Keep Calm and Carry On!

Last week, Sacred Valley Health welcomed the group Healer2Healer to Ollantaytambo. Healer2Healer is US-based non-profit that provides “international cultural exchange and service learning in rural indigenous communities for acupuncturists, reiki practitioners, and students.” H2H ran a series of clinics providing acupuncture, massage and reiki in the communities we serve, and they also shared their skills with our promotoras (community health workers).  Acupuncture is a form of Chinese medicine that involves using needles to clear energy channels in the body. Reiki is a form of therapy that uses a combination of hands-on, no-touch, and visualization techniques to improve energy flow. It provides many of the same benefits as traditional massage, such as reducing stress, stimulating the immune system, increasing energy, and relieving pain. While SVH has hosted many medical groups in the past, Healer2Healer is the first group to provide services of this nature and we were all very interested to see the community’s response.

SVH staff engaged Healer2Healer in several fun exercises the day before the clinic to help prepare them for cultural differences.
SVH staff engaged Healer2Healer in several fun exercises the day before the clinic to help prepare them for cultural differences.

H2H participants and SVH staff spent Wednesday afternoon developing a strategy for running the clinic and finalizing the objectives for the week. On Thursday morning, we set up treatment stations and a comfortable waiting area in the SVH office, and patients began to arrive. They first stopped at an intake table, where Anthony (one of the most experienced massage and acupuncture practitioners) reviewed their medical complaints and crafted treatment plans. SVH staff helped with translation and assigned one staff member to each patient in order to ensure clarity and continuity during treatment. Patients could choose reiki, acupuncture, and/or massage depending on their symptoms and level of comfort with these novel treatments.

SVH nurse Leticia tries out a treatment called “cupping,” in which air is suctioned out of glass cups placed on the skin to stimulate energy flow.
SVH nurse Leticia tries out a treatment called “cupping,” in which air is suctioned out of glass cups placed on the skin to stimulate energy flow.

Thursday began slowly, as Ollantaytambo residents trickled into the office. Pampallacta promotoras Escolastica and Sonia were also present, receiving services, helping with Quechua translation, and explaining healing methods to patients. Patients who appeared to have some trepidation about the treatments left relaxed, smiling, and promising to bring more friends and family members in the afternoon and the next day. The office quickly filled with Ollantinos seeking services after lunch, and the dedicated Healer2Healer volunteers worked long after the clinic closed, ensuring that every patient waiting was seen.

A local man receives acupuncture and reiki for shoulder pain.
A local man receives acupuncture and reiki for shoulder pain.
SVH M&E Coordinator Erin and H2H volunteer Hinda helped with crowd control!
SVH M&E Coordinator Erin and H2H volunteer Hinda helped with crowd control!

On Friday morning, another local NGO, MySmallHelp, brought several patients with varying disabilities to the office for services. The Healer2Healer practitioners provided loving and professional care for all. After a long, full day of treatment, several Healer2Healer volunteers made a home visit to provide care for a woman who could not leave her home due to her disabilities. In total, 79 people from Ollantaytambo and surrounding communities attended the clinic, some returning for multiple visits and to try more services! Overall, the event was a rousing success, and all of us at SVH and Healer2Healer were thrilled to see such a positive reaction from the community. On Saturday, the group travelled to Patacancha for an intercambio (exchange of knowledge) with the promotoras; check back for more updates and beautiful pictures!

Massage on the right, acupuncture in the back, and reiki on the left. Despite the bustle, H2H practitioners created a relaxing therapeutic experience for each patient.
Massage on the right, acupuncture in the back, and reiki on the left. Despite the bustle, H2H practitioners created a relaxing therapeutic experience for each patient.

– Written by Lucy Paine

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