Just back from my annual clown trip to Iquitos, Peru with Patch Adams M.D., and 130 clowns from all over the world, where we participate in the Belen Project. It is a community preventative health initiative that’s been going on for 10 years; that in addition to our clowning work (visiting hospitals, children’s workshops, street theater, painting murals), we also conduct mental health clinics in the streets which I’ve described in detail before ( http://www.healingdoc.com/blogs/category/articles/ )
The professionals who staff these clinics are all clowns, who in addition are healthcare professionals from many disciplines (doctors, social workers, nurses, psychologists, counselors, chaplain/ministers, body workers), all work with people and their problems.
The Gesundheit! model features a one time, 20 minute, intense heartfelt encounter, intently listening and focusing less on the trauma, and more on the patients strengths and resilience. We don’t make diagnoses or prescribe medication, but we sometimes give away amulets and blessings. In the 3 years I’ve been doing this, we find that in this short time one can make a heartfelt connection that can inspire hope. This year I broke the rule and saw someone a second time.
Maria is a 42-year-old woman who was acutely suicidal. She woke up, and after her morning prayers, decided today was the day she was going to kill herself. After 6 months of unbearable suffering she’d had enough; told me her 20-year-old daughter had been raped 6 months ago and was now pregnant. Maria’s family blamed her, saying if she hadn’t divorced her husband 15 years earlier, this would not have happened. Maria knew she was not to blame, in which I concurred, but alas she could not, as her family suggested, get over it and move on.
I told her I thought today was a miracle; this morning she was ready to die, and this afternoon we showed up on her street. What are the odds of that happening? I also said I believed her and that she could kill herself so she had two choices; she could be hospitalized, or she could make me a promise at least for today and tonight she would not kill herself. I would give her an amulet that had been blessed by Navajo and Huichol Shaman, and I wanted her to hold it during tomorrows morning prayers; she would feel our blessings and remember this miraculous day that we found one another. Perhaps tomorrow she could make a promise to herself to live for another day.
After the clinic, I couldn’t get her out of my mind, so I asked my clinic coordinator to check in on her the next day. We were going to be conducting another clinic not far from her home, and to invite her to the next clinic we would be conducting in a few days and to please bring her daughter as well.
Maria showed up not only with her six-months pregnant daughter, but also her younger 18-year-old daughter. Together they told me the rest of the story. Both girls had been raped (the younger over a year ago), and both by different maternal uncles. They had never spoken about it to anyone outside the family, and although Maria confronted her brothers she refused to press charges (this is not a culture in which women seek legal redress and prosecute their rapists).
At the end, I gave both the girls an amulet and blessed the family; whatever they faced they would face it better together. Their love for each other would be showered on this new baby, along with blessings of many relatives all over the world.
It doesn’t take a long time to connect at the soul level if you are actively in the moment, and it is in those miraculous moments that we are reminded of our shared humanity.
PS: If you want to connect with your own healing power check out the only workshop I will be doing with Mona Polacca this year entitled Rituals and Ceremonies of Healing (http://healingdoc.com/rituals-and-ceremonies-of-healing.php )