BENEFITING: FLOATING DOCTORS INC
EVENT DATE: Apr 20, 2013
I have been accepted to do a research project with a well known group called Floating Doctors in Panama (see video here http://www.cnn.com/2012/02/23/health/cnnheroes-labrot-floating-doctors/index.html). They are providing medical care and other aid currently to the people of Panama in and around Bocas del Toro.
Many people who volunteer are traditional western MDs and nurses. However, they are open to alternative projects as well. Dr. LeBrot, founder of the organization, has expressed his dismay at the rapidity of cultural change in the area. One example he cited in a talk concerned the children of one local village. During the first visit, all of the children were in traditional clothing. 6 months later, all but two were wearing jeans, logo shirts, Nike shoes, etc. There is a need to preserve the knowledge and customs of this culture before they are lost to history forever.
WHAT I WILL BE DOING:
I will be working with the local traditional healer, most likely on Isla Popa, in Bocas del Toro. The name of this healer is "curandero" which is a Spanish word for a shaman or "faith" healer, but the indigenous Ngäbe word Krägäbotdä perhaps describes their role in the community better: it translates more as "traditional or communal medicine", without a connotation of magic or religion per se. I will be shadowing the krägäbotdä and for any patients he has document the plant(s) used, instructions for harvesting, methods of preparation and administration, and observe the patient before, during, and after the treatments. When he has no active patients I will document the preparation of treatments for specific illnesses.
As far as I am aware there are very few records of documentation among these people. This project has the potential to become the one of the first if not the FIRST record of the healing traditions of this people. I am uniquely qualified to help in this project, with a background in environmental and geological sciences, as well as world music (often a part of the healing process), in addition to my current studies in traditional Chinese medicine and herbology at Yo San University in CA. My prior degrees are from Rutgers University and Temple University.
I will spend two weeks on this trip and will need to pay for the following:
Volunteer fee (100% of which goes directly to Floating Doctors' projects. More info can be found on their website www.floatingdoctors.com). This covers expenses once I get to Bocas Del Toro- ie food, transport, etc.
If you are a doctor in Los Angeles who is able to donate required vaccinations for free, that is one less thing I would have to pay for and one more bit of help that could go instead directly to people who desperately need it. OR if you are an individual with an airplane voucher you would like to donate, please contact me directly.