Roberto Dansie was born to a healing tradition. At the age of 13, he went
through his initiation as assistant healer to his grandmother, Exiquia
Vallejo. Vallejo introduced him to the Aztec and Maya healing systems,
including the methods to heal susto and espanto – the two key modalities of
psychosocial trauma – and Roberto’s life service to heal trauma began.
At 16, Dansie earned his black belt from the Okinawa School of Martial
Arts, and began teaching this art – free of charge – to street children in
Mexico. At the age of 20, he won the world championship of martial arts and
took this opportunity to reach and train young troubled men in the Eastern
path of wisdom.
It was during this time, and while providing health and educational
services to indigenous communities in Mexico and Central America, that
Roberto was abruptly initiated into the field of trauma of war. Treating
two teachers who had been victims of torture had a life-changing effect on
Dansie, who stated: “My job as a clinical psychologist, which was basically
to adjust deviant individuals to mainstream society, was turned
upside-down. I was not into adjusting people anymore. I was into waking up
people to a reality that needed to be changed.”
As coordinator for children’s social services, Dansie was confronted with
the reality of thousands of street children who had been victims of the
trauma of war. In 1981, he rose to the occasion and coordinated
multi-national efforts to ameliorate the suffering of refuges from Central
His creative integration of modern psychological techniques with the
cultural wisdom of both indigenous and Mexican cultures was quickly
implemented throughout Mexico and Central America. Dansie was of the belief
that under extenuating circumstances teachers can and should become
healers, and he began his training of teachers and volunteers as promotores
de salud (health educators) and traditional healers; on the other hand, he
facilitated the collaboration between faith-based organizations and social
agencies to support the cause of helping children who had been victims of
war at a time when governmental funding was nonexistent.
Dansie also implemented community-based cooperatives to reduce the
financial need of numerous Mexican Natives to migrate to the United States
and develop psychological cultural models in order to care for the
psycho-social needs of rural children.
In the United States, Dansie has always dedicated his services to the
oppressed, particularly children. During his adult life, has lived and
served in Indian country, creating healing strategies that implement
American Indian wisdom. His book, “Semillas de Esperanza,” has become the
“social Bible” for the farmworker community; and he has served the
African-American community as director of the Urban League in Orlando, Fla.
and by giving children born in the United States the opportunity to visit
Africa through the Ambassador program of Rites of Passage.
Through the International Political Refuge Center of Portland, Ore.,
Dansie’s healing models have been used with political refugees from
practically every country; and through the World’s Convention to Stop
Violence, his strategies to incorporate the youth to community-making are
finding their way into the poorest neighborhoods.
Following in the footsteps of his grandmother, Roberto has just celebrated
31 years of serving’ the children of the world. When asked how many
children he has helped, Roberto likes to answer: “Only one, for I have
heard that there is only one perfect child on this earth … and every
mother has that one!”
On June 15 Dansie was awarded the Humanitarian of the Year award from the
International Center for Psychosocial Trauma at the University of
Missouri-Columbia School of Medicine.