The Team


Maestra Manuela Mahua

Maestra Manuela Mahua comes from a long-standing and well-respected family lineage of Shipibo healers from the lower Ucayali region of the Peruvian Amazon. Born in 1947, she has more than 50 years of experience working with medicine. She began apprenticing with her father at age 13.

Today she heals and teaches, to both Shipibo and foreigners, and she continues to strengthen her samá, observing multiple periods of dieta throughout the year to learn more and keep her healing power in balance. She has a vast knowledge and understanding of the natural pharmacy and is very open to sharing it with those who are willing to make the commitment to carry on the tradition.

Manuela is an incredibly generous and positive force, and in each ceremony she always makes sure to work on each participant individually through singing her incredible variety of healing songs.

Jurriën van der Waals

Jurriën van der Waals from the Netherlands has been working with the medicine for about 14 year in various traditions and with different healers. His appreciation for Maestra Manuela Mahua’s wisdom with her open and interactive way of teaching led to his decision to dedicate himself to the tradition of the Mahua lineage. Jurriën and Manuela have developed a very special relationship of trust and respect through 7 years of working together.

In 2010 he worked for 6 months as a volunteer for a well-known center in Iquitos, where he met his first Shipibo Maestro who took him to his village to do a 1-month dieta in isolation. After living and working close with him, deep in the jungle, he realised that the samá and working close with a Maestro, were a truer and more fulfilling way to work with the medicine and to receive deep teachings and healing.

The following year Jurriën went back to the same village to do a 3-month dieta in isolation. Upon completing the dieta he revisited some of the Maestras he worked with in Iquitos and began to strengthen his samá through intense work with Maestra Manuela Mahua, her uncles, and a foreign Maestro who has been trained in her family lineage.

Brian Robert Best

Brian is a linguistic anthropologist and ecologist, who has been a student of Manuela since 2011.  His academinc studies led him to the Ucayali River where he has been sharing and learning with the Shipibo-Konibo since 2003.

He is a specialist in ecological sanitation with the NGO Alianza Arkana and has begun working in Shipibo-Konibo language revitalization. To the amusement of Manuela, Jurriën and others, he tries -often unsuccessfully- to find time to observe dieta while balancing work and a young family. Brian lives near Manuela and provides assistance on many levels, including as her interpreter and long-distance travel companion.