On December 14, 2012, my hometown of Newtown CT, was rocked by a deadly school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. In the aftermath, I offered my private clinic to treat anyone affected by the shooting, free of charge. It was a long journey of recovery for all of us and along the way, I was witness to the birth of many ideas that would grow into powerful statements of resilience, courage, and faith. My own action, moving forward, has taken the shape of medical mission trips, where I use my skills as an acupuncturist and athletic trainer to treat and teach in areas of need around the world.
This past May 2018, I had the opportunity to travel to the Manu jungle area of Peru with Project Buena Vista. Our group consisted of 4 women: 3 licensed acupuncturists and one college student. We met in the mountain city of Cusco, packed a van with all our supplies and embarked on an 8-hour rollercoaster ride down to the village of Pilcopata. For 2 days we treated in a community style setting, with the addition of one stretcher acting as a table. Being an orthopedic specialist, (and the oldest) I was allowed to hog the table! Through the smoke of the moxa, an occasional dog and chicken could be spied passing through. A little bit of broken Spanish and a lot of gesturing and we were in business! The line grew longer and they came and they came, over 105 patients in one day. Each of them received a full TCM treatment, ending with some type of bodywork. Touch is healing, this I know with absolute certainty!
Our next stop was deep in the jungle at the home base of Project Buena Vista, a reasonable van ride, boat ride and hike away! Buena Vista is a primitive, but wonderfully comfortable compound tucked away in some of the prettiest jungle you’ll ever see. We were visited by monkeys, butterflies, birds, and oh yes, there was Lola the Sloth who spent the week with us! Each morning we took a quick boat ride across the river and hiked the 45 minutes to the village of Salvacion. On the lucky days, we piled into a moto-taxi (think motorcycle with a roof) for the last half mile of the trek. Our clinic was set up in an empty room at the hospital, where we had 3 beds available and occupied most of the time. In addition to the typical musculoskeletal complaints, we treated some nerve related arm and leg dysfunction, Bell’s palsy and performed some wound care as well.
I loved this outreach mission with Project Buena Vista. The founders of the project have such an intimate knowledge of the area and the people that I never really felt like a foreigner. I made friends in Peru and I think I represented the US in a kind and loving way. I feel passionate that touch, shared between cultures, is where peace begins. These things are invaluable in a world that seems bent on violence more than ever. One person can make a difference, I promise you.
Lhasa has donated supplies to so many trips and efforts that I have been a part of and I am so grateful to them for their efforts to support philanthropy.
For more information on Project Buena Vista please visit :
For more information on my practice and to read more about my trip to Peru: