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Don Sergio: A Passion for Healing

Shamans, who heal with prayers and medicinal plants, are often a first stop for people seeking medical care in the highlands of Chiapas, Mexico. Indigenous families only visit government hospitals in case of emergencies for fear that doctors and nurses won’t respect their language and customs. Many of those instead turn to Sergio Castro, a revered humanitarian and wound care specialist, known as "Don Sergio."

In 1966, Castro began working in Chiapas as an agronomist and veterinarian. He witnessed alarming conditions in many of the villages and decided to help by building schools and water treatment systems. He also taught himself how to heal long-term wounds caused by burns or diabetes. Now, at 72, he treats over 100 cases a week in his clinic or at patients' homes, free of charge.

Castro's work reveals the sometimes-lethal consequences of cultural mistrust, the challenges faced by those who fall through the cracks in Mexico's healthcare system, and the difference one extraordinary individual can make.

 


 


Credits

Janet Jarman Videography, Photography, and Interviews / Filip Lein and Janet Jarman Editors / Richard Tanner Senior Producer, The New York Times / Kati McKoy Production Assistant

With many thanks to: "Don" Sergio Arturo Castro Martinez, Patricia Ferrer, Sean Graff, Mary Murrell, Ivan Schuster, and all of the families who allowed us into their homes.


Resources

In Mexico, a Healer Who Asks for Nothing in Return The New York Times

Museo de Trajes Regionales + Yok Chij Don Sergio Castro's Official Website

Sergio Castro: Humanitarian of Chiapas Blog

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