Brave Team Treats Quiche Maya

Prior posts  on Barbara Ford Center for Peace  - Santa Cruz del Quiche
Mayans Relax with Yoga at Traditional Chinese Medicine Jornada
Mayan Women are Empowered to Defend Themselves by a Black Belt 
Acupuncturists Launch Sustainable Treat and Train Mission in Guatemala 
NYC Traditional Chinese Medicine Professionals Volunteer to Treat and Train in GT
Mayans Rediscover Acupuncture at Centro de Paz Barbara Ford 
Acupuncturists Treat 1,000 Patients in Santa Cruz del Quiche, Zacualpa and San Filipe 
Meetings with Remarkable Mayans

Following Joan Boccino L.Ac.’s lead into the Barbara Ford Center for Peace,  a second wave of practitioners came to the District of Quiche to serve.  The medical outreach took place within days of soldiers shooting to kill peaceful protesters in nearby Totonicapan.  For the next five days, the team of sixteen would serve populations within this contentious district in Guatemala.   Besides their epic bravery, these practitioners have a reputation as a “a well-oiled machine.”  This is because some of them met while on missions and many of them regularly work together in New York City.  There is some speculation about how “the machine” struck its mighty chord.

Was the success was due to their composition -only a few senior students?

Or because of their methodology – a set of protocols and recommended times?

Or simply that this was the third go-around and everybody knows the drill?

Whatever it was, it worked for over eight hundred patients.

The delivery team of body workers, bonesetters and acupuncturists was exactly what was expected.  But, Dan tucked in a couple of yoginis, a martial arts instructor, a logistician and professional photographer to smooth the way and, also, document the process.

By the first afternoon they had synchronized under a therapeutic umbrella of Tuvan tunes and amid the pervasive eau d’ecru of burning moxa.  The shamanic sounds and sinews of smoke seemed to matte the acoustically challenged room and the practitioners glided soundlessly among their patients. They would treat and train in the cloudy, sunny pavilion at home base assisted by the precious handful of seasoned Quiche/Spanish translators and regular Health Promoters. This crowd rounded up the numbers; so the room was occupied by close to thirty people before the patients were welcomed. The rest of the BFPC registration and facilities staff kept count at the door and did most of the heavy lifting – outside.

As it is Sister Ginny’s way to share the wealth she sent this whole community packing on two bus and truck trips.  But she managed the long one a little differently this time.  Instead of doing a seven hours round-trip in one day and convoying back by dark, the team would journey by daylight.  After a half day treating and hours on the zig-zag road, they would be issued bunks at the convent in San Juan Cotzal, in the heart of Xixl triangle.  Here, the team would spend the night after a local feast and after being profoundly welcomed by a show of culture put on by local youth.

Opening with the welcoming dance, the players honored their visitors with a short happy drama about their courting traditions.  This production was very well received and applause broke out, again and again.  Following the show, the Center’s Juan Ramirez Ventura danced with the play’s enchanting ingénue and that won him a round.  But the pine needles levitated after Dan proudly accepted the hospitality on behalf of everybody – in flawless Spanish.   The impact of his surprisingly eloquent thanks was magnified when Marisela Jimenez matter of factly translated it like she did for the rest of the show.

The morning after this innocent reception, the line was scruffy and hard bitten. Here is where the teams treat more irritable bowel syndrome and they see more signs of residual PTSD and war wounds than further south. Peter Pankin, L.Ac. linked the pain to dampness and needled stomach points 36 and 37.  He would talk about tongues that looked like “raw meat between the liver and heart” and wonder how to cultivate chi. This was the place where the healing touch would matter the most.

The people closer to the cradle of the Civil War are much poorer; more anxious and still grieving their ghastly thirty-six year conflict.  Here, Maria-Antonietta Zarate would skillfully anchor a speaker in an interview about his experience in the holocaust. The church guardian would tell Ms. Zarate the story as Robert Stern’s camera rolled even though talking on camera gives him valid reason to be terrified.  He believes that he, too, could be captured and not returned like his uncle and aunt had been thirty years earlier.  After all, the convicted perpetrator of those crimes seems to be perpetually excused and is no stranger to the current president. This man declined the option of taking questions with his back to the lens.


He would brave it.

He sat in a pew under the span of palm sized crosses that flank a crucifix along the side aisle.  He began by pointing to his uncle’s cross and stated that he was nine years old when the conflict started.

“The Finceros (land owners) would be buying farm machinery from the United States and they would not need so many camposino’s.  The workers organized under General Lucas and began to get weapons from the Russians.”

His relatives were early collaborators and that branch of the family disappeared – his father left shortly after them.  Still, the authorities haunted his mother asking her about his father. After the house was burnt – with the harvest in it, they fled the rural area to  Cotzal.  He told the camera that the war had gone on for three years when Rios Montt declared an “amnesty.”  Everyone was urged to come forward and give their names to receive the pardon.  Everyone who came forward ended up in a grave and after that, the war went on for another thirty three years.  This story and the recent shootings made all the hiding faces and furtive looks more poignant.

Special Thanks to:
L.Acs: Norva Bennett,  Luke Hamilton, Monica Jones (from Seattle, Wa.), Peter Pankin, Christiane Mauro, Julie Ing Stern (from Boston, Ma), Dan Wunderlich,Maria-Antonietta Zarate, L.Ac. (from PA)

Body workers: Peter Caron, LMT, Maribel Gil (Yoga), Jeff Leinbach, LMT, Daniel Ortiz (PCOM), Terese Wunderlich, LMT, Anthony Zillmer, LMT

Logistics and Documentation: Kelly Call (from NC) and Robert Stern

Continue Joan Boccino’s work in Guatemala.

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Author: diane e. dreyfus

on the road until they put the lid down

2 thoughts on “Brave Team Treats Quiche Maya”

  1. Reblogged this on theglobalclinic and commented:
    NYC Sunday 04AUG13
    Come one and all to our community acupuncture clinic, this Sunday, August 4th! Help yourself and help others at the same time. Proceeds of this event will benefit the volunteer efforts of a non-profit organization conducting healing trips to underserved, indigenous populations throughout the world.

    Luke Hamilton Acupuncture 32 Union Square East – Suite 615 North, New York, New York 10003

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