Unidas, the NGO from Spain, for their financial contribution to publish the oral literature of the Shawi culture.

Thanks to our friend Rosario Miñano, who has put so much love and has been the soul of all this wonderful event.

My thanks to the people who have also participated in this project and have not been named because they wanted to remain anonymous.

Thanks for everyone’s contribution, I was only the instrument for this work of God.

Thank you very much.

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