Acupuncturists Without Borders -  Hurricane Katrina Relief Effort
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In June of 2008, areas of Iowa and the Midwest experienced severe flooding. We were hearing stories like this:

 “Our city and community has been struck by tragedy and destruction. We each carry the dampness of the past week in our lungs and in our hearts. So much has darkened the skies of our community—evacuations, losses of property … uncertainty, disruption and fear. And we have also seen great generosity and compassion.” Temple Judah News

AWB staff began to mobilize under Kirk Moulton’s leadership, Kirk is an AWB volunteer from Chicago who had attended our Chicago training and had also started a Vets Clinic. Kirk was able to secure locations treating survivors at the Johnson County Fairgrounds Red Cross shelter in Iowa City, and the Prairie High School Red Cross Shelter in Cedar Rapids. This was the first time, after numerous attempts in the past that AWB was allowed to treat inside Red Cross shelters. In the past we had been asked to stay outside and do treatments!

Susan Reed, L.Ac of Maine joined Kirk (they paid their own travel expenses) and they quickly set up a mini training. Ten Iowa practitioners (out of a total of 54 practitioners in the state) attended. Nine of those ten then signed up as field volunteers.

In addition to the Red Cross shelters, we treated at the Westdale Mall (Disaster Relief Center) alongside the Tzu Chi Buddhist Charitable Organization, with whom we developed a great relationship and hope to pursue further collaboration. We also treated at the July 4th fairgrounds.

AWB did not have any money in hand to pay for this effort. We were able to raise a few thousand dollars, to pay for a small portion of the costs, and we were able to secure needle donations from Lhasa OMS. We have set up a Disaster Ready Fund so that we will be in a better position to respond immediately when disasters arise, with funds in hand.

Please donate now what you can to help ensure we are ready when the need arises.

The power of the medicine of community acupuncture was witnessed over and over. The power of doing field work together as a community of acupuncturists was also embracing, fun and transformative.

Susan Reed described one of the clients:

“Like many of the people who come from upstairs, she is carrying her Tzu Chi blanket, clutching it to her. She sits down, and can barely sit still for the needling process, but she manages it, and the needles do their magic almost immediately. She leans her head back against the wall, her eyes close, and she is gone from her worries for a little while. Her blanket is draped across her arms and she is resting deeply, now unmoving. These are a few minutes of grace. It is very affecting to see how she responds – many people notice.”

AWB launched a major effort during this time to try to get permission to bring in out-of-state practitioners. We simply didn’t have enough Iowa practitioners, and many of them were busy with their own practices or were dealing with the disaster themselves. We made contact with FEMA, Homeland Security, Iowa Medical Board, Iowa Public Health Dept., Iowa Governor’s office and the State Attorney General’s office; we even had a pro bono local attorney working with us. In the end, we were told: “At this time, no requests or needs have been identified across the state of Iowa that match with the services you have so kindly offered.”

This is why we want to strongly encourage you to mobilize in your community and state so when a disaster hits, you are ready with permission in place.

We found, as we have in every field effort, that had we had the permission to bring in out-of-state practitioners, we would have had a much larger and more successful program.

Our huge thanks goes out to all who contributed to this effort in so many ways.

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