UPDATE: Thanks to our generous donors, we have been able to make four trip up to now, offering free health care to 12,000 impoverished Haitians. We are planing to return in the spring of 2013 and are presently considering how to make the clinic a permanent institution with the help of Acupuncture Ambassadors.
Our work has only begun
There are so many other earthquake victims who need our help. Our immediate plan is to raise $300/month (USD) for Oliama, the Haitian bone-setter and herbalist, to run a free clinic from his house in the slums. We are also exploring the idea of returning to Haiti to repeat what we did in March and run a full-scale naturopathic clinic.
An idea is born
While running the clinic, we had a definite learning curve. We realized that while what we were giving to people was very effective, we would soon run out of supplies and leave, and the patients would not be able to find a refill. While we were there, many patients returned asking for refills. The essential oils and homeopathics we provided were so effective in fighting disease that our patients were desperate for more. As we ran out of our supplies, we started to give out more and more local herbal recipes for treating anemia, high and low blood pressure, stomach acidity, and worms. We counseled people to eat raw garlic as an antibiotic and chew cloves against toothaches. Slowly, a vision of an ongoing naturopathic relief clinic dawned.
Oliama, the local herbalist, bone-setter and midwife on our team is a highly qualified healer. Trained in the Afro-Haitian tradition handed down to him and his siblings by his parents and ancestral line, he knows all local medicinal plants, constitutional herbal prescribing, and is truly versatile thanks to his diverse training. A devout Christian and Man of God, we were thankful for his integrity, as well as the fact that he understood our efforts of bringing free healing to the destitute. He has long served his community as a midwife, delivering babies for free to the women of his neighborhood, who cannot afford a hospital childbirth or pre- and post-natal care.
Before the earthquake Oliama was already struggling to feed his nine children, laboring as a construction worker, and since the disaster he has been out of work. Before that, he used to work for the Haitian Doctor’s Association, but he stopped working there because the medical doctors exploited his skills, underpaying and disrespecting him as a black Haitian folk healer.
After he began working with us, many Haitians discovered the value of his work and set up future paying sessions. When the locals realized how much we respected and recommended his work, they began to see him in a new light and appreciate him much more. We also pointed out to people when we thought that their injuries needed more than one bone-setting treatment.
We raised funds to help Oliama run a full-time clinic from his home in the slum of Petionville for several months. Services were free of charge for poor clients, and clients who can afford it would be asked for payment or co-payment. The emphasis was on care for pregnant women and providing them with a free delivery.
The goals of the clinic are to:
- Provide free natural health care to thousands of poor people in Port-au-Prince
- Generate local employment
- Feed one large poor family
- Increase the respect of local people for their own healing tradition and knowledge
- Include educational classes on herbal healing and preventive health
- Serve as the base for future volunteers from the West to come and help
- Enhance local self-sufficiency, rather than dependence
Since our second trip, we have also employed a lady healer from Petionville slum, forever-smiling Nelia. She is also a midwife, herbalist and bone-setter. She lost her job after the earthquake, and her skills as a healer were of great value to the community.