Dinah Veeris

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Surrender as a source of knowledge

The knowledge of Dinah Veeris has been taught to her since childhood. Dinah gains her first introduction to the medicinal and caring effects of natural products on the basis of the stories of her mother, Aura Veeris.

Later, when Dinah Veeris focuses on herbal healing, she studies at The California School of Herbal Studies and meets countless old, wise people in Aruba, Bonaire and Curašao who transfer their knowledge to the young Dinah.

Read below what Dinah Veeris says about these people.

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Aura Veeris (Auchi)

Auchi, my mother, was born on December 14th, 1917 in Otrobanda in the street called Kaya Shon Lou de Windt. My mother told me that she didn't like herbal tea as a child and couldn't understand why someone would make a person drink herbal tea. At that time people went to the houses with a large basket full of herbs to sell. When my mother grew older, she understood the value of herbs and, in the event of illness, started using herbal tea herself. With the rise of regular tea, the use of herbal teas was reduced. Many people no longer used herbal tea because it was so easy to make regular tea. But according to her, this tea, made people nervous. When my mother lived in Marie Pampoen where she had her own garden, she started planting herbs herself so she could smell the plants and see them grow. Now she could give herbs to the people whom were in need.

Anastacia Sabina (Chacha)

Chacha was born in Otrobanda on March 29th, 1925. Chacha was very happy to provide me information about the herbs that people use in Curašao. Chacha told me that her mother became interested, because of an aunt, in getting to know herbs and learn how people prepared herbal medicines. Her mother learned a lot from her aunt and Chacha herself learned it from her mother. Chacha had told me that she loves to travel and every time she visits another country, she made it her mission to get to know many herbs that she has never seen here in Curašao/p>

Felipi de Palm

Felipi was born in Nikiboko in Bonaire on May 14th, 1918. His mother was a midwife. From the age of nine, he worked in the Kunuku and earned 40 cents per day. As a young boy he left Bonaire and got to know many countries. He then worked at Shell on tugboats until he retired. I introduce him to you because he helped me with the habits of the past and the meaning of words that are no longer used.

Leonardo Boezem

Leonardo was born on December 29th, 1918 in Nort Sali˝a in Bonaire. He learned a lot about our herbs from his older family members. He proudly told me that his aunt and grandmother healed people with herbs and that they taught him this. He told me that people used to sit under a canopy/shelter on a clear moon and tell each other all about herbs and medicines. You can learn a lot from their conversations. When you are young, you do not pay attention to such things. But as you grow older, they come back to you in your mind. In this way, Leonardo has also grown a love for herbs and the medicines that are made from herbs.

Lucia Anesita

Lucia was born on April 7th, 1911 in Makuarima, Aruba. When I first visited this lady in Aruba, she was very happy when we talked about herbs. She said that it hurt her to see how the herbs, used by our ancestors, were lost in the past. Lucia told me that in the past we almost all knew herbs and people learned how to make medicines out of them. She spent her last years in a home for the elderly.

Raymunda Asunciˇn (Ma Nea)

Ma Nea was born on July 14th, 1911. Her parents lived in Seru Grandi. As far as Ma Nea can remember, her father worked in the courtyard. Every year, starting from August, her father made the courtyard ready for planting in the rainy season. This way he could get a good harvest. Ma Nea has been selling sandwiches and Mankaron at Nieuwpoort since her childhood. After her marriage, she went to the city to introduce her herbs. Later on, Ma Nea didn't sell herbs anymore, but she retained her knowledge of herbs. She died on an old age.

Francisco Geerman (Pachi)

Pachi was born on February 15th, 1907 at Ser'i Bonchi in Aruba. Pachi is a very friendly person. He is always ready to talk to you, when you approach him. Especially if you want to talk about medicines and medicinal herbs. He said that such conversations reminded him of his youth. He was raised with a lot of knowledge of medicinal herbs. His grandmother was an herbalist who made medicines from the herbs coming from the mondi. She was an Indian from the Jivaro tribe. Pachi's father also had a great knowledge of herbs. According to Pachi, many medicinal herbs can still be found in Aruba. His wish is for people to return to nature. The herbs aren't there for nothing.

Guillermo Ignatio (Shon Pe)

Shon Pe was born on February 10th, 1920, across Julianadorp, at the place that was called Maduro, in the house of midwife Ma Clara. Shon Pe's parents are from Rif. That is at Bandabou, near Willibrordus. Already in his youth he was occupied with plants. He was inquisitive and looked for ways to cure ailments with different herbs. When he was 22, he moved to the city. Shon Pe has written for various newspapers, such as the Democrat, La Prensa, Today and in the Lorada di Lotto rubric, where everyone could place a message. He wrote on various topics, mainly about unsanitary conditions in the inner city, houses without toilets, deplorable conditions on the market of Punda and Otrobanda, too few doctors on Bandabou - in those days the third district extended from Boca San Michiel to Westpunt and there was solely one doctor. In 1956-1957 he sold on the market. He sold fruit and vegetables, but also his newspapers, including the "Palabrua redado" (the gossip owl).

Virginia Koeiman (Bir)

Bir was born in Knip on October 7th, 1932. Her paternal grandmother was an herbalist and midwife, and her uncle was also an herbalist. She told me that the knowledge of herbs passed from one person to the next. Her mother also knew a lot about it. She herself did not pay much attention to the preparation of medicines from herbs. Bir was always willing to help me. When I approached her, she always joined me to the Mondi, because she knew the places where the herbs were. She did not only give me information about herbs, but also about the habits of the past of 'Bandabou'.

Carmen van Thijs (Zuster Carmen)

Sister Carmen was born in Weis Afo on March 31st, 1922. She enjoys it when people talk to her about herbs. She told me that she was raised with herbs by her mother. Her mother explained to her how to recognize and use herbs. Hereby, she recognizes all herbs and knows exactly which ones are medicinal and which are toxic. She doesn't like it when someone talks negatively about herbs, because she knows their value. If I want to know something about herbs, I can always go to Sister Carmen and with pleasure she goes into the Mondi with me to teach me how I can recognize the herbs in nature. I was often surprised when she brought me exactly to the place where the herb could be found. It is easy for her, she says, because she has always been using herbs: this way she recognizes them all and also knows where to find them.

Agustin Kock (Gustin)

Gustin was born in San Nicolas in Aruba on July 27th, 1904. His father owned large pieces of land. Every child received a piece of land to plant. When Gustin left school in the afternoon, he had to cultivate his piece of land. Already at a young age he went to Colombia and later to Cuba, where he gained a lot of life experience. Once back, he went to work at the Lago, but he kept maintaining his piece of land. Thanks to his parents, Gustin knows a lot about herbs. But he also paid a lot of attention to herbs himself. His favorite herbs are: seida (flaira) and halue (sentebibu). Gustin looked very young, up to an old age.

Rosenda Gonzales (Ma Chenda)

Ma Chenda was born on March 1st, 1908 in Aruba. Her mother was an herbalist and made medicines. This way Chenda learned about the world of herbs. When I went to Aruba and visited her to get an explanation about something that was not entirely clear to me, she always received me very kindly. She cooked Sentebibu and made pills of them. She made syrup from the kalbas and cooked medicines to laxate. She knew many home-grown medicines. Ma Chenda is no longer alive. She died on July 28th, 1984. We knew her as a calm, friendly woman with a great knowledge of herbs.

Virginia Cervani (Mai Ina)

Mai Ina's birth date was April 1st, 1910. She was born in Roi Katochi, but later she moved to Jongbloed. After her marriage she went to live in Bonam, where she still lives. She told me that as a child she only drank herbal tea. Each herb had a name and while growing up, you learned to use the herb. Her aunt Wana sold herbs and she learned a lot from her. Mai Ina has been selling her herbs on the market for years. In addition to her spices, she also sold coconut oil, kalbas syrup for colds, ruku, sweet pepper, cloves, cinnamon, etc.

Victor Asunciˇn (Pa Toli)

Pa Toli was born on December 24th, 1903 in a place called Rekompensa. After that he went to live in Sabana Baka. He told me that he worked in various places in Curašao, such as Chicho Grandi, Choloma where ostriches were bred, Piscadera, Caracasbaai and Nieuwpoort. Pa Toli had several family members who were herbalists and also a midwife as a family member. He said that people used to sit together in the evening to talk. One person would learn the other which herbs to use to get better.

Lucita Martina (Tan Chita)

Tan Chita was born on October 18th, 1920 in Seru Grandi. Her parents owned a very large courtyard. Her great-grandmother was an herbalist and had many customers. She remembers, very clearly, that those people came to her mother. She listened to their conversations, but did not pay attention to what they discussed, otherwise she would have known much more now. She usually made coffee and cooked for the people who came to see her mother. Tan Chita has really helped me with the knowledge I have now of herbs. Every time I wanted to know something, I could go to her. With affection and patience, she explained to me what I wanted to know. Tan Chita is also one of the elderly who loved herbs and is no longer here.

Mathilda Kock (Tia)

Tia was born on April 4th, 1919 in Nort Sali˝a in Bonaire. When she was 15 years old, she left Bonaire and went to live with a sister in Curašao. After that she lived in San Nicolas, Aruba. The knowledge of herbs that Tia has comes from the old herbalists with whom she came in contact. Next to teaching how to recognize different herbs, she also told a lot about the earlier habits. Through Tia I got to know many people in Aruba. Either I visited Aruba or Tia came to Curašao. We have always kept in touch with each other.


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