… Ann Marie De Jesus does amazing craft, ‘bush medicines’
SIXTY-SIX-YEAR-OLD Ann Marie De Jesus is known for her amazing craft in her community of Long Creek on the Soesdyke-Linden Highway, East Bank Demerara.
She is also known as the local ‘bush medicine lady’ and a farmer who operates a shop in the community. Being multi-talented is perhaps another outstanding quality which adds to her bubbly personality, making it easy to talk with her.
She is a native who moved with her family to the village in 1982, but she migrated to Suriname for a few years and returned to Long Creek eight months ago.
De Jesus says she still has some energy left to keep busy because she must succeed. Despite her age, De Jesus is very fit and active, doing many things simultaneously to earn a living.
Her shop is the only one in the village and because of rising prices, she is forced to sell for a few dollars more, much to the annoyance of buyers who often complain.
De Jesus used to rear chickens to sell and would make cassava bread and other Amerindian cuisine for sale as well.
De Jesus in her spare time would make head-dresses, bags, hats, place mats, necklaces, carpets, shak-shaks, jewel boxes and indigenous wear.
She does her necklaces and earrings with tibisiri straw, beads from a nearby tree and lucky seed and head-dresses with colourful feathers, making them attractive to the eye.
Under this administration, De Jesus reported that she will be able to sell her craft products to the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs of which she is a patron and where her work is known and appreciated.
Making craft has given De Jesus many opportunities in which she participated in some exhibitions — both local and overseas — to showcase Guyana’s craft and talent.
She was the recipient of the Commonwealth Institute in England training programme in 1994 and was a craft teacher. De Jesus is also a trained school teacher and attended the then Lillian Dewar Teacher’s Training School in Kingston, Georgetown, in 1974 and in 2010, she received training at the Venezuelan Institute in tie-dye, fabric-painting, craft, and floral arrangements.
This elder in the community began practising her ‘bush medicine’ after her aunt, who was a well-known herbalist, passed away.
She started to gather leaves from trees and plants with healing properties and boiled them; she would then give it to relatives who were ill. Her work was made known when her relatives recovered after using the ‘herbal bush medicine’ and she continued in that stride whenever the need arises.
“Although I knew about the various ‘bush medicines’ from the plants and trees around me, I wasn’t practising [but] after years of learning from my aunt paid off when my relative took ill… I was forced assist and it worked,” she said.
In addition to using the plants from her community, De Jesus disclosed that she also brought her own plants from Suriname.
“Bush medicine is all about your belief and I am aware of the healing properties of plants and I would boil it to make a ‘drink’ and give to relatives for the relief of many ailments,” she said.
De Jesus revealed that she is from the Arawak tribe and has embraced her culture and tradition as a Lokono woman.
“All the leaves from plants and trees have a purpose and I use it with guidance from my Arawak book and boil it to make ‘bush medicine’ to heal the sick,” she said.
De Jesus can speak in her own dialect and would converse with her elders. She explained that her father came from Madrid in Spain, but migrated to Venezuela and then relocated to Region One (Barima-Waini) in Santa Rosa Village.
De Jesus said he later settled in St. Cuthbert’s Mission as the head teacher and that’s where he met her mother, who was a local of that Amerindian reservation and they formed a union.