A Haitian monk brings home the gift of healing

Venerable Thupten Jinpa, a Haitian-born Tibetan Buddhist monk, was in meditation retreat in France on January 12, 2010, when his caretakers interrupted him with news of the terrible earthquake that devastated his native country.

Ven. Jinpa's first priority was to contact his father and make sure he was all right. This phone call, though heartbreaking, was the first step in an incredible journey of compassion, love and service.

A Haitian monk brings home the gift of healing

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Venerable Thupten Jinpa, a Haitian-born Tibetan Buddhist monk, was in meditation retreat in France when he received the message that his country had fallen to pieces due to the earthquake of January 12, 2010. He slowly found out that his elderly father and other relatives had survived, but phone service to Haiti was unavailable from France.

Three weeks after the earthquake, he finally talked to his father on the phone. Although the 85-year-old man said he was fine, he sounded spaced out and depressed. When Jinpa pressed him to tell him what was really going on with him he confessed:

"I just want to leave the country. It is too hard for me to sleep outside. I do not even have a tent, and the nights are cold. I don't want to complain, because I do not want to be a burden to you. But I am terrified of a new quake, and cannot make myself go under any roof.

"I am so frightened. When the earthquake happened, I was in the shower. I tried to run out, but the shock waves hurled me from one side of the corridor walls to the other, and the doors were opening against me so I could not run out. The front door hit me in my shoulder and I cannot move it since. I also have a backache now and have a tough time walking. Please come to get me out of here!"

So Jinpa decided to fly to Haiti to bring his father to the US with him. He mentioned to a friend how much he would like to spend his time in Haiti helping people while waiting for his father's papers to clear. Julia, an herbalist and naturopath, responded by launching a fund-raising effort for what would become the Naturopathic Relief Clinic for Earthquake Victims. The response was incredible, and thus the project born.

While the clinic is a huge success, Jinpa's father has not yet been allowed to leave the country. At least we treated him for his shock and his injuries and diarrhea, and the mere fact that people came to try and rescue him pulled him out of his depression for a while.

Plastic rice and plastic chicken

By now, the Naturopathic Clinic has been running permanently for almost four months, being open two days a week or more as needed in one of the poor neighborhoods of Port-au-Prince. The women are seeing about 160 people per week, bringing the total of people treated for free up to 24,500 patients to date!

Also, after 1-1/2 years of boycott by the losing opposition, the elected new president has finally been inaugurated. Whether or not this will stop the street riots fed by the corrupt opposition remains to be seen. Haiti has seen an unabated series of disasters since the hurricane, and we have to figure out a new problem every week. The problems are compounded by the fact that the government hospitals have been on strike for the last two months and more people than ever are flocking to our clinic.

Plastic rice and plastic chicken

End of December, we started receiving the oddest of videos from Haiti with a call for help - everyone was sick from eating plastic rice. Not new to China, contraband rice made from melted white and clear plastic bags has flooded Haiti. Impossible to tell apart from real rice, it cooks slightly more sticky, tastes normal enough, and leaves the victim nauseated, bloated, and constipated. We were not able to figure out a homeopathic remedy for "sick from eating plastic", however a laxative helped instantaneously.

Since we could not afford the rare and now expensive castor oil, we told people to resort to the old Haitian home remedy for constipation: drinking soap water, the poor man's laxative. The crew figured out that using digestive essential oils in a 1 % blend rubbed on the belly, immediately made people belch a lot and brought on stool, much to the relief of the sufferers. Thank you again to Madeleine from Levensboom for those oils!!!

Within a week, there were plastic vermicelli in Haiti and were people asked to light their noodles before cooking them, for if they burnt easily and released toxic fumes, they were the criminal stuff and dangerous. Try to imagine if you are extremely hungry already and finally manage to buy one meager meal for your family, only to find out some Chinese bandits made it out of plastic...

About a week after that, the market got flooded with plastic chicken breast pieces, and videos went around teaching people how to identify the fake stuff from the real. The last we heard is that they found plastic lettuce.

People have asked us, "Who on earth would do such a thing?" Well, people with no ethics whatsoever. I heard that if those criminals manage to market just one batch of the contraband fake food, they gain so much money that it makes the risk of getting caught worthwhile.

We think that Haiti is somewhat of a testing ground for these things right now, because the country has had no functioning system of governance nor justice for a long time. Haiti is also so small, it cannot defend itself on an international level.

A special thanks to ERO Charitable Foundation for their grant to the clinic, which includes a budget for castor oil! Their contribution will cover the clinic until end of March.

Mysterious epidemic

As if all of this were not enough, in the aftermath of hurricane Matthew most chicken died from a mysterious disease. Hungry as people are, many ate the dead birds in spite of warnings not to. Since then, many of them suffer from diarrhea, vomiting, cramps, and very severe rashes and infected skin eruptions. Even the local authorities do not know what it is, and as it is contagious, it spreads within the families.

Since it seems to be a bacterial infection, we are now treating it with cautious internal doses of essential oils of tea tree, palmarosa, and rosalina (thanks to expert aromatherapist Rhiannon Harris for helping with this, and again to Madeleine for the oils!) along with homeopathic Silica. As a result, all symptoms vanish within a few days. Homeopathic Silica is a real hit for pus-filled skin sores especially on the head (thank you, Hahnemann Labs!).

"They call us doctors!"

Jinpa and Julia have been making a series of training videos on emergency homeopathy in French-Créole for the staff, as phone lines always break down after a few minutes, not allowing for in-depth explanation of anything. Camio and Marie-Lucie have been working with us for the past 7 years, learning the basics from watching us do. They are now seeing patients, and sending us text messages when they get stuck with a difficult case.

The neighborhood has fully embraced their work, knocking on their doors in the middle of the night to call them to an emergency, or lining up in front of the clinic door in the mornings to say thank you and report how much better they feel. "They call me 'doctor' now!" Camio exclaimed a bit embarrassed.

Maybe I can sneak off with the last milk powder...

In one case, she saw a little boy with severe dizziness, nausea, and weakness. Through good case-taking, she understood he was just much too hungry to function, and went to buy a little bottle of Ovomaltine nutritional powder for him from her own money. When she walked down the road a little later, she heard him call "Doctor, doctor, I'm all better, see, I'm playing soccer now!"

Another time when she walked home, she hear a voice call "Miss, miss!" It was a woman. "Do you see the child playing there? You saved her life last week, when she almost died!" Nothing better than restoring a child's desire to run and play! The very beneficial work has greatly increased the self-esteem and social status of these formerly unemployed women.

What's new? Helping the Haitians to help themselves

Grateful for the treatment they have received, and for the effectiveness of the natural remedies, people are increasingly offering whatever little money they can spare to contribute to the clinic's running costs. "The doctor and the antibiotics did not help me, and you did, and it was even for free!" many have said.

We decided to put up a donation box, allowing everyone to contribute as they wish or can. We also feel that this is a good step towards the clinic being more of a community-supported effort, rather than something that some other rich country makes happen for them. We will use this cash to help buy the plastic bottles and vegetable base oil we use to dispense remedies. One very grateful patient returned with a gallon of oil! This is real grassroots work - encouraging the Haitians to help themselves, rather than staying victims.

In the consultation chair

Here is our favorite selection of cute children's photos for this time - again heart-breaking to see how starved many look:

The clinic is making a huge difference. Camio told us "although the children are still not eating, the clinic makes such a difference in their lives that they are healthy and do well in school. We hear the same from the orphanage, where the teachers are surprised that thanks to the remedies, the hungry children are still learning and playing. Meci bon dié, thank you God and bless the people who are sending help!"

Please help us keep the clinic alive and going, any donations are greatly welcome, as always via Paypal or directly through one of us. We are really looking for a donation of lavender essential oil!

—Julia, Jinpa, and Michelle (our shipping heroine!)

Jinpa and Julia teaching homeopathy in French-Créole to the staff