Aquilina Palomino

Published on Monday, 14 September 2015

“As a professional, a citizen and a mother, I knew what I had to do, and I did it”

You became a nurse and resumed your interest in fighting anaemia.

My dissertation was about anaemia! And thanks to my thesis director, who is a mad scientist, I learned about heme iron (bovine haemoglobin powder).

That is how another amazing chapter in your life started. They do not produce it in Peru, but they do in Chile, so you left and someone donated half tonne! You did not know how to bring it, so a Peruvian man sent all the cargo to Uchiza, for free.

This is life (laughs)... You have to have faith. There was no way I could bring that quantity of heme iron, but this Peruvian man knew the doctor who donated it to me and he had lived in Uchiza. He had a big plant there, and carrying half a tonne was nothing to him.

It was not long before the results were visible in children with anaemia.

Yes. But first, we had to find out how to mask the smell. We tested several alternatives and the best was cacao. We ran other tests, and then something happened: a pregnant woman came to the health centre with iron levels at 5 (normal levels rank between 12.1 and 15.1 grams per decilitre). We had to make an urgent transfusion, but some members of her religion refused, so the doctor told me, “Give her your cocoa!” and so I did. Then they took her, she could not even remain standing! One week later, her husband asked for more; she was doing fine. Until then, I knew improvement was possible but I had no evidence. I spoke with my thesis director, “Dr. Benavente, it works!”, and we began to document each case thoroughly.

Your goal was not to sell it, you just wanted to help.

Not at all! There were social programmes through which I thought I could channel the aid, but they paid no attention to me. I found out how inhuman the world can be. But as a professional, a citizen and a mother, I knew what I had to do, and I did it.

As no one paid any attention to you, you became a businesswoman and introduced your nutritional supplement into the market.

I quit my job. I was a coordinator in an international project, my salary was in dollars, and we were working on micronutrients. But I wanted to start the company, and there could be a conflict of interest. So I quit, because transparency is important to me.

It has been more than ten years ever since. Do you still think you are fulfilling a mission?

I am convinced. This is an adventure and I love it! Even though I have been through moments of anguish even my health was affected I cannot turn back, I cannot back down.

You are aware that your product is useful.

Of course!

Today it reaches the whole country.

And next year we plan to enter the U.S. Some have it there already, people take it to their relatives.