Dinah Veeris is on a one-woman crusade to preserve traditional medicinal plants. In the early 1980s she began Den Paradera, a magnificent botanical garden where she propagates over 300 species of wild medicinal plants.
The name “Den Paradera” comes from the Paraguiri Indians who once had one of the biggest gardens on this island. Dinah says, “I started Den Paradera because I saw that we were loosing a lot of information, a lot of herbs. You could be out in the wild areas of the island today and see a lot of herbs. The next day you would not find them anymore. So I started to bring the herbs to this garden to help save them as well as the knowledge of how to use them.”
When Dinah was unable to find certain species for inclusion in Den Paradera, she
traveled to the neighboring islands of Bonaire and Aruba where the plants had not yet
been eliminated from the landscape. Urbanization and industrialization have change
much of the wild landscape of Curaçao. But Dinah still visits remote hilltops
in hopes of preserving medicinal treasures.
View video of Dinah Veeris
Dinah is known throughout Curaçao as a healer, or in the local language of Papiamento, a curioso. She will take these plants home and make blends of herbal medicine to sell. Her knowledge of the local botany is impressive and she has published books often used by local botanists.
Dinah says “I give my knowledge away because I got it from the older people. They gave me that knowledge and I feel that I have to give the knowledge to other people, to the young people, so they can spread it.”