Acupuncturists from around the UK are making preparations for their second trip to Sri Lanka to help those people still suffering as a result of the Asian tsunami. The tsunami, which struck on Boxing Day 2004, caused death and destruction on a massive scale - over 30,000 died and 1.5 million were left homeless, traumatised and destitute. The Acupuncture sans Frontières expedition - named after international medical aid specialists, Médecins sans Frontières - is due to depart for Sri Lanka in April 2006.
For their pioneering first project last September, Acupuncture Sans Frontières (AsF) organised clinics at Buddhist temples in the southern cities of Galle and Matara, with satellite clinics further north in the regional centre of Kurunegala. Patients received acupuncture, herbal medicine, homeopathy and massage, and according to research figures, 77% of the 2000+ patients reported a positive benefit from their treatment. The AsF team now plan to take their skills to the most seriously affected part of the island - the East coast - which has so far received the least in the way of aid. Clinics will be held in the districts of Ampara and Hambantota, with satellite clinics in the surrounding regions where many still live in temporary structures and refugee camps.
According to the Venerable Makure Mangala, Chief Incumbent of the East London Buddhist Centre and co-organiser of the AsF initiative, the main conditions afflicting tsunami victims are musculo-skeletal injuries, gastro-intestinal illness, respiratory and skin diseases. "However, the most significant and widespread issue for the survivors is that of low mood, depression and mental health problems. Just recently, an elderly lady in one district has died of a broken heart - without any physical illness. She just gave up living due to the mental and emotional pain."
Danny Maxwell, a member of the AsF Executive Committee, comments, "As well as being an excellent method of treating physical injury and pain, gastrointestinal complaints and the other problems being faced by the tsunami survivors, acupuncture can have a hugely powerful effect on the mental-emotional aspects of a human being. Our first trip to Sri Lanka was hugely successful, and we hope to be able to continue to support them in transforming their immense pain and loss into strength and hope."
Acupuncture sans Frontières is a non-profit making project. The 2006 Sri Lanka Project will run for a 6-week period. All the AsF volunteers are experienced acupuncturists/herbalists or practitioners of other selected alternative therapies. They are giving their time and skills for free. All equipment and funding is being donated.