Soooo an acupuncturist, physical therapist, and I walk into a bar…
Okay, admittedly it would make a strange joke, but this odd collection of people with specialized skills are exactly who have been helping bring relief to the vulnerable groups we’re working with lately.
I’m often contacted by people who want to know more about what we do and give their time helping out. Because that also comes with it’s own set of headaches, I’ve been adjusting our volunteer page to instead reflect a wish list of skilled personnel who would be best equipped to make a difference in our tiny project.
I emphasize food and play’s role in the rehabilitation of people suffering from trauma and torture, but they are also key avenues into people’s lives, needed to begin addressing more complicated issues. For example, in one household I visit often, it’s not uncommon to catch me hanging out to teach and play with the kids while their parents are receiving acupuncture to treat chronic pain.
“I was having such intense stomach pains that I become anxious just thinking how I could afford to have the doctor to do surgery. Although, after a few weeks of meeting the therapist, I’m already back to eating normally and worrying less.”
The results of the acupuncture have been great and have mostly surfaced in small and unexpected ways. I’m starting to see people who suffered in silence for years, learn to open up about their pain in small ways. Just the presence of the therapist has created a forum for people to discuss their health, asking questions and revealing concerns never confided in me.
When one woman, who is terribly problematic for me to communicate with, shared she had hearing problems hearing, I went, “Aaaaaahhhhhh,” audibly. Now the communication problems made some sense. There isn’t just a language barrier, there’s an ear barrier too!
Another volunteer has been working with Chua, a little girl with down-syndrome. For nearly two years we supported her family who had difficulty paying rent and feeding Chua and her five siblings. Now not only is her family no longer living in a slum, but the older children are in school for the first time this year, and Chua began spending time with our volunteer physical therapist recently. The weekly interaction to evaluate and improve her motor skills is already going better than anyone expected.
There’s more too —a chef, someone who speaks French, another who speaks Hmong, and a long term volunteer who’s a certified psychotherapist —these are just a few examples of people making a difference!