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Ukrainian Refugee Support

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Our Work

Acupuncturists Without Borders (AWB) is actively organizing support for people being forced to flee Ukraine including Ukrainian citizens, students and migrants from other countries, and refugees from Africa and the Middle East who once again have to find safe haven.

This is a major crisis, and it means an expansion of AWB’s trauma relief work with displaced populations in places like Haiti, Mexico and Greece. As we mobilize, we need and appreciate our community’s continued support to bring the medicine of peace to people escaping war and violence.

Specifically, we are:

  1. Working with our international partners and European colleagues to establish on-the-ground refugee support in Poland and neighboring countries.
  2. Organizing online trauma informed care training resources for practitioners/medical personnel in Ukraine so that they can provide ear seed treatments and other services including materials in local language where necessary.
  3. Organizing supply reserves and starting to screen interested volunteers that can join AWB’s effort on the ground in Europe.

While we appreciate the interest of many people to provide direct services, we have to establish a workable service infrastructure first. This takes time, money, planning, and help with administration, logistics, public outreach and resource mobilization on the ground. Please let us know if you can contribute any of these skills/actions to this effort!

We will update this page every few days so please stay connected! Thank you!

Please contact Carla Cassler at carla@acuwithoutborders.org if you would like to be involved.

Please donate to support AWB’s international refugee work!

Help us Reach our Fundraising Goal to Support Refugees!

Relevant Links

Treatments at a refugee shelter in Bucharest, Romania

If you are in Europe and interested in learning the skills needed to organize trauma relief efforts such as these, please consider joining us at our Healing Community Trauma training June 3-5 training in Berlin, Germany.

UKRAINE REFUGEE SUPPORT UPDATES

APRIL 25, 2022

Here’s an update on AWB’s work to support Ukrainian refugees for the past month:

  • Attempting to work in Polish refugee centers if we can secure governmental permission to do so (there are many systemic obstacles involved, but we continue to pursue this direct service possibility).
  • Providing supplies to Ukrainian doctors INSIDE Ukraine who are using acupuncture, homeopathy, and essential oils in field hospitals.
  • Mentoring nationally-based mobile clinic teams in Romania, UK, Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Portugal, Greece and Slovenia. Clinics are live in Romania, Netherlands and Greece.
  • Providing acupuncture and medical supplies to clinic teams in Europe and Tijuana, Mexico (where many refugees are waiting to enter the US).
  • Training European colleagues to work with trauma. To date, we have sponsored three online clinical trainings (NADA, Battlefield, and scalp acupuncture) for hundreds of European acupuncturists, and will be offering live trainings in Berlin and Athens in June.
  • Tracking where refugees are going in the US, and connecting with AWB trained practitioners who want to provide care in their communities.

AWB’s support for refugees in Europe, whether they be from Ukraine, the Middle East, or Africa, is a long-term organizational commitment. We will continue to post updates on our website as the work continues.

Dr. Tania Camacho treating badly injured refugees in Krakow, Poland, April 2022

Refugee clinic offered by AWB-Netherlands in Amsterdam, April 2022

March 22, 2022 

FIELD SERVICE

Romania: AWB Greece coordinator Eirini Tsilafaki spent the past week providing treatments for refugees, first responders and support volunteers in Siret, near the Ukrainian border. Over 500,000 Ukrainian refugees are in Romania at this time. This week she will join practitioners in Bucharest to help set up services at refugee centers in the capital. (photo: treatments for first responders in Siret, Romania refugee camp)

Poland: The influx of refugees into Poland (over 2,000,000 as of this week) has been huge and rapid. The city government of Krakow has essentially taken over the refugee support system and is requiring that all community organizations and NGOs be registered by the government (and approved) in order to provide services. The sites that our Polish colleagues were working in have been closed and refugees have been moved to larger facilities.

Our Polish TCM colleagues are in the process of registering with the government so that we can continue to provide treatments and send volunteers. We don’t know when this process will be complete and successful. We are on” pause” until we are approved. Additionally, we are facing the issue of educating the authorities about the value of TCM in this situation-that we can provide safe, simple, effective therapy to reduce pain, stress and trauma. This is not simple according to our Polish colleagues because TCM is not as common in Poland as other parts of Europe. It means educating the authorities in a chaotic crisis situation which is a huge task.

While we know that many practitioners are ready to go to Poland to help, AWB cannot send volunteers into an unstable service situation. There has to be an infrastructure that can receive volunteers so that we can provide care in a way that serves the people and keeps volunteers safe. Once we have established new clinic venues, we may ask for help from European and US volunteers. We hope to know more within the week.

Netherlands: Local acupuncturists have been quickly organizing Dutch volunteers and multiple sites for clinics throughout the country. They will be starting to treat refugees arriving there very soon!

Portugal, France, UK, Germany: AWB is starting to work with team leaders in these countries to establish local projects in the next weeks.

The US: Back in the US, AWB-trained acupuncturists are starting to organize in their communities as refugees are starting to arrive from Ukraine, others from Afghanistan.

Hotel in Romania that has been converted to a refugee shelter. Eirini Tsilafaki provided treatements to refugees and volunteers staying there. 

TRAINING & SUPPLIES UPDATES

  • AWB continues to provide training for European practitioners offering treatments in countries neighboring Ukraine, as well as countries where refugees are “landing” including Poland, Rumania, Netherlands, Portugal, Germany, Czech Republic, France & the UK.
  • Last Wednesday’s online NADA Protocol training was completely full. This Wednesday AWB will host presentations by Dr. Richard Niemtzow and Dr. Song Chuan Niemtzow on Battlefield Acupuncture and scalp acupuncture for traumatic stress. See our home page for recordings and links.
  • AWB will be offering in-person/online training for European practitioners in Berlin this June. This three-day training will be an opportunity for practitioners to gain in-depth training in trauma-informed care, clinical skills, and how to organize local trauma reduction projects. Learn more and register here.
  • We expect to offer more country-specific trainings and supplies for teams in the coming weeks.
  • We been sending supplies directly to practitioners in Ukraine who are doing acupuncture for pain, stress and trauma.

March 15, 2022 

FIELD SERVICE

  • AWB Greece goes to Romania – Ukraine border. On March 15th, AWB Greece Coordinator Eirini Tsilifaki is driving to the Romania – Ukraine border with a convoy of 60 Greek volunteers who will be bringing food and supplies to refugees in Siret. Romanian acupuncturists will be joining over the weekend to provide treatments.
  • The first AWB team will be in Krakow, Poland at the beginning of April working in multiple refugee centers  (there are currently 100,000 refugees now in this city of 800,000).  The second team will go mid April. We will be working with Polish and other European acupuncturists.
  • There is also a project forming in Gdansk. We will report more on this as the project solidifies.
  • Practitioners in Netherlands have also quickly organized with AWB’s help and will be offering services in multiple cities.

More US/European practitioners are needed to work in Poland, so please contact carla@acuwithoutborders.org if you can do a 10 day service trip!

TRAINING

  • AWB is offering an online training on how to work with stress, pain and trauma using the NADA protocol this Wednesday March 16th. This is free for European acupuncturists who will be treating refugees. The ETCMA (European TCM Association) is helping AWB reach as many practitioners as possible. You can join this training with this Zoom link (limited to first 100 people). A recording will be posted here on Thursday March 17th.
  • A second webinar on Battlefield Acupuncture and scalp acupuncture will be offered on Wednesday March 23rd at 7 PM Central European time. We are collaborating with Dr. Richard Niemtzow (creator of Battlefield Acupuncture) and Dr. Song Chuan Niemtzow to produce this free training.
  • We are offering a 3-day Healing Community Trauma training in Berlin (in person) June 3-5 for supporting practitioners who want to create ongoing support projects. Learn more here. 

Eirini Tsilifaki, AWB Greece coordinator, with volunteer Ukrainian translatros in Siret, Romania.

Treatments at refugee camp in Siret.

March 7, 2022 

Training and Supplying LOCAL Practitioners is Our Immediate Focus

  • We are sending basic supplies and online training resources to practitioners in Ukraine: Physicians who can do acupuncture, and other health practitioners who can do ear-seed treatments. (Only MDs are licensed to needle in Ukraine).
  • We are sharing training videos with acupuncturists and other health professionals in neighboring countries who are already mobilizing to provide treatments to refugees. Live webinar training will be available to acupuncturists in Europe beginning in mid-March. Videos include instruction on how to apply ear seeds to yourself and others (NADA), as well as other effective protocols to reduce pain, stress and trauma.
  • AWB is offering in-person training in late May and early June in Europe to prepare local acupuncturists for longer-term refugee support work in their communities.

Setting Up Field Services (Short and Long-Term):

Establishing field services where acupuncturists can provide services is a huge undertaking. It takes logistical planning, money, local partnerships, navigation of local regulations/laws, thoughtful outreach and so much more. We usually do not send volunteer teams to disaster/conflict zones unless there are no local acupuncturists OR the need is great, and our direct service support is clearly needed. In this case, both are true – there are acupuncturists in Ukraine and Eastern Europe AND this crisis is huge, so non-local practitioner support will eventually be needed.

We cannot currently work in Ukraine directly, which is why we are supporting the practitioners inside who can. Our next goal is to help mobilize and support LOCAL acupuncturists and health practitioners that live and work in the countries where refugees are going: Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, etc. They are licensed in their countries and can provide urgently needed front-line services in the short term. This is also the best way to partner with local refugee support organizations/NGOs for the longer term.

Right now:

  • We are working with our Polish colleagues to establish NGO partnerships and treatment venues in Poland, where the highest number of people are migrating.
  • AWB-Greece is providing direct service support starting March 15 along the Ukraine-Rumania border.
  • We are working with our colleagues in Germany, Austria, Netherlands and Czech Republic to set up refugee support clinics in their countries.
  • There will be direct service opportunities for international volunteers once we know where we can provide service in a relatively stable way, in partnership with smaller NGOs and community organizations.

Thank you to all who have donated and expressed desire to provide services. We will continue to need money for field operations and practitioner training, as well as organizing support! Look for another update next week!