Since January 2019, AWB has been working at the US-Mexico border to bring trauma healing treatments to migrating people and community volunteers. Our work began in Texas, and has expanded to California, where AWB volunteers have taken two week-long service trips since August, 2019. We’ve treated hundreds of people-asylum seekers and refugees who face devastating living conditions, legal challenges, and health problems – as well as community activists and health practitioners who often suffer from secondary trauma due to their tireless, supportive work.
AWB acupuncturist and trainer Julia Raneri providing treatments in Tijuana, October 2019
AWB is working with the Refugee Health Alliance in Tijuana, as well as local migrant support organizations in Southern California. We offer direct service (acupuncture, herbal medicine, body work) and are training local practitioners, to expand services and access for thousands of people who need help with physical and emotional pain.
AWB’s goal is to train enough practitioners to provide weekly trauma-reduction acupuncture services in Southern CA-Tijuana locations within the next year.
AWB & Integrative Healers Action Network (IHAN) are looking for licensed/certified integrative medicine and health practitioners with malpractice insurance AND administrative support staff to volunteer at an Integrative Health Clinic we are setting up inside the Red Cross shelter in Healdsburg. As of right now, there are over 100 people staying in this shelter who have evacuated the fires in the Northern Sonoma County town of Geyserville. Trauma response symptoms are common among fire evacuees and can be expressed through symptoms such as physical pain, anxiety, stress, and insomnia that integrative medicine and health practitioners have many tools to offer to those in need. Those staying at Red Cross shelters are usually the most underserved members of our community, so this is an opportunity to provide healing and support to those most in need.
TO ENSURE SAFETY AND PROPER CARE TO PATIENTS, PLEASE DO NOT SHOW UP AT THE SHELTER LOCATION TO VOLUNTEER WITHOUT BEING PROPERLY REGISTERED AND APPROVED FIRST (SEE BELOW).
PRACTITIONERS: Are you interested in volunteering? The Red Cross requires that only licensed/certified practitioners with malpractice insurance can volunteer inside their shelters. This means: acupuncturists, chiropractors, naturopathic doctors, massage therapists, clinical homeopaths, integrative MDs, DOs and nurses. While we absolutely recognize the validity of other types of practitioners, we are not currently able to accommodate those without an active license/certification and malpractice insurance.
STEPS TO VOLUNTEER: 1. Go to integrativehealersactionnetwork.org 2. Click on “Volunteer Registration” 3. Register as a Practitioner 4. Submit your $35 donation to cover the administrative costs of your registration. 5. Complete the Volunteer Questionnaire and submit to firstname.lastname@example.org 6. Please email a copy of your malpractice and current license to email@example.com along with your Questionnaire. 7. You will be receiving a separate email from our partner, Asurint, who conducts our background searches. Please follow the instructions in the email and complete the Asurint paperwork as soon as possible. 8. Once the above steps are complete, our Volunteer Coordinator Cynthia will contact you for a quick phone call and will get you on the schedule to volunteer.
AWB volunteers Julia Raneri, Meg McDowell, Jennifer Trombley, and Carla Cassler just returned from four days at the Enclave Caracol Clinic (sponsored by the Refugee Health Alliance) in Tijuana, Mexico. This is the first of regular service trips that AWB will be making in the coming year to provide trauma and pain relief treatments to asylum seekers, immigrants, refugees, and community support volunteers in the Tijuana-San Diego area. AWB already has a similar project in Texas.
Over 9,000 people are waiting in Tijuana for asylum processing, many living in shelters under very difficult conditions. The Refugee Health Alliance was created last year “to help mobilize Southern California providers and their networks down to the Tijuana/San Diego international border to aid in the refugee crisis.” The Enclave Caracol Clinic, staffed by volunteer medical providers, herbalists and midwives, is open weekdays to provide integrative medical services to the migrating community. On Saturdays, additional volunteers staff mobile clinics in shelters throughout Tijuana, where people are living while they wait.
On this first service trip, we treated many people (most from Honduras, Haiti, and Cameroon) for significant pain and trauma patterns. We also worked with clinic herbalists to enhance a wonderful pharmacy that includes many traditional Mexican herb remedies. Over the next months, as we work with the clinic staff, we will learn more about traditional healing practices and herbal medicine used in Mexico and Central America, and offer Chinese medicine as a complement.
We plan to train local practitioners to provide treatments, and work on the California side of the border to support asylum seekers once they are within US borders.
Special thanks to the Mayway Corporation for donating huge amounts of herbs, to Lhasa OMS and Acurea Medical for acupuncture supplies, and to Kurt Chilcott (CA Endowment) and Patricia Simpson for financial support for this project. If you would like to participate in this project, please contact Carla Cassler at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The publication, Holistic Primary Care, has published a fantastic article outlining AWB’s work at the Texas/Mexico Border. AWB member Nam-Thu Tran initiated this relief effort right after taking our Healing Community Trauma course. Please read and share!
Please check out our newvideo,AWB Bridging Borders, which documents our work with immigrants, asylum-seekers and community volunteers at the Texas/Mexico Border. Thanks to Diana Fried and Naike Swai for their work on this!
There is a humanitarian crisis at the U.S./Mexico border. Large numbers of refugees are camping out for weeks and months on or near the international bridges connecting Mexico and Texas. They hope to enter the United States legally; many seek asylum. They have few resources and are in desperate need, relying heavily on grassroots volunteers from the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) for sustenance. If allowed into the U.S., they spend additional weeks or months sleeping on the floor in harsh conditions in detention centers at the border, where only minimal clothing and food are provided. From there they may be deported or eventually released, sometimes hundreds at a time, with no resources and often nowhere to go.
Between January 4 and January 6, 2019, an 8- member team representing Acupuncturists Without Borders (AWB) conducted 4 acupuncture trauma-relief clinics in the RGV in response to this humanitarian crisis. We partnered with Angry Tías & Abuelas of the RGV to identify local connections and site locations. Our goals were to offer primary trauma relief to asylum seekers and secondary trauma relief to community first responders.
We just completed an amazing three-week journey to Israel and the West Bank where AWB has been working for the past five years. AWB works here because it is a conflict area where most people suffer from deep trauma. Palestinians suffer displacement, discrimination, economic restriction, high imprisonment rates, and other horrors of the occupation. Israelis suffer from traumatic war experiences, terror attacks, and transgenerational trauma from the Holocaust and centuries of antisemitism. And there are other communities that experience trauma-the Druze, Sudanese refugees, and Palestinians who are also Israeli citizens. It is a complicated place with more nuances than not.
It is AWB’s mission to treat EVERYONE suffering from trauma, to intervene in trauma cycles that perpetuate fear and hatred. We also train practitioners to provide trauma reduction treatments in their own communities so that people can receive support over time.
As part of this WHE trip, AWB trip participants trained a group of Palestinian health-workers in the West Bank to do the NADA protocol. This is the second Palestinian training AWB has done this year, and we hope to do another in the near future as word about this work spreads in the West Bank. The other important element of the training is that we bring Israelis, Americans and Palestinians TOGETHER to train and practice. Then we go to Palestinian communities and provide treatments as a mixed diverse team of professionals. This is part of the healing work-to demonstrate that people can work together to serve diverse communities despite all the conflicts and challenges. During the trip we did clinics (called healing circles) for Bedouin women in Tel Sheva, for Palestinians in Beit Jala and Bethlehem, and for a group of settlers and Palestinian farmers who are trying to work together in the West Bank settlement of Gush Etzion.
A few comments from women in Bethlehem after their treatments: “I was afraid before, do not feel afraid now.” “I felt like something was getting out of my body…I had stress and a headache, now I feel much better, no headache or stress.” “I feel like I am in a different world.”
This is the Medicine of Peace.
We learned about indigenous healing practices: Kaballah healing, Bedouin herbology, biblical medicinal plants, modern herb farms in Israel, and how TCM is practiced in integrative settings in Israeli hospitals. We also spent time with old friends from AWB Israel and made many new friends in Palestine. It is easy to give up hope that the conflict here will ever resolve. We are doing what we can, along with many others, to make sure it will. Thank you to everyone who supports our work in this region and throughout the world!
Special thanks to Lhasa OMS and Acurea Medical-USA for donating supplies, and to Ray Lifchez for supporting the Palestinian practitioner training!