This time the MettaDana/Vipassana Hawaii Foundation asked me to join another acupuncturist, Michael Zucker of Honolulu, Hawaii, to travel to Burma, now known as Myanmar. We were asked to begin a formal class teaching traditional Burmese healers the art and science of Acupuncture. In January of 2000 we traveled to the Sagaing hills west of the city of Mandalay to Kysawa monastery and began with 13 students. We combined lectures, demonstrations and treating patients while the students looked on. This improbable beginning is kept alive annually in January with at least two or three doctors of acupuncture sharing their skills and knowledge. Data collected in 2007 showed that these former students had treated over 2500 people.
In April of 2004 another opportunity surfaced to travel to Tanzania, Africa to ascertain the viability of starting a similar program there. I suggested that it would be possible, but that I wasn’t available to start it.
In January of 2005, as I was completing my formal training in Somatic Experiencing (SE), a mind-body approach for dealing with acute traumatic stress, The Foundation for Human Enrichment (FHE) invited me travel with a group of mental health therapists to southern Thailand. A month before, the Christmas earthquake and tsunami of 2004 struck the western coastline destroying buildings, damaging agricultural land and killing thousands of people. I had a new therapy to offer, SE, and was soon using these wonderful tools.
Three months after my month spent in Thailand, another team traveled to southeast India to treat hundreds of survivors in countless villages up and down the coast.
In April of 2006, I traveled to Bali, Indonesia and again was asked if I could work with a group of volunteers recently back from Aceh, ground zero of the earthquake and tsunami.
In July 2008 the first of five teams traveled to Chengdu, China with the goal to train mental health professionals in the basics of SE followed by direct, hands-on work in the tent cities erected after the devastating earthquake of May 12. The last team completed the contract on the first anniversary of the quake.
Following the 2010 Earthquake in Haiti, The Trauma Resource Institute (TRI) was asked by the Unitarian Universalist Church to train selected individuals in the Trauma Resiliency Model (TRM). A two-year program was envisioned comprising of eight team visits. I was fortunate to join the seventh team in March 2012 and the eight team in July of 2012. In these last two visits the final task was to train our former trainees to become trainers themselves.
I will continue to work with foundations and nonprofits that offer this relief work and training.