Ximena's Dream - Healing at the Border
by Carla Cassler, DAOM, L.Ac.
co-Director, Acupuncturists Without Borders
Ximena is a midwife with a huge vision. She lives and works in Tijuana, Mexico, bringing natural healing to her community, which now includes over 10,000 people waiting to gain refuge in the Unites States. They come primarily from Central America, Africa, and the Caribbean, escaping violence, war, brutality, and extreme danger in their countries of origin. Many have received asylum case numbers from the US authorities, and now they wait. Most live in shelters throughout Tijuana in difficult conditions. Hope is present but feels less tangible as time goes on.
Ximena is the primary creator of the Espacio Migrante Clinic in Tijuana, sponsored by the Refugee Health Alliance (RHA), in response to the health needs of migrating people who began arriving at the border in autumn 2018. Since its inception, Espacio Clinic, with its sister clinic Prevencasa, has become the largest non-profit healthcare provider for migrants in Tijuana, except for the Mexican government. Espacio provides primary health care, pre-natal and post-natal care, traditional herbal medicine treatments, and acupuncture to over 350 patients every month. Volunteer health practitioners, including midwives, herbalists, and students staff the clinic. Before CoVid, additional providers volunteered every Saturday on mobile teams to serve families in shelters throughout the city.
Ximena’s dream is that the clinic be a truly integrated one, offering bio-medical services and traditional, culturally inclusive healing therapies. This is a grand vision because the clinic runs on donations, is staffed by volunteers, and serves people who are utterly marginalized with a myriad of survival needs. As a midwife, she maintains a strong focus on women and their children, doing pre-natal visits in Tijuana’s shelters, attending births, and training apprentices. She is very brave.
In January 2019, volunteers from Acupuncturists Without Borders began making service trips to Tijuana to offer Chinese Medicine services and acupuncture training to Ximena’s team of midwives. With generous herb donations from Mayway, the herbal pharmacy at Espacio is filled with Chinese herb formulas, essential oils, homeopathic remedies, locally prepared herbal tinctures, and botanicals indigenous to Mexico. Many routine health problems experienced by clinic patients are well treated with herbs, and are often their preferred treatment. Acupuncture and massage are especially appreciated because they reduce the significant physical and emotional pain problems faced by so many people that seek care at Espacio.
AWB made its fourth service trip to Espacio in February, right before CoVid shelter-in-place regulations went into effect. Luckily, we were able to complete a NADA ear acupuncture training for 10 midwives, who are now able to treat patients every day. A new birth center for migrant women has been created, and AWB continues to supply herbs, moxa, and telemedicine training for the midwifery team until we can resume service trips with greater safety. This week, Ximena just sent this message to AWB:
“Acupuncture is going on every day. Today I treated our clinic volunteers and we are thriving. Our 347 active patients are coming for herbs, acupuncture, prenatal care, and to have a relationship with someone in Tijuana. It is beautiful, what we are creating and the birth center is up and running too. Thank you-AWB is amazing and the Chinese herbs are so helpful for the birthing moms and the people in shelters with CoVid fevers. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”
AWB is able to support Ximena and the patients at Espacio because of partners like Mayway. Thank you Mayway for your amazing generosity and commitment to trauma healing! For more information about AWB and the Espacio Migrante Clinic, contact Carla Cassler at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To become a member of AWB or to support their effort, please visit their website.