By the time Robin and Brenda ended up on location together, Brenda had been shooting film and photography for both humanitarian and wildlife projects for over 10 years, based mostly in East Africa. Robin had been working in and out of Oaxaca for almost 15 years with various community-based projects based on alternative healthcare and sustainability. She was also a newly-minted practitioner of Chinese medicine.
Brenda’s next project would bring them together in order to tell the story of the Promotoras de Salud (Health Promoters) on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in Oaxaca, Mexico.
The project was simple: where healthcare was lacking, women were mobilizing to care for the health of their communities by revitalizing their own traditional plant medicine, while learning basic triage, and even acupuncture.
After a month on location, surrounded by 40 varieties of salvia, arnica, and other native roots and leaves boiling over open fires, Brenda and Robin both realized that traditional plant medicine was more than just healthcare. It was a world unto itself, which opened avenues to biodiversity, food security, and conservation. Their month on the ground also shed light on even bigger themes, such as where economy meets culture, and how these ideas impact migration, family structure, and above all, hope. Most importantly, they witnessed how women were highly impacted by these trends yet continued to bear the responsibility as protective figures in their communities.
Surely, there were more stories to tell.