Friday, February 16, 2007

our day at the beach

Eduardo Carson is an elementary school teacher in Edmonton, Alberta. He and his students at St. Angela's School raised money so that our acupuncture brigade could take the kids at Parajito Azul to the beach for the day.

A huge thank you to Ed and to all of his students for this wonderful experience!

more beach pics

even more beach pics

Friday, February 9, 2007

hasta el proximo

andrea, lindsay and lynda flew home this morning. back to their families, and back to the cold. chris and I will do the same on monday. it is hard to believe that after so many months of planning that the brigade is actually over.

thank you to everyone that offered us love and support along the way.

thank you especially to my amazing team. they spent the last three weeks waking up early in the morning and working their asses off in the intense nicaraguan heat. they
rolled with all of the unexpected punches that nicaragua offered them, including crazy sandy wind, nasty coughs, violent stomach viruses and three flat tires. they worked even longer hours than the already long days that i had booked for them in the clinic. they gave from their hearts, and they did amazing work with the kids at the parajito azul centre.

Lynda: you are such a brilliant and lovely woman. i have heard andrea speak highly of you over the course of our friendship, and it was such an honour to finally meet you and to share this experience with you and your daughter. thank you choosing to come to nicaragua with us, and for doing all of the (often underappreciated) work of charting for the clinic. your documentation is the tangible evidence of the amazing work that happened at the centre. i am forever a member of your fan club. thank you for trusting me to take you on this trip, and for opening your heart to this experience. thank you especially for being the mama to us all.

Lindsay: when i talk about lynda being the mama to us all, i think of you as being the mama to the babies. thank you for being the one to hold each and every child that came through the clinic. you were doing so much more than keeping them on the table, and getting them ready for their needles. you were loving them deeply, and that was obvious to all of us. thank you for being so flexible with your position in this group, and allowing your role to change from artist to nurturer. the clinic could be so chaotic, and you were the one that consistantly worked to make it a safe, quiet, and peaceful space for the people recieving treatment. your generousity of spirit and your open heart helped those amazing kids to feel safe with us. thank you for your friendship in tricky times, and thank you for all of your hard work. i look forward to a bottle of wine and a long talk as soon as i get back to edmonton. i love you.

Andrea: what can i even say? that i adore you. that i believe in you. that i feel incredibly blessed to have shared in this journey with you. andrea, i have trouble believing that this entire experience came out of a conversation in your clinic almost a year ago today. look what we made happen! and we are not finished yet. there is still a long road ahead of us, and i am committed to walking down that road with you. thank you for trusting me to plan this trip for us. thank you for encouraging me to have the confidence to be a leader. thank you treating these kids with the exact same respect as you treat your clients at home. thank you for loving them, for singing to them, and for healing them. thank you for teaching a TCM workshop in a rural community in northern nicaragua. thank you for holding workshops on acupressure points for the staff at the orphanage. thank you for consistantly going above and beyond what was expected of you, both from the people here in nicaragua, and from our team. thank you so much for coming to my favourite place in the universe both to heal children, and to teach communities how to heal themselves. i am so blessed to have you in my life.

much love to you all. thank you for coming to Nicaragua.

(chris and angel are still here with me. They both know how much I love them, and how grateful i am to have them around. i plan on showering them with love over the next three days in lieu of blogger style tributes. xoxox. i also plan on spending the rest of my life with chris, and inviting angel´s future children to spend summers with me in both boys know that i love them like crazy. they have been invaluable members of our team, and i wouldnt trade them in for anything.)

Tuesday, February 6, 2007


As an acuncturist in Canada, I spend half my time treating clients and the rest of it standing there, with my sales jacket on, trying to explain what I do and why it will work. I am not a good salesman. I am not the kind who can sell you a car, or land. I am not a politician, so I´m especially poor at selling ideas. I sold shoes in grade nine, my hair teased in awesome eighties style, but I wasn´t really good at that either, because I would always tell the truth. "You don´t want those shoes, those will fall apart. You want these..."

And so it goes, that when I am trying to sell acupuncture, the subject of proof dominates the conversation. Everyone wants to know if it works. And as I´ve said, I´m an honest gal. They want to know how long til it works and how long will it last etc. To say that clients are sceptical is an understatement. Sometimes they are just curious, sometimes they are defensive and sometimes they are down right rude. But every day, I go to work and there I stand, with my jacket on, and whip out for demonstration the latest models of healing for sale. I don´t mean to sound negative. I knew that becoming an acupuncturist would involve this kind conversation with folks and most days I don´t mind.

I want acupuncture to heal, solve, or fix someone´s problem as much as you do. In Canada, we especially like to fix our problems. Healing is too nebulous a word, fixing, now that really nails it. Problem solved, done. I want that too. I know my clients want it, but I didn´t realize how tied me-myself-and-I had become to it until I performed 161 acupuncture treatments in 12 days on the children and staff of Pajarito Azul.

Here are the results:

one child could not have a bowel movement without an enema and had not had an unassisted bowel movement in a year. Medication proved ineffective. Acupuncture resulted in daily BM´s and no enema was used.

one child with anorexia and epilepsy was seizing 3 times a day. Medication was no longer effective. During treatment, the child only had 2 seizures in 3 weeks and gained a pound.

one child with failure to thrive grew an inch and gained half a pound.

I could go on and on and on. The truth is, the results were amazing and most of them I´m going to keep to myself. Not cause I´m stingy, but out of respect for the 161 experiences that I had the honour of being a part of.

I am really happy with these results. I´m proud of my team. I feel blessed and so honoured to be a part of this. But the truth is, I didn´t fix anybody. Not one child.

But the truth is, I never do.

love andrea

ps. I want to thank all my clients past and present. I am dedicated to your healing paths and I so appreciate your patience with my learning curve. Thanks to everyone who continues to help me grow as an acupuncturist and as a human being. Thanks to my medical team here and at Pajarito Azul. But most of all, thank you to every one of those children. They made me grow up.

Photos I took today

Hi, I thought I might just describe our day by telling you about the photos I took today.It was our last day at Parahito Azul and so a sad and yet happy day too. The first one was in the hallway of the orphanage,just Andrea on her last day-refreshed and ready to go-not yet aware of the emotion to come-the goodbyes-the hugs the presents for her and from her.and yes the crying of many.Amanda comes on her way to school-a blind girl that Andrea is treating for headaches-she wants a photo of us with her and so it goes everyone wants photos. I think the idea is that we will send back copies and we will, of course.The next photos is a surpize the staff gives to us with the help of two of the ladies that live there. They dress up in these elaborate bright long dresses and do traditional Nicaragua dances of godbye for us. Now how could you not get tears with this. It was very moving.I take a photo of this young man outside the bars of our clinic.He is moping the floor.Everyday he mops and everyday the cleaning ladies come along behind him and mop again. I presume it is his job. We see many of the orphans working,mostly cleaning but also looking after each other.Andrea has brought a little wading pool from Edmonton. We fill it up with plastic balls and pop in one of the cerebral palsy kids .It allows them to stretch and not get hurt. More of these balls have been donated by -well probably shouldn´t say but great supporters of our cause and thank you.We go to Los Torres,the poorest part of town and I take so many photos-we visit a school, a home of Jania´s friend,a church and I cann´t describe it, but the photos will.It was very humbeling and I feel we just take so much for granted at home.We leave some of the socks,toothbrushes and art supplies with the school to be distributed. The need is so great, I am thankful we brought so much to give away. Last we end our day by going to park way above the city that honors Sandino-the first revolutionary of Nicaragua and it was inspiring to see the whole city-Looking forward to some down time before we head home.Lynda House

Saturday, February 3, 2007


There is water all inside of me. Like I could cry any minute, but also like I could explode and end up washed straight away into the gutter with the plastic and the rest of the garbage. I´m a walking tidal wave. I am trying to carry myself well, keep every one´s spirits up, but with every step, a little water spills over the side.

I thought I understood poverty. I thought of myself as poor, with Visa debt, student loans, and such. But it´s bullshit. I don´t carry my baby to the meridian of the road. I don´t stand with my three year old on the yellow line and hold her up to every passing car. I don´t try to rip car doors open to crawl inside. I wouldn´t kill to eat, kill for fear, kill for a job, kill to be anywhere else.

To see the little kids, the age of my own daughter standing in the road while cars whiz by, is no longer freaking me out. If that happened in Canada, someone would call the cops. Here, she is selling gum, or just begging. I´ve stopped worrying that she will be hit. I don´t look that closely, because I know she´ll be ok. People driving at top speed seem to know that at every intersection, little girls 2 and 3 years old will be standing, perfectly still, waiting.

Today I made jokes in a burger joint, enjoying making my friends laugh, while outside, two kids were passed out near our car. I didn´t stop to wake them up. It´s not safe for me, I cannot call the cops for them. I don´t even speak Spanish, so instead, I make my friends laugh inside the BurgerLoco while they sleep.

At the orphanage, Hector, perhaps the smartest of the orphans, asks me if I will cry when I leave. He tells me through a translator, "Because I´ll cry when you leave... a lot". I tell him yes I will cry for him when I go, I almost start just then, but I keep it inside.