Experience at Grenfell

My Experience at Grenfell

Sarah Clifford, one of the volunteers who offers acupuncture to victims and families of the Grenfell Tower fire, reflects on her experience using the NADA Protocol:

 

The community atmosphere is heartwarming.  Living far from London I am only able to get to the centre once a month; however, after each session I come away feeling like one of the community. It is great to be able to offer help to a group so willing to receive it.

Being a non-verbal therapy, the NADA protocol allows the client and therapist the space to communicate in different ways. Often this leads to a profound level of communication, as without words I have found a common ground is always reached. This allows for a deeper treatment.

With the intention of creating a quiet yin atmosphere in the room, it’s always a miracle to me to witness the clients experiencing true relaxation.  To me this is what makes the NADA protocol so unique.  It allows a deep ability to experience relaxation, which in turn results in physical and mental healing.

I come away feeling inspired and energised at the same time.

To me, NADA is a true gift that needs to be spread to different communities, both at work and at home.  To be able to work in a relaxed way when there are so many pressures in life, is a challenge for everyone. I feel hopeful however that whoever comes to these sessions may leave feeling  brighter, lighter and more at peace.

Chatting About Chaparda

During the October training weekend for Chaparda 2020 four current and former volunteers members of the team, Emma, Alison, Jude and Barbara (behind the camera!) met to talk about the experience of working in Chaparda over the years, and what new volunteers can expect from the experience.

It's just over 8 minutes in length and very informative, so grab a cup of tea, click the video, and listen in!

World Medicine and the Chinese Medicine Forestry Trust

A Guest Blog by Peter Deadman, Director of the Chinese Medicine Forestry Trust, with an Introduction by Emma Vaughan on behalf of the Trustees of World Medicine:

It is impossible not to be deeply moved by the distress our planet is in. Climate change is affecting us all and we should and must be alarmed. 

As trustees at World Medicine, we have looked at our own position as a charity and the impact on the environment that our projects may have. Our sincere wish to minimise this impact is measured against what we genuinely believe to be a very positive experience on a human level for disadvantaged communities that would not have access within their own country to the skills and resources that we bring. Often we treat people whose complex health issues have prevented them from working. This can have a profoundly challenging influence on their wider family and so we will continue to bring relief where we can, and nurture our projects in the areas of the world where we recognise health choices are lacking and deprivation is endemic. 

Recently a group of acupuncture practitioners set up the Chinese Medicine Forestry Trust, a charity aimed at encouraging investment in global reforestation projects.

It is our intention to support this trust by donating a monetary sum to help redress the impact of our carbon footprint, collectively accumulated on our travel to and from our projects.

Peter Deadman, who will be a familiar name to many of us in the Chinese Medicine community is a trustee for this project and it is our great privilege to have him contribute to this blog:

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I have long been inspired by the ancient Chinese Daoist philosophy which places humans at the heart of the natural world. It teaches us that we are neither superior nor inferior but seamlessly integrated with all phenomena – living or not. Nature is a place of belonging and being in nature is a rich source of health and wellbeing.

Hiking in forests, hills or mountains; gazing on valleys, green meadows, winding rivers and snow-capped peaks; strolling though city parks as springtime trees unfurl with new life; kicking through piles of autumn leaves; digging our hands into rich earth to plant seeds and bulbs; watching the sea in all its moods and colours – we allow the forms, smells and sounds of nature to fill our senses. These are not the linear and conscious designs of the city (however wonderful they may be), but an infinitely varied and complex environment that has designed itself according to natural laws. And we, of course are part of it all, and until very recently in our evolutionary history lived fully immersed in it. It is no surprise, then, to find that we benefit – physically, emotionally, mentally and socially – from our connection with nature, and that we suffer when we destroy it.

There is ample evidence that walking in nature – especially in forests (the Japanese call it ‘forest bathing’) – lowers stress hormones and blood pressure and increases wellbeing. Living close to trees or within sight of green spaces reduces rates of physical and mental  disease and even results in reduced aggression and lower crime rates.

But the sad truth is that we are now destroying our beautiful natural world at an ever-increasing pace. Forests are burning, and climate change, agricultural and development policies and consumerist lifestyles are inflicting what is known as the ‘sixth wave of extinction’, with up to 100,000 plant and animal species disappearing every year.  The Center for Biological Diversity describes it as the worst spate of species die-offs since the loss of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. This is not just a tragedy in its own right, but a cause of real alarm for all of us. Collapse of the marine and soil environment, rapid insect and species extinction, and climate chaos are having what The Lancet medical journal calls “very serious and potentially catastrophic effects for human health and human survival”.

Those of us who love nature, who understand how we are inseparably linked to the natural world, and who want to preserve its wonders for future generations, are being called on to speak out and to act in every way we can to protect and preserve this beautiful planet and all the life that inhabits it.

We can do this in multiple ways. We can change our personal lifestyles, trying to consume less, fly less, eat organically grown food wherever possible and so on. We can do it by supporting organisations and politicians that put the environment at the heart of their policies. And we can do it by taking the simple step of planting trees.

Trees are wonderful creatures. They absorb and sequester carbon, give forth oxygen, provide food and a home for thousands of species, anchor the soil, counter flooding and make us happy. There is growing evidence that they also communicate with and protect each other and support their young.

That is why – with colleagues – I have set up the Chinese Medicine Forestry Trust to plant trees and protect forests. We are asking everyone involved with Chinese medicine – practitioners, patients, students, professional organisations, schools and businesses to donate (preferably with a regular monthly donation). All the money we receive goes straight to three organisations – The World Land Trust, Tree Nation and the Woodland Trust. All of them sensitively plant and protect suitable tree species using local labour, rather than the great sterile, monoculture plantations that many carbon offset companies are responsible for planting.

And since planting and protecting one tree can cost as little as a single dollar, a regular monthly donation of a few pounds means you can go to bed every night in the knowledge that you are personally helping to plant dozens of beautiful life-giving trees every year.

Peter Deadman (peterdeadman.co.uk)

NADA Acupuncture at Al Manaar Mosque post Grenfell

To coincide with publication of the first phase of the report into the Grenfell Tower fire, Rachel Peckham, director of the World Medicine project there, reflects on the the work carried out with survivors.

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NADA Acupuncture at Al Manaar Mosque post Grenfell

The unimaginable event that was the Grenfell Tower block fire happened last year on June 14th. Nearly 80 people are known to have lost their lives. It was and remains horrific. Nearly a year later, the block stands as a crime scene only partially covered by scaffolding and white sheeting. Mental health experts say the haunting image of Grenfell against the skyline is affecting both survivors and the community. Latest reports say that 11,000 people in the surrounding areas as well as survivors will experience mental health problems as a result of this terrible tragedy.

The huge volume of help that arrived literally from the next day onwards was extraordinary and wonderful. I live and work five miles from the area and have patients and NADA contacts who were involved with that very early support. They would report how the distress was unbearable and that the chaos was very difficult to deal with. Understandably there was and is a lot of anger.

Dr Michael Smith MD DAc (1942 – 2017) was the director of the Lincoln Recovery Centre in the South Bronx, New York, and he is the founder of the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association – most commonly know as NADA. Dr Smith used the acronym NADA because it means nothing in Spanish. The NADA protocol is a simple Taoist-based concept of acting without acting. Taoist philosophy suggests that the name NADA is important, because, as Dr Smith has told us, in treating people we do a lot, maybe even too much, and we can forget that the rest of life is out there. Until you get out of things, you can get trapped by your own mind. NADA has to be simple because everything else is so complicated.

And the fire at Grenfell Tower falls most unfortunately into these latter categories. I was in admiration of the acupuncturists who were there at this time, treating and helping all who were affected – and managing to do this on the streets amidst all the chaos. At this point I was thinking of the work that had been done by NADA US following the Twin Towers attack 9/11. A NADA clinic was started two weeks subsequently at St Vincent’s Hospital in Manhattan, close to Ground Zero. I’ve been showing a short film to NADA trainees every time I run a NADA training about the St Vincent’s clinic, plus other trauma settings where NADA has been offered. The film, Unimagined Bridges, demonstrates the power of NADA acupuncture in helping to cope with trauma following a catastrophic event. This clinic ran regularly until 2010 and was open to anyone affected by the event. It showed that people chose to have acupuncture rather than counseling as they didn’t want to talk about the trauma. Reports showed that the acupuncture helped with sleep, anxiety, grief and generally enabling people to feel a sense of calm. Plus it brought communities together as people sat quietly in a group all having acupuncture treatment for a common cause.

I began to have telephone conversations with Alison Gould chairperson of World Medicine Charitable Trust, and we spoke about the possibility of a collaboration between NADA GB and World Medicine (WM) to set up a volunteer service delivering NADA treatments. I also spoke to Gisela Norman and later on Sheira Kahn who were among the first responders of acupuncture and did such a remarkable job in terrible conditions. They went on to head up Emergency Acupuncture, a large body of volunteers which preceded the NADA clinics we began delivering four months after the fire.

Emergency Acupuncture had established a venue at the Al Manaar Mosque in North Kensington and had been given a room for delivering acupuncture treatments. The mosque wanted to continue the service as they had seen the benefits acupuncture treatment was bringing to the survivors and to the Grenfell community. This was clearly something NADA could offer, so early in August last year Gisela set up a meeting with myself and Mr Sayed, CEO at the Mosque. We agreed to start a weekly NADA clinic there and committed to run clinics for a year provided the service was taken up. The clinics started on 3rd October and have been running weekly on Tuesday mornings ever since.

Later in August, World Medicine held a NADA training day for BAcC members who wished to volunteer at the then future NADA clinic at Al Manaar Mosque. I ran the training which was free of charge. All the World Medicine trustees at that time were there plus eight attendees, a few of whom had already volunteered at Grenfell under the auspices of Emergency Acupuncture.

Read More…

Fundraising – How We Use What You Give Us

This month, Barbara, Catherine and Emma (supported by Dave, Barbara’s husband!!) all part of Chaparda 2020 team, head to Edinburgh to take on The Big Stroll a 15 mile walk through historic Edinburgh.

We have been very committed to fundraising through 2019 and this will be the third walk by various combinations of the team to raise money for World Medicine. ALL funds raised for World Medicine are used to support our projects and apart from a small amount of administrative running costs we have no fixed overheads that require donated money to be used for.

We have two projects at the moment. One in London, providing auricular acupuncture for the community impacted by the Grenfell disaster – a lot of this work focuses on post traumatic stress. (For further reading on this condition and how acupuncture can help go to acupuncture.org.uk) Costs for this project include, auricular needles, sharp boxes, insurance and training etc. Annual costs at present stand at around £1000 annually.

Our second project is in India, and January 2020 will see a team of acupuncturists and interpreters travel to Chaparda to run an acupuncture clinic for 3 weeks. One of the reasons that we remain committed to this work is because over the years we have witnessed incredible healing in our Indian patients, that in turn has allowed them to continue working and supporting their own families. This is key to our work, bringing effective treatment to areas where healthcare resources are limited. Each year the numbers attending our clinics continue to grow and the impact of our work continues to spread out into the surrounding communities.

Travel is the biggest cost to the volunteers and stands around £700 per person.

We have estimated each acupuncturist will need 5000 needles each for our next project so, a total of 30,000 needles. A box of 1000 needles costs approximately £24. This year our needles will cost us around £720. In addition many of us will use moxabustion therapy and so we may spend a further £100 on moxa. Other equipment includes, sharps boxes, forceps, cupping sets, alcohol wipes, cotton wool, hand sanitizer, paper for documentation etc. Another cost is insurance and training.

This year we plan to offset our carbon footprint as a charity by donating the carbon cost of our travel into an environmental project as local to our project as we can manage. (Look out for future blogs with further information about this!)

We very much hope that our supporters understand just how much we appreciate their willingness to help us raise money. We are passionate about our work and we know that many, many people, who will never be able to voice their gratitude personally, are similarly appreciative for the opportunity to benefit from the service that World Medicine offers.

Spotlight on World Medicine Translators

Emma Vaughan, one of our Trustees and a volunteer in Chaparda, reflects on working with translators:

Our work in India would not be possible without the skill, dedication and patience of our amazing translators. They form an integral part of the team and enable communication between patients and practitioners in a highly skilled and sensitive manner.

We ask them to offer literal translations rather than summarising conversations in order for our practitioners to develop a greater sense of what is really going on, and, most importantly so that they can identify what the patients’ needs are. This unique 3-way rapport can provide surprisingly rich, moving and sometimes humorous encounters.

Our current Gujarat speaking team of volunteer translators are fabulous, bringing a sense of compassion and integrity to their work that has been invaluable. They come with a great deal of goodwill, committing a lot of time at their own expense and have maintained strong, personal investment in the work of World Medicine.

Batul and Najma are two of our volunteer translators:

Batul describes her experience:

I thoroughly enjoy being a translator and part of the World Medicine team. It is a very rewarding experience and one that has seen me about to return for my third time in January 2020.

It feels good to be part of a project where you can witness on a daily basis the positive impact on patients’ lives.

On our last trip, Barbara and I saw a young man, a diamond polisher who attended the clinic with multiple problems that had resulted in very poor mobility. His medical history was complex resulting in many visits to hospitals, different specialists and complementary therapists. He was feeling desperate and was doing everything he could do help himself – including walking on cow dung! Over his course of acupuncture with Barbara, we observed gradual improvements in his mobility and more importantly he himself started to feel the change. It was fantastic to see, and also to be part of a process that brings positive changes to people’s lives. I definitely appreciate the contribution the whole team make to the people living around Chaparda who have no access to this type of health care. To provide the service at no cost to the patients is even more amazing!

Najma, another seasoned translator and also a trustee for World Medicine reflects on the collaboration of the team:

I see my role of translator as a bridge between patients and practitioners. By feeding back to the practitioner the content of the patients’ story and what had bought them to the clinic we are able to begin a course of treatment, tailored to the patient’s problems and subsequent progress.

There have been times when it feels emotionally challenging, relaying these personal stories to the practitioner as often their issues reflect the harsh reality of living in isolated, rural communities. However, there are often lighter, funny and touching moments too. I was once very impressed when a patient very eloquently asked me “if the “doctor” could reduce the tyre around her waist!”….a familiar wish that many of us are conscious of these days!

It is easy for these nuances to be lost in translation but I believe that the team works effectively and efficiently so that every patients experience with World Medicine is a positive and worthwhile one. 

Of all the work I have done in my life, I can honestly say that my work as a translator in this setting has been both the most rewarding and the most enjoyable. 

Although our current projects are based in the UK and India, we are keen to build a database of volunteers who speak a second or indeed several languages who may like to consider working with us in the future.

Please get in touch if you are interested in working with us! We absolutely need you!

Reflecting On My Volunteering Experience

Sally Connelly; new graduate volunteer

When I initially applied to be considered to join World Medicine on their 2019 trip, I had not yet graduated, nor ever been to India, so both of these possibilities seemed somewhat abstract and very far off events! By the time I set off for Gujurat, I had been in my own practice for just 6 months and was treating an average of 10-15 patients each week, sometimes less, sometimes more.

World medicine occupied two wards within Jayambe Hospital in Chaparda, creating a men’s clinic and a women’s clinic. I was working within the women’s clinic. On my first day, as I turned the corner towards our allocated wards, I was greeted with a long queue of patients who were waiting for treatment with us. Some had been sleeping on the cold floor all night in order to be seen. Many had traveled from far off villages, setting off from home in the early hours.

I was eased in gently to the work and only expected to start treating when I felt ready, but I was really keen to get started and on my first day I treated 11 patients. There was a real sense of being new again, and I was taken back to my first day in student clinic when I suddenly felt like everything I ever thought I knew had abandoned me. Like a rabbit in the headlights, I felt as though I knew nothing.  But, and this is one of the many valuable lessons I learned during my time in Chaparda, I did! The knowledge was there, I just had to trust myself and dive in.

I kept my treatment plans simple and treated what I saw, I wasn’t too adventurous with my point choices to begin with.  With the help of the incredible translators I was able to establish their primary concern and take it from there. The primary issues people sought help for were very often musculoskeletal and each patient was asked to commit to at least 3 sessions.

By the end of the first week I was giving around 25 treatments a day, and had built a rapport with the returning patients. As a new practitioner it was really exciting and rewarding to see the improvements and changes in returning patients, and to witness how transformative intensive treatment can be. Many of the locals who sought treatment earned their livelihoods through physically demanding work, so enabling them to continue this with less pain and hindrance was a privilege. The days were long and tiring, but always ended with a delicious chai tea, incredible food and good humour.

My time volunteering with World Medicine so early on in my professional career has been an absolute gift. The intensity of work allowed me to cement my newly acquired abilities, to trust my instinct and to hone my diagnostic skills. I have made lifelong friends and mentors, whose depth of knowledge and experience has been shared with generosity and humility. I have seen first hand what an incredibly effective and adaptable form of medicine acupuncture can be, and have returned to my own practice with a renewed sense of confidence and purpose.

My Trip to India with World Medicine

My Trip to India with World Medicine – Gary Carvill

World Medicine is a charity which provides acupuncture around the world to people suffering the effects of trauma, disaster and poverty.  I was delighted when I received their email informing me that I had been selected to be part of their 2019 project in Gujurat, India.

However, the trustees from the charity had not held back during the interview I attended in describing some of the challenges I was likely to face and so there was also some apprehension and wondering what I was letting myself in for.

In January 2019 I touched down in Rajkot, Gujurat and walked out of the airport to meet the other acupuncturists and translators I would be working with for the next two weeks in a hospital in the rural area of Chaparda.

After a three hour drive we arrived at the ashram that would be our home.  In true India style, each bathroom had a selection of buckets that could be used for a ‘bucket shower’ if you were unlucky enough to be in one of the rooms where the shower didn’t work.  Fortunately, mine did!

The next day was spent preparing the clinics at the hospital we would be working from.  It was only a ten minute walk from the ashram and reminded me immediately of the ‘Good Karma Hospital’ for those who are familiar with the TV show.  A row of ambulances outside the main entrance, nowhere near as sophisticated as those we’re used to seeing in the UK, were parked alongside dozens of pairs of shoes removed by the staff and patients before entering the building.

There were two clinics, one for men and one for women, with about twelve beds in each.  Three acupuncturists would be working in each clinic alongside the translators and some local physiotherapy students who helped with massage, cupping and removal of needles.

The next day the clinic opened.  It was clear that the demand was going to be huge.  An advertising campaign including TV coverage before our arrival meant some people had travelled 200 miles for a chance to have treatment.  Some people slept in the hospital from 10pm the night before to ensure they were at the front of the queue.  At one point we were told ten people were being turned away for every person being treated so there was pressure on us to treat as many people as possible.  On the second day of clinic I started to take my own patients and managed to treat 19.  The next day 27 and the next day 38.

During the visit we managed to treat 379 patients and provide 1214 treatments.  At times it did feel relentless however it also felt a great privilege.  The people of Gujurat are some of the warmest and friendliest people I’ve ever met that showed a humility and gratitude that was incredibly touching.  The role of the translators was crucial in being able to communicate however with a few quickly learned phrases in Gujurati it seemed very easy to build rapport and connect with the patients.  Some of their stories were heartbreaking and sadly a few needed more than acupuncture or massage can provide, however many showed great improvements and continued to attend the clinic regularly for the duration of our visit.

One example was Mahesh.  A diamond polisher who works long hours in the local ‘diamond factory’ but who without any parents was responsible for looking after his younger brother and sister as well as his elderly uncle.  Mahesh had pain in most of his body particularly in his legs and lower back.  Typical of many of the patients we saw Mahesh held his body rigid with tensed muscles even while laid on the bed.  Telling him to ‘relax’ made no difference as if the concept was alien to him.  During our visit Mahesh had five treatments including acupuncture, electro acupuncture, massage and use of a heat lamp.  Gradually his muscles began to relax and his pain to diminish.  Since returning to the UK Mahesh sent me an email to tell me that ‘my pain is gone’.

The fortnight seemed to whizz past in a bit of a blur and it was soon time to wind down the clinic and return home.  The whole experience was both exhausting and fascinating and one that I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to be part of.

For any acupuncturist or acupuncture student who relishes a challenge and enjoys being part of a team, volunteering for World Medicine is a fantastic opportunity.