During my Western Medical training in Mexico, I spent one year in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, doing my social service in a little village one hour away, called Oxchuc. So everyday I would drive in this little road in the mountains to reach the clinic and treat very poor people with western drugs with not very good results, it was very frustrating!   But in another way it was an eye opener, because the Mayans have an amazing herbal medicine. And when my patients asked if they could take their medicine, I always said “of course”, and 90% of the time, they got better.  It was here when I decided I wanted to venture into the alternative side of medicine.  At the end it was a beautiful experience and I always felt I wanted to go back to work with the Mayan indigenous communities. 7 years later, it finally happened! 🙂

From Sept 14-23, 2013, Ryan Thompson R.Ac, and I traveled to Northen part of Guatemala to work with an organization called GUAMAP.  The indigenous communities there are also Mayan. Chiapas and Guatemala are the countries where the Mayan civilization established itself, and you can visit magical places like Tikal and Palenque and marvel at their majestic pyramids.

GUAMAP is an organization that has been sending spanish speaking acupuncturist to Guatemala to train rural health workers since the ’70s. They work hand by hand with a Non-Govermetal Organization called ACESCSA. This NGO trains people to become “health promotors” in their communities. Now this communities are really isolated and far away. So the “health promotors” are the main health service in this villages.  And GUAMAP trains this same people to be “acupuncturist promotors”.

Ryan Thompson R.Ac and I where invited to go and teach an advance course to students that have been practicing acupuncture from 7-15 years. And I’m very grateful by the whole experience. The students/health promotors/acupuncturist are amazing people. They had to travel a long way to arrive to ACESCA in San Fransisco, Peten.   One of them traveled 4 hours by horse! I fell in love with each and every one of them, and the staff, we where very well taken care of and fed really good. I felt really pampered.   The people in this project are very loving, positive and caring between each other.   All of them have experienced many hardships during their lives. Most of them have seen and lived terrible things like the murder of loved ones by the war, losing loved ones through illnesses that could be prevented, losing loved ones to addictions of drugs and alcohol and experiencing intra family abuse and violence. In spite of all of this, they continue to excel themselves and to search ways to grow, learn and share their skills with their communities to make the world a better place.

The students where always keen in theirs studies, they loved to learn chi kung and new acupuncture techniques. Ryan and I also taught 3 days of Traditional Chinese Medicine focused on Gynecology and Pediatrics, and we supervised two days an a half of clinic, we treated more then 100 patients. It was amazing! The students are having really good results with acupuncture in treating conditions like headaches, migrains, osteo arthritis, sciatica, lower back pain, shoulder pain, neck pain, urinary tract infections, paludisme, infertility, post traumatic stress syndrome, epilespy, digestive problems, respiratory problems, uterine prolapse and menopause.

I’m very happy with the result of this journey. The Health Promotors/Acupuncturist are doing amazing work and its important to keep supporting them.

When I was in Chiapas I felt really connected with the land and its people, and now that I’ve gone back to GUatemala, I know that a piece of my heart is always going to stay in the Mayan territory forever! What a beautiful and inspiring experience this has been and I’m very happy to have shared it with my friend and colleague Ryan Thompson R.Ac, what a team! 🙂