A Haitian monk brings home the gift of healing

Venerable Thupten Jinpa, a Haitian-born Tibetan Buddhist monk, was in meditation retreat in France on January 12, 2010, when his caretakers interrupted him with news of the terrible earthquake that devastated his native country.

Ven. Jinpa's first priority was to contact his father and make sure he was all right. This phone call, though heartbreaking, was the first step in an incredible journey of compassion, love and service.

A Haitian monk brings home the gift of healing

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Venerable Thupten Jinpa, a Haitian-born Tibetan Buddhist monk, was in meditation retreat in France when he received the message that his country had fallen to pieces due to the earthquake of January 12, 2010. He slowly found out that his elderly father and other relatives had survived, but phone service to Haiti was unavailable from France.

Three weeks after the earthquake, he finally talked to his father on the phone. Although the 85-year-old man said he was fine, he sounded spaced out and depressed. When Jinpa pressed him to tell him what was really going on with him he confessed:

"I just want to leave the country. It is too hard for me to sleep outside. I do not even have a tent, and the nights are cold. I don't want to complain, because I do not want to be a burden to you. But I am terrified of a new quake, and cannot make myself go under any roof.

"I am so frightened. When the earthquake happened, I was in the shower. I tried to run out, but the shock waves hurled me from one side of the corridor walls to the other, and the doors were opening against me so I could not run out. The front door hit me in my shoulder and I cannot move it since. I also have a backache now and have a tough time walking. Please come to get me out of here!"

So Jinpa decided to fly to Haiti to bring his father to the US with him. He mentioned to a friend how much he would like to spend his time in Haiti helping people while waiting for his father's papers to clear. Julia, an herbalist and naturopath, responded by launching a fund-raising effort for what would become the Naturopathic Relief Clinic for Earthquake Victims. The response was incredible, and thus the project born.

While the clinic is a huge success, Jinpa's father has not yet been allowed to leave the country. At least we treated him for his shock and his injuries and diarrhea, and the mere fact that people came to try and rescue him pulled him out of his depression for a while.

Winter update

We are pleased to announce that since Hurricane Matthew, the clinic has treated more than 1,800 people for free.

The marketplace in Petionville, Port-au-Prince, was set on fire by the losing political parties, forcing us to temporarily discontinue our mobile clinic in the Petionville ghetto.

Before giving you more clinic updates, allow us to explain a bit about the political situation in Haiti. The island has been without proper government for more than a year, because the election results were said to be fraudulent. So after a full year of political chaos and street riots, Haiti finally voted two weeks ago, the results having been proclaimed last week. Jovenel Moïse who won one year ago won again with a strong majority of 56%.

His political opponents had already called to riots before the election results were published, and those riots continue right now. They are expected to last through mid-January, when Mr. Moïse finally gets sworn in. He succeeds the former president, first in a long time to neither be corrupt nor hold on to power, and is seen as a man of the people. We think this is why his opponents-generally corrupt-caused such an uproar about his election.

In general, the clinic has been open almost every day, though it was closed more than we would have liked through these turbulent times. Jinpa's assessment of the situation is that "it's so cheap in Haiti to pay a few people to start a riot in your favor." Everyone is hungry and out of work. So why not get paid to help cause a riot?

Michelle preparing thousands of Arnica capsules to be sent; Julia labeling bottles in Créole.

In the meantime, many donations of medicine have arrived in New York and France. We already have sent some and are preparing the rest to be shipped. Thank you for all the wonderful contributions!

Making the clinic permanent

Jinpa receiving a box of essential oil donations to ship.

As for the clinic, our team of three women will be able to continue working for the weeks to come. Keelan, a male nurse from Canada will join them for two weeks in mid-January. Camio, Marie-Lucie, and Nelia have now experienced the joy of saving lives and are very dedicated to the task. They all know aromatherapy very well, and we have given them some Skype classes on homeopathy to advance their skills—a real challenge with ever-failing electricity and phone lines.

More supplies are in the mail as the clinic has run out of essential oils. This is a good exercise for the team to find a homeopathic remedy for the same condition they usually treat with essential oils. For instance, we helped them work out that Pulsatilla and Aconite work well for the kind of palpitations in the highly stressed poor women fighting to make a few pennies to keep their children alive. (I can't say "fed", because that sounds like full meals.) They also report great success treating head colds, pain, etc.

The team at Woodland Essence not only sent fabulous herbs and herbal salves, but also toys for the children.

What is most remarkable is that people say again and again that the natural treatments not only eliminate their symptoms, but actually strengthens them so that they do not relapse for several months afterwards. This goes from colds and flu to worms and vaginal infections. We are thrilled by this confirmation that natural remedies strengthen our life force rather than weakening it.

Administering homeopathic cina for worms in water.

Our goal is to keep the clinic running two days a week, always at the same time, so people know when it is open and can travel there to get treatment. We are also hoping to revive the mobile clinic, once the streets are safe enough for the team to go into other parts of town.

It is really a gift of hope

While the clinic has a very good track record of healing, what is almost more important is that it offers a beacon hope. It breaks our hearts to receive the photos and see the hopelessness written all over people's faces, and to see how skinny and hungry people look.

The photo on the left betrays that, in order for the parents be able to afford sending their children to school, they have to starve them. The photo on the right shows people waiting in line to be seen at the Petionville clinic (inside a church).

People often ask us, “Why does this always happen in Haiti?” The simple answer is that Haiti is quite capable of sustaining itself, but repeated foreign invasions have broken down that ability (such as France, Germany, and the United States repeatedly stealing Haiti's gold reserves by force).

Children come to the clinic after school.

Furthermore, Haiti is in the main path of hurricanes, and with climate change the storms are now more frequent and more severe. The island is also situated on a major fault line running all the way to Mexico, so earthquakes are to be expected. But because it's such a poor country, everything is built with inferior construction materials, which makes buildings in Haiti more vulnerable to earthquakes and hurricane winds than buildings in richer countries.

Lastly, Haiti used to be able to sustain itself with its own agricultural production, but foreign aid has changed the market in a way that makes it impossible for local farmers to compete, leaving them impoverished. Food from industrial agriculture made in USA has flooded the market, pushing out local goods such as rice and lemons. See "The Curse of Charity in Haiti" for more about this problem.

Once again, thank you to all our donors! Learn more about how you can help us bring the gift of healing to this beautiful country.

Camio making an essential oil blend—we ask patients who live nearby to bring a bottle with a little vegetable oil for their blends. Right: It takes some explaining for people to understand how the tiny homeopathic granules can be powerful enough to heal.