Acupuncturists Without Borders (AWB) has never been called upon to respond to so many disasters in such a short amount of time.
Hurricanes in Florida, Texas and Puerto Rico; the shooting in Las Vegas; and devastating wildfires in California. Here are some highlights of AWB’s disaster relief work in the past several months:
- Houston, TX (Hurricane Harvey) – Ten AWB volunteers provided over 500 treatments in September and October in two locations.
- Florida (Hurricanes Irma and Maria) – Clinics were offered by AWB-trained volunteers in the Tampa/St. Pete area, Naples, and the Florida Keys.
- Las Vegas, NV (October 1 Shooting) – AWB worked with the Oriental Medicine community to provide trauma recovery treatments at Wongu University of Oriental Medicine through October.
- Puerto Rico (Hurricane Maria) – In December, 10 AWB volunteers from the US and Puerto Rico provided almost 700 treatments in communities devastated by Hurricane Maria. See a more detailed update below.
- Northern California (wildfires) – In Sonoma county, AWB volunteers set up over 20 clinics in evacuation centers and medical centers to treat evacuees, first responders and other members of the community.
- Southern California (Wildfires) – AWB-volunteers offered eight clinics for local residents and first responders since the wildfires broke out the week of December 4 including one in San Diego, two in Ojai, one in Ventura, and three for firefighters at the Ventura County Fairgrounds in collaboration with Chiropractic First Responders and Integrative Healers Action Network. In total about 150 people were treated.
I’ve been on the fire for quite some time and this is the first moment I’ve had to venture to the beach (where treatments were provided). The acupuncture/ear seed treatment helped me reach a point of relaxation I haven’t felt since I left home. Thank you so much for helping me get there. Bless you.Captain Maggi Kouffeld
Thank you to all the amazing volunteers who have provided treatments and compassionate care to so many people in disaster-devastated communities across the country!
Hurricane Maria forever changed Puerto Rico and its people in 24 hours. More than 1000 people died during the storm, or from a lack of medicine, water, power, communications and other resources. Three months later, 1.4 million Puerto Ricans still do not have power and/or running water. Houses are gone, particularly in the mountains where the poorest people live in wooden dwellings. Many people bathe with baby wipes. Traffic lights and signs are absent, making driving a new public health hazard. And on top of these ongoing acute challenges, the livelihoods of tens of thousands of people are gone for years to come: coffee, avocado, and plantain orchards have vanished. Many of our fellow American citizens feel abandoned by their government.
And yet, the resilience of the land and people is present and growing. Trees look twisted and curled like something out of Dr. Seuss, but the foliage is growing back. Birds and animals displaced by the storm have found new homes and are returning to their old ones. People are laughing together because it is Christmas. Communities are organized, holding one another. Puerto Rico Se Levanta (Puerto Rico is Rising) is the national mantra and creed.
Shortly after Hurricane Maria hit, people from Puerto Rico began to ask AWB for help with trauma relief. From December 12-20, an AWB team including six acupuncturists from the US and four from Puerto Rico, provided treatments around the island. Here are some outcomes of the trip:
- AWB partnered with the Miami-based Sifre Center, and collaborated with two Puerto Rico-based groups- Salud y Acupunctura par el Pueblo and Boriuca Barefoot Doctors- that are providing acupuncture, herbal medicine, massage, aromatherapy, and naturopathic therapies in hard-hit communities. Going forward, these groups will collaborate to offer pop-up clinics on a regular basis.
- AWB provided a one-day field training for 15 local acupuncturists, physicians, naturopaths and body workers to support ongoing treatments and clinics in Puerto Rico.
- Almost 700 treatments were provided in Salinas, Carite, Guayamas, Indieras Baja, Utuado, San Juan and Cayey by the AWB team.
- AWB plans to return to work with local practitioners in February, 2018.
Deep gratitude to the volunteers, donors and institutions that are making this work possible, with special thanks to AcuMarket, Lhasa OMS and the Mayway Corporation for supplies that are saving lives and supporting the well-being of the people of Puerto Rico!