When hearing about natural disasters, traumatic events, and the ensuing community and personal suffering, I have often asked myself, “How could I, as an acupuncturist, help?” Acupuncturists Without Borders (AWB) has been answering that question. The nonprofit organization began in 2005 in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Volunteers for AWB provided free community acupuncture treatments for hurricane survivors, first responders, emergency personnel, and other volunteers. Around 8,000 people were treated and the feedback AWB received was “tremendously positive”.
Since that time, AWB has helped to provide acupuncture treatments in community clinics around the US in the aftermath of other natural disasters, including the Boulder, CO wildfires, and traumatic events, including the recent shootings in Orlando, FL. Expanding beyond the US, AWB has also served or is currently serving communities in Haiti, Nepal, Ecuador, Mongolia, New Zealand, and Greece, and has affiliated programs in Israel and India.
In 2006, AWB also began the Military Stress Recovery Project in order to provide acupuncture services to veterans, active duty military personal, and their family members. They also have a Community Service Clinic Program, which helps to establish and support community clinics serving individuals in need of services.
The treatments are generally provided community style where individuals are seated in chairs and receive ear acupuncture. The treatments are low-cost, simple but effective, and allow for a few practitioners to treat several individuals at one time. The treatments address the effects of stress and trauma, helping promote relaxation and a balancing of the nervous system.
I had the privilege to volunteer for and participate in an AWB training this past weekend in Seattle, WA. I was deeply impressed by the passion and dedication of the trainers, the compassion of my fellow colleagues at the training, and AWB’s extensive service record. For more information about AWB and/or how you can support their services, please check out their website, www.acuwithoutborders.org.
In my next blog post, I will provide a more in-depth description of ear acupuncture – stay tuned!
(The photos in this post were used with permission from AWB)