28 ISE Magazine | www.iise.org/ISEmagazine
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, pilgrims and ad-
venturers in search of ancient cultures and mysteries
would hop on a plane, train and/or automobile and
arrive in Cusco, Peru, the closest major city to Qero,
which is the last remaining community of the an-
cient Inca Empire (Tawantisuyo). To arrive at Q’ero
requires the physical, mental and emotional commitment of a
five- to six-hour journey, some on foot, over peaks of the An-
des as high as 22,838 feet above sea level.
Many who have traveled to Q’ero found the experience to
be like traveling back in time. The people, place and culture
maintain a direct connection to the Earth despite the history
and suffering brought to the Q’ero by the Spanish conquista-
dors. They are direct descendants of the Incas who escaped the
1572 conquest of Peru by Francisco Pizarro.
The Q’eros’ first interaction with a Western person was with
anthropologist Oscar Núñez del Prado, who led the first ex-
pedition to Q’ero in the Andes in 1955. He learned the Q’ero
people lived under often cruel circumstances as serfs to the
owners of large estates. During the 1960s and 1970s, Núñez del
Prado succeeded in liberating the Q’ero from this system and,
even before official land reform had been established, prompted
a return to the Q’ero a portion of their lands by the Peruvian
Today, as a result of COVID-19, the Q’ero community and
spiritual leaders are again reimagining and reconstructing their
world. With the help of an industrial engineer and a humani-
tarian nonprofit, they are transition ing to a modern techno-
logical age.
Since then, members of the Q’ero nation have been recog-
nized as leaders of the community working to preserve and
pass on their traditions. They are strongly guided by and em-
body their cosmological perspectives, from the smallest aspects
of daily life, like each breath they take, to the largest, the stars
and heavenly bodies they see from atop the Andes. As living
cultural treasures, Q’ero shamans, called paqos, have been in-
Telemedicine provides a modern
shake on ancient teachings
Humanitarian engineering effort devises online outlet for spiritual healers
By Linda Tello
The harsh, cold windy
terrain of the high Andes
Mountains in Peru have
kept the Q’ero community
isolated and off the grid.
Photos courtesy of Ruben Apaza Quispe
Today, as a result of COVID-19, the
Q’ero community and spiritual leaders are
again reimagining and reconstructing their
world. With the help of an industrial engineer
and a humanitarian nonprofit, they are
transition ing to a modern technological age.
November 2020 | ISE Magazine 29
Ruben Apaza Quispe’s family are living descendants of the ancient Inca of Peru.
Traditional Q’ero textiles are created with cosmological traditions woven into the patterns.
30 ISE Magazine | www.iise.org/ISEmagazine
Telemedicine provides a modern shake on ancient teachings
strumental in introducing the spiri-
tual and healing mastery of energy
for which the Q’ero have become
Today, as a result of COVID-19,
the Q’ero community and spiritual
leaders are again reimagining and
reconstructing their world. With
the help of an industrial engineer
and a humanitarian nonprofit, they
are transitioning to a modern tech-
nological age and finding new ways
to use their knowledge and mastery
of energy to preserve, share and teach their spiritual and healing
Q’ero spirituality is known as shamanism, an ancient practice
where the spirit world can be experienced firsthand through
the oldest known healing method. It is not a religion, nor does
it have specific rules or dogma. The word “shaman” comes
from the Tungusic speaking people of Siberia and Northern
China and most commonly means, “one who knows.” Ev-
eryone’s ancestors most likely practiced a form of shamanism,
which is at least 40,000 years old.
A core principle of shamanism is that everything has a con-
sciousness and the ability to communicate. This is possible be-
cause all creation is spiritually interconnected and each person
is a bridge between the seen and unseen worlds (see accompa-
nying article on Page 31).
Reimagining the Q’ero world
for a new generation
COVID-19 has put the spotlight on many challenges that have
emerged in many indigenous communities like the Q’ero.
Modernization has created negative environmental impacts
such as air pollution, water shortages, climate change and food
It may seem unbelievable so high in the Andes but the im-
pact of CO² emissions from the planes, trains and automobiles
that pilgrims and adventurers used to travel before COVID-19
have led to respiratory and other illnesses never before seen
within the Q’ero community. Other challenges include popu-
lation growth and its impact on regenerative agriculture.
The grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the shamans
who worked with del Prado are finding the natural resources
in the community insufcient to support them. This presents a
challenge to younger members of the community who want to
maintain their culture but the limitations of their community’s
resources force them to seek life elsewhere.
The environment in the high Andes is cold, windy and
harsh. Climate change has created even harsher conditions
with shifting rain clouds that no longer provide water for the
mountain lagoons and lakes many Q’ero use for personal and
agricultural needs. All of these shifting challenges are creating
a reality that again force many of the younger Qero to leave
behind their ancestral home.
Many of those who leave do not want to lose their culture.
Fortunately, because of the sacrifices made by their parents and
grandparents, a few youths have had the chance to attend uni-
versities and learn Spanish, English and other languages that
offer them opportunities their ancestors could not have imag-
One such young man is Ruben Apaza Quispe. He is the
grandson of Don Manuel Quispe, recognized as the “Last Inca
and world renown as a spiritual healer or kamasqa.
Born on the highest and most important mountain of the
Q’ero community, the Apu Huamanlipa, Ruben spent his
childhood in Q’ero. As heir to Inca wisdom, he comes from
a culture rich in customs and traditions that were passed from
generation to generation and that celebrated Pachamama
(Mother Earth) and the Apus (sacred mountains). He gradu-
ated from San Antonio Abad National University of Cusco
with a degree in hospitality and tourism thanks to the sacrifice
of his parents.
Ruben is the lead spiritual teacher and wisdom keeper of
Andean Spirit (andeanspirit.org), an organization he is develop-
ing with Whole Earth Engineering Inc. and Federico Sandoval
(The Orange Snowman), a Florida-based artist and web de-
veloper. Our aim is to share the Q’eros’ 500-year-old ancestral
knowledge and traditions transmitted through Inca spiritual
technologies embedded within ancestral weavings, rituals and
Ruben has had to reimagine his experience as a Q’ero
given the challenges modernization and climate change have
brought to his community. Pre-COVID-19 visitors to the
Q’ero brought economic resources that allowed this subsistence
farming community to purchase what they could not produce,
keeping them from starvation in the event of crop failures due
to droughts, excessive rainfall and potato diseases. However,
this economic lifeline and the opportunity of an education for
the Q’ero children have been shut down by the pandemic.
As heir to Inca wisdom, Ruben decided to work with the
Asunta Quispe and Andres Apaza
prepare a traditional gratitude
ceremony (Despacho).
November 2020 | ISE Magazine 31
resources available to him to manifest new opportunities for
his community. While living full time at Qeros throughout
the first Peruvian quarantine of approximately four months, he
became reacquainted with the harsh reality of his community.
My connection to Ruben came through the Andean allyu
community called Heartstone Healing located in Tucson, Ari-
zona. I became a member during my doctoral studies in Ari-
zona where Rubens mother Dona Asunta Quispe – daughter
of Don Manuel Quispe – visited on several occasions to share
Q’ero teachings. I was informed of her unexpected passing in
late 2019. It was through this tragedy that her youngest son,
Dany, and Ruben connected with me on social media.
Connecting ancient practices
via modern outlet
Having indigenous ancestry of the Pijaos from the Colombian
Andes, I had recently founded a nonprofit called Whole Earth
Engineering Inc. with the mission of improving lives via na-
ture-inspired solutions. This mission is accomplished by inte-
grating indigenous wisdom with modern science, technology,
engineering, art, and math (STEAM) opportunities to create
culturally and community-appropriate outcomes.
In keeping with that mission, Ruben and I teamed up with
Sandoval to help us create a website for Andean Spirit. Our
vision is a website that integrates an internet application like a
telemedicine portal where people can set up appointments with
the shamans based on their specialty, just like with Western
doctors. The shamans will conduct the ceremonies from their
small homes in Cusco for individuals up to groups of 10. Work-
ing with Ruben, the shamans regularly travel back and forth
between Cusco and the Q’ero community. Thus, the website
will also facilitate Ruben and his cousin, Elisa, to track each
shamans appointments and payments, especially since many
older shamans are not tech-savvy like their younger relatives.
Using my training as an industrial, civil, environmental and
sustainable engineer in a directly impactful way was my goal
through Whole Earth Engineering Inc., which I have heard
called humanitarian engineering. I have helped Ruben work
Ruben Apaza Quispe
The Q’eros’ ancient wisdom
Q’ero cosmology is comprised of three levels of creation. These worlds are:
The upper world or Hanan Pacha, sky or heaven, the realm of the angels, ascended masters and teachers.
The middle world or Kay Pacha is where humanity resides and representing the current age and the world of material
The Huju Pacha or lower world is considered the inner world or underworld because it is the place of intuition, dreams and the
subconscious. This interior world is the inside of the planet as well as the world within us.
Q’ero shamans are known as Masters of the Living Energy. They believe everything in nature is alive and has a consciousness
because everything especially on the physical plane is a crystallization of divine energy. Through their ancient knowledge, initiations
and ceremonies, Q’ero shamans have mastered the transformation of the condensed and crystalized divine energy present on all
levels of creation.
The Q’ero shamans via their ceremonies and healing practices are masters of working with natural frequencies and focusing these
energies to the corresponding centers of an individual so that shifts in the quantum field manifest on the physical level as what is
To learn more, you can visit andeanspirit.org, www.Land Spirits.com, and inka-world.com/en/qeros.
Sources: “Quantum Physics of Shamanism,”Ruben Apaza Quispe, Linda Tello and Paul Panneton (not yet published);“Shamanic
Journey I,” Pamela Panneton (not yet published).
Using my training as an industrial, civil,
environmental and sustainable engineer in a
directly impactful way was my goal through
Whole Earth Engineering Inc.
32 ISE Magazine | www.iise.org/ISEmagazine
Telemedicine provides a modern shake on ancient teachings
through the challenging logistics of getting
stable internet installed at his home in Cusco
and with Elisa to coordinate online orders for
Q’ero textiles to be sold on the website be-
cause of the limited services in Peru. This has
been a new experience, especially since the
last part of the trip into the Q’ero community
is rough mountainous terrain traveled either
on foot or horseback.
Given the textiles are all handmade, orders
will be fullled via a combination of on-
hand stock for more popular items and spe-
cial orders that will require Elisa to make the
10-hour round trip up to the Q’ero commu-
nity on a monthly or biweekly basis. Coordi-
nating shipping costs with local and interna-
tional package carriers is also something we
had to consider for product pricing. We have
thought through all components, but we ex-
perienced delays completing the website be-
cause of COVID-19. We are working closely
with Sandoval, our web developer, to ensure
the website and software will work similarly
to a telemedicine portal and be ready by the
end of the year.
The Q’ero community is completely off
the grid and does not have internet access
or reliable cellular telephone service. This
is why Elisa will need to travel to Q’ero to
fulll the special orders, and why this proj-
ect is a huge opportunity for Ruben and his
community. And why Whole Earth Engi-
neering is open to collaborating with orga-
nizations willing to work within an appro-
priate cultural framework to bring internet
to the Q’ero community, especially to help
children who have lost the entire school year
because of the lack of access to an online
Once travel is possible again, Ruben will
also lead tours to the Q’ero community
through Andean Spirit. He envisions the
tours as eco-adventure experiences for any-
one who feels the call, and with his degree in
hospitality and tourism, he will work to ac-
commodate everyones needs. Whole Earth
Engineering is also working with Unlock-
ing Silent Histories founder Dr. Donna De-
Gennaro of the University of North Carolina
Wilmington and Expressions of Humanity
founder Enolia Foti to develop and imple-
ment programs that give a voice to indig-
Meet the shamans
Born in Q’ero, Andres Apaza Ccapa is
a teacher and Andean priest or paqo
(specialist in working with Earth
energies). He comes from a line of
Andean masters, is 60 years old and
speaks Quechua, the language of
the Incas.
Eduardo Chura Apaza was born in
Q’ero and is part of a long line of
Andean medicine teachers from
Q’ero Quechuas located in the upper
Andes of Peru. He is an heir, teacher
and Andean paqo with more than
20 years’ experience performing
ceremonies and healings. He
specializes in expanding human
consciousness through meditation,
ceremonies and spiritual initiations
in energetic places.
As the son of Don Manuel Quispe,
Nazario Quisper Yapura is the legacy
of an “altumisayuq,” a specialist
in working with cosmic energies.
He is 67 years old and maintains
the ancestral wisdom and spiritual
ceremonies for the healing of the
body, mind and spirit.
Fermin Quispe Apaza and Victoria
Chura Rooms are a Q’ero priest
couple with extensive spiritual
knowledge. Through ancestral
wisdom and natural medicine
rituals, they focus on helping people
overcome, solve and cure what they
want to improve in their personal
November 2020 | ISE Magazine 33
enous youth and identify empowerment opportunities for the
Q’ero people, especially women and girls.
Many Q’ero, especially women and children, are without
the support of their spouses as COVID-19 travel restrictions
and quarantines prevented many from returning to Qero,
compounding their social and resource challenges. Future
projects would include developing tours that target STEAM
enthusiasts who have a fascination with ancient Inca engineer-
ing and a desire to use their engineering training to help oth-
ers help themselves.
High-tech shamans: A modern twist
on ancient wisdom
Shamans are spiritual practitioners with many years of train-
ing and specializations. Ruben realized now is the time to rei-
magine the way the Q’ero, masters of a spiritual tradition with
roots as far back as 40,000 years, could step out into the world
and offer their wisdom based on love, resulting in andeanspirit.
org for the Q’ero shamans. Given the Q’ero community has
young members living in both Cusco and Q’ero, the youth
are embracing opportunities via technology to obtain their
basic needs while at the same time introducing their ancient
wisdom to a larger audience, including those with limited re-
sources unable to travel to Peru or those with disabilities for
whom the trip is unfeasible.
When completed, the Andean Spirit website will allow in-
dividuals and groups of two to 10 to book appointments with
specific shamans. Each appointment will have a set fee based
on the number of participants. In keeping with their heart-
focused spirituality, two days per month will be reserved for
donation-only appointments. Individuals unable to afford the
regular rates of the healing session will have the opportunity
to make appointments and donate what they can.
Additionally, four appointments per month will be gifted
via lottery, providing for those unable to pay for services an-
other opportunity to receive spiritual healing. In developing
the concept for the website and online portal, it was of utmost
importance for the Q’ero that all people wanting to experi-
ence healing had opportunities to do so regardless of means.
This is denitely a new shake on medicine, ancient and mod-
Using the internet to create a telemedicine-type platform
for the Q’ero to provide spiritual healing and hope to the
world, as well as obtain economic resources needed for the
survival of their community, is a new paradigm for those of us
with a STEAM background. Andean Spirit is an opportunity
to create a sustainable economy for the Q’ero while travel is
suspended due to COVID-19. Moreover, it is an avenue to
bring healing that can continue after the pandemic for people
unable to travel such a long and difficult trek.
By integrating ancient traditions with modern technol-
og y, andeanspirit.org is creating a bridge for younger members
of the Q’ero community that unites millenia-old traditions
with technology the younger Q’ero want and use. It shows
that as the world is evolving, the Q’ero can evolve how they
share their traditions with the world. Though Q’ero beliefs
may be based on an ancient cosmology, many of the younger
residents were born in the late 20th century and live in the
21st centur y.
Through andeanspirit.org, the Q’ero can use modern tech-
nology to preserve and share their traditions while living in
the modern world, especially for young adults like Ruben,
who are experiencing the changing tides. But unlike his an-
cestors, whom the conquistadors took by surprise, this time
the Q’ero will be ready.
Linda Tello, Ph.D, PE, is founder of Whole Earth Engineering Inc.,
and a licensed professional industrial engineer. Her specialization is the
integration of indigenous wisdom with modern STEAM opportuni-
ties. For more information about Whole Earth Engineering or how
to support projects in the Qero community, visit www.WholeEarth
Engineering.org. Contact her at drLinda@wholeearthengineering.org.
Learn more about humanitarian engineering
The goal to improving lives throughout the world is a growing focus in the world of industrial and systems engineering and IISE.
Here are some examples:
IISE Sustainable Development Division: The division holds an annual volunteer project at the IISE Annual
Conference & Expo, among other efforts. To read more about its goals and past projects, visit www.sustainableengineer.org.
ISE Magazine: Recent articles dealing with sustainable practices and humanitarian efforts include “Finding sustainability
lessons half a world apart” in the September 2020 issue at link.iise.org/isesept20-albertson; “Rebuilding homes and lives
with an automaker’s advice,” in the December 2019 issue at link.iise.org/isedecember2019_sbp; and “Mission imaginable:
Putting ISE principles to work in Haiti” in the August 2019 issue at link.iise.org/ISEAug19_Neder.
Problem Solved: The IISE Podcast: Brion Hurley of the IISE Sustainable Development Division interviews the
co-founder of SBP (St. Bernard Project) in “Disaster Response and Sustainability with Liz McCartney” at link.iise.org/