Acupuncturists Without Borders 2023 Update

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As 2023 comes to an end and the new year begins, it seems difficult to find light in the midst of darkness. The world is still emerging from the Covid pandemic, natural disasters have accelerated, economic disparity has grown, more people are displaced from the places they call home, and new wars threaten the physical survival and emotional stability of millions.

It is easy to be overwhelmed by the magnitude of suffering and trauma facing so many people. And yet, Chinese Medicine teaches us that Yin and Yang exist together, hold each other, transform into one another, and so it goes with positive things that can arise out of incredibly horrible situations. After 18 years of working around the world with traumatized communities, AWB has learned that it matters more than ever to “show up” and do whatever we can, with the resources we have, to offer tools for community healing. No matter what, we continue to cultivate our optimism, that the world can be a better place for all people. This is light in the midst of darkness.

AWB giving ear treatments in tijuana

Here are some of the ways AWB showed up in 2023, with the help of many deeply committed volunteers, staff/board members, community partners, and donors.

In the United States, AWB provided:

  • Almost 2000 treatments for farmworkers in central CA as part of Colectivo CARE.
  • Over 1000 treatments in Florida for people displaced by Hurricane Ian.
  • Emergency practitioner training and mobile clinic support for Maui fire relief.
  • Mobile clinics in Puerto Rico for people who continue to be impacted by multiple hurricanes and earthquakes.
  • Ongoing community service clinics for refugees, houseless people, and veterans in cities like Washington, DC, Houston, and San Diego.
  • Support for local healing circles for people affected by the Israel-Gaza war.

Internationally, AWB provided:

  • Over 1000 acupuncture treatments and herbal medicine consultations for migrating families at the Justica en Salud Clinic in Tijuana, Mexico, as well as ongoing herb and reproductive health care training to our clinic partners, the Parteras midwives.
  • Monthly mobile clinics in several Haitian cities, despite extreme social violence, thanks to Louissaint Alcide, AWB Haiti Program coordinator for the past decade.
  • Thousands of trauma-informed care treatments in partnership with Alma (AWB Greece). Alma practitioners, including acupuncturists, massage therapists, herbalists, and homeopaths, have been trained by AWB and work in multiple sites in the Athens area that serve refugees from Africa, the Middle East, Afghanistan, and Ukraine.
  • Support for AWB volunteer teams throughout the Netherlands, who offered over 3000 treatments for refugees and newcomers in 2023.
  • Training for Polish practitioners who provide ongoing care for newcomers and displaced people from Ukraine. Although we do not send volunteer practitioners to Ukraine, AWB provides monthly supplies to acupuncturists treating wounded soldiers in Kyiv.
  • Training and clinical supplies for dozens of mental health practitioners in the West Bank, Palestine, so that they can better support their patients and communities.
  • Assistance to our Israeli, West Bank, and European Union colleagues, as they support people affected by the current war. This means providing supplies for healing circles, ongoing training via Zoom, and professional support for all practitioners, depending on their needs.

image shows different places where AWB has given acupuncture treatments including netherlands, watsonville, and palestine

In 2024, AWB will be focusing on new, effective ways of training practitioners in the US and internationally. In AWB’s “lifetime,” acupuncture and other integrative medicine therapies, as well as high-quality practitioner training, have spread to many countries. And yet, trauma-informed care training is still not part of most TCM or biomedical training curriculums. We know that AWB has much to offer in this educational arena!

We have also learned from our organizational experience during Covid. Before the pandemic, AWB offered in-person training in almost 10 communities annually. We converted to online trainings during Covid out of necessity, then reintroduced in-person courses last year without great success. We recognise that while nothing replaces in-person, hands-on training, it is also logistically challenging and expensive for many practitioners to attend. And so we plan to adapt and pivot again by developing LIVE STREAMED online CEU courses and webinars that will combine interactive group learning opportunities with affordability and attendance ease for participants. AWB will continue to coordinate and support ongoing projects as described above, with an expanded focus on training and mentoring local practitioners to set up trauma-informed care projects in their own communities.

Some acupuncturists and health care professionals might think that AWB has abundant resources, equivalent to those of large NGOs such as Doctors Without Borders or the Red Cross. In fact, AWB has a staff of four part-time employees and a relatively small Board of Directors. Like many small nonprofits, AWB strives to “show up” as one of the few service organizations in our profession. Despite AWB’s limited resources, we are proud of almost two decades of healing work that has brought trauma-informed care to millions of people and training to over 8,000 healthcare practitioners worldwide. We are deeply grateful to the AWB volunteer practitioners that provide services in their local communities, to our community and institutional partners, to AWB members, and to committed donors who have helped sustain AWB through the years. The need for trauma-informed care on our planet is greater than ever. Please support AWB financially by becoming an AWB member, taking an AWB training course, or donating to AWB’s work directly - all of which help us continue to “show up!”

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