Si Yuan Balance Method Acupuncture (SYBMA) joins humanitarian mission to Cambodia.
by Paul Wang
- Patients Treated:
- 846 patients in 8 days
- Ages 25 to 80 years old
- More women than men
- Conditions Treated:
- 70%: Musculoskeletal Pain (headache, pain in neck, shoulder, low back, elbow, wrist, sciatica, knee, ankle)
- 12%: Cardiological and respiratory problems (hypertension, palpitation, irregular heart beat)
- 9%: Digestive problems (gastritis, esophagitis, colitis, hemorrhoids)
- 9%: Psychological and neurological problems (stress, anxiety, insomnia, depression)
- Treatment Results:
- 82%: Very good with instant result
- 12%: Fair result with partial relief
- 5.8%: No significant change
- 0.2% (2 cases): Fainted because of needle phobia, stress, and heat
In 2014, under the auspices of the National Alliance of Filipino Concerns (NAFCON), I had the privilege to give intensive post-disaster relief to survivors of Super Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) in Tacloban, Eastern Visayas, Philippines. It was the biggest storm on record and regrettably many thousands perished. The impact of this experience confirmed to me the power of Balance Method Acupuncture (BMA) to relieve human suffering in disadvantaged and underserved populations. Moreover, it enhanced my skill and desire to do so again.
Delphine grew up in several developing countries. This early experience opened her mind to how different life could be depending on where people were born. Feeling fortunate to have had this chance, she was looking to use her skills to serve people who don’t have easy access to basic healthcare. After several months of research for a suitable mission to integrate acupuncture, she heard that one of our most dedicated French BMA students, Dr. Kimsong Lor, was the Mission Chief of a humanitarian medical group called SOS Cambodian Kids.
Given this background, we were honored to journey on behalf of Si Yuan Balance Method Acupuncture (SYBMA) as part of a humanitarian mission to Cambodia this August. Along with a seasoned team of medical doctors from France, a passionate group of pharmacy students, and an effective support staff, we integrated with rural communities to offer hands-on healthcare.
Delphine and I had met Dr. Lor at our SYBMA Advanced Track last June in Paris. He recounted how BMA received unanimously positive feedback during the 2015 mission. His hope was to expand acupuncture services this year. Even with relatively short notice, we readily agreed to aid him and quickly planned out our logistics. In less than two months, we found ourselves in the kingdom famed for its mystic architecture of Angkor Wat and tree-gripped sandstone at Ta Prohm.
A Swiss acupuncturist originally from Cambodia who has also trained BMA competently complemented Delphine and I. So, together with Lapy Lou, we established our initial temporary clinic on the grounds of a Buddhist monastery. This simply consisted of dozens of plastic chairs lined up in several rows on a raised platform. In fact, it felt as if we were on stage performing a dramatic acupuncture dance theater. Or maybe we were more akin to a hive of bees pollinating patients with our needles!
Occasionally, announced by a resounding clap of thunder, the heavens would unleash a vertical river flooding us downstream. Rather than faze me, this elemental energy saturated my veins and recharged my will, partly because of the cooling respite it provided. My mind momentarily flashed back to late summer afternoons in Taiwan on my grandmother’s terrace where tropical showers would tease us, slipping away almost as suddenly as they arrived. I took off my shoes to soak it all in.
After a busy morning paced with 20-30 treatments per hour, we returned to our accommodations for a lunch of fresh local cuisine. On this trip, we were particularly satisfied to savor the sun-ripened flesh of mango, pineapple, red and white dragonfruit, longan, rambutan, watermelon, plantain, jackfruit, durian, roasted coconut, and mangosteen. Empty bellies refueled, we bumped along the verdant landscape of paddies and palms back to afternoon queues of eagerly awaiting patients.
Chhu na? Where is your pain? I imperfectly acquired a few rudimentary words of Khmer, yet hardly enough to navigate symptom locations. Luckily, we were blessed by three adept translators who made our jobs an order of magnitude more efficient. Kaori and I immediately connected upon our first greeting smile. Later on, I learned of her illustrious escapades throughout the world rendering her fluent in Khmer, Japanese, Thai, and English. This common spirit of adventure perhaps bridged our mutual understanding, only I am far less linguistically gifted than her. I realized how lost I was when Kaori took leave. Thus, I was grateful to recruit Chenda once I learned of her Mandarin fluency. It was engaging to switch my mental software and operate in Khmer-Chinese.
Delphine was also assisted by Hour who was amazed that although patients initially had to be persuaded to get acupuncture instead of Western medicine, by the second day they were requesting it. He was very eager to identify the most important questions to ask every patient in order to save precious time. Hour helped Delphine reveal useful details related to each patient’s condition such as hard physical work in rice fields, falls from picking up palm tree fruits, and recent motorcycle accidents.
Soon, despite the language barrier, we all developed a smooth rhythm flowing from one patient to another.
Kaori, Chenda, and Hour were first-hand witnesses impressed by the vast and rapid response to BMA. They even expressed interest in studying acupuncture. We attained a 95-99% response rate in reducing the severity of various headaches; dizziness and vertigo; eye problems; sore throat; pain, tingling, numbness, and inflammation in the neck, trapezius, scapula, shoulder, elbow, wrist, fingers, hip, buttock, knee, ankle, toes, thoracic, lumbar, and sacral vertebrae; sciatica; arthritis; gastric and enteric discomfort; uterine cramping; shortness of breath; hypertension; anxiety; insomnia; etc.
As day paled to dusk, despite the steamy climate peppered with nocturnal mosquitoes and the abrupt yelp of geckos, we were still going strong and motivated to help as many villagers are we could. Hence, after just the first day, we went viral. Patients spread the word about our presence and some of their referrals trekked from hours away to see us. Even the medical doctors, pharmacy students, and tireless drivers were keen on having a try. They became some of our most dedicated and curious clients. Delphine took time to answer their questions about BMA. We were glad to ensure the health of our diligent, focused, and selfless coworkers. This included several victims of swimming pool mishaps.
All in all, with official ones on the record plus numerous impromptu sessions we did on vans, boats, and sofas, in lobbies, gazebos, and hotel rooms, we completed around 800 treatments. It was a reciprocal gift to give relief to so many people. We had no illusions for a lasting cure given our limited availability. But we were inspired to make whatever difference our efforts catalyzed. The success of this first trip will guide us for the future. We saw how the fundamentals of BMA were indispensable: rapid decisions, distal needling, instant results. Acupuncture systems without similar attributes would be difficult to employ in such a challenging environment.
The high volume also allowed us to further research BMA point selection based on the Acupuncture 1, 2, 3 process codified by our late Grandmaster. Besides refining the precision and flexibility of our Imaging and Mirroring, we successfully experimented with Meridian Conversion, Seasonal Balance, Five Element, and Twelve Magical Meridian Strategies from our SYBMA Advanced Track curricula. I will admit, being somewhat ambidextrous, I even honed my two-hand simultaneous insertion technique!
What you eventually embody as a Balance Method Acupuncturist is the confidence to enact a direct, immediate benefit in any human (even animal) life. It is not necessary to travel across the globe to achieve that. The school teacher or mother of two in your own neighborhood deserves as much care as a rice farmer or factory employee in distant Cambodia. Cumulative practice results in a valuable ability that you apply wherever you are.
That can be your daily mission.
Statement by Mission Partner
From Mr. Bophanara of Tourisme Solidaire:
For the 1st time the project Santé pour Tous (Health for Everyone) received the help of the acupuncture association SYBMA (Si Yuan Balance Method Acupuncture), thanks to a referral by Dr. Kimsong Lor from SOS Cambodian Kids. During the mission, over 800 villagers benefited from their care.
In November, 3 months after the August mission, we came back to the site Kompong Speu to gather feedback from people and verify the efficacy of this method. As a reminder, to be beneficial, acupuncture requires at least 3 treatments. Thus, we interviewed a group of 15 villagers from 35 to 75 years old who received 3 treatments:
SYBMA Experience Feedback
A Sampling of 15 patients
|Village||Age||Sex||Condition||Results (8/2016)||Results (11/2016)||Wish|
|Prey Kontrong||35||F||facial paralysis||muscles less tight||no change||come more often to our village|
|Krang Svay||45||F||headache||Instant relief||less frequent pain||recommended to everyone|
|Cheung Phnom||65||F||lumbar pain||less pain and more flexibility||better flexibility but pain returned because of rice harvest season||prefer 2 visits per year like other treatment options|
|Tlok DongKor||70||F||joint pain||relief||still feels better than before treatments||if possible twice a year|
|Tro Peing Learb||45||M||acute rheumatoid arthritis||relief||less pain comparing to last year||come more frequently|
|Prey Prodak||55||M||abdominal pain||relief||comes back but less frequently||recommended to everyone|
|Monn||65||M||knee pain||relief||less pain than pain||recommended to everyone|
|Cheung Kdey||64||M||acute rheumatoid arthritis||relief||pain came back very gradually||recommended to everyone|
|Phum Makak||70||F||bilateral shoulder pain||immediate relief||less frequent pain||recommended to everyone|
|Taing Roussey||45||M||pain and chronic fever||relief||less frequent pain||recommended to everyone|
|Prey Veav||75||F||joint pain||instant relief and more flexibility||less pain||recommended to everyone|
|Tropaing Sa||65||F||tingling in hands and legs||immediate relief||tingling less frequent||recommended to everyone|
|Dey Krohom||35||M||headache||immediate relief||less frequent pain||recommended to everyone|
|Srey Proseur||40||M||abdominal pain||immediate relief||less frequent pain||recommended to everyone|
|Dey Laor||42||M||tingling in hands and legs||immediate relief||tingling less frequent||recommended to everyone|
According to the WHO, Cambodia has 2 MD’s per 10,000 inhabitants. The total health expense per inhabitant is 229 Euros (WHO 2013 Report). The average gross income for rural villagers is 300 Euros year.
Our project Santé pour Tous (Health for Everyone) has 2 main directions:
1. Short-term: Help people benefit from Western medicine twice a year. Work in cooperation with non-profit organizations specializing in healthcare.
2. Medium and long-term: Consolidate the practice of traditional medicine in our villages. It should be affordable for everyone.
After the feedback and testimonials from August, SYBMA treatments completely fit into what we are looking to set up in our villages.
Next step: For our municipality to be more autonomous, could we learn this science? How long does it take and what are the costs?
On behalf of the villagers from the municipality of Thomda Aor, we express our warm gratitude to thank the SYBMA team — Dr. Delphine Armand, Paul Wang, and Lapy Long — for their generous contribution. Without their precious help, nothing would have been possible.
We want to specifically mention Hana Yu at Helio USA for sponsoring our mission with acupuncture supplies. This included thousands of needles, ear tacks, boxes of alcohol swabs and sharps containers. For those who are curious, we primarily used their C&G PLUS Cluster Pack needles (0.25 mm diameter and 40 mm length). Please support this generous company by sourcing your clinical tools and equipment from them.
Besides healthcare, other projects completed in partnership with SOS Cambodian Kids, Tree for Help, and Tourisme Solidaire included the planting of trees, donation of school uniforms, construction and dedication of three drinking wells, and the inauguration of a permanent medical facility. Thanks to members of these amazing organizations for being there with us. The camaraderie was most enjoyable although I wish my Français was more fluent.
Also, deepest gratitude to our mission leaders, Dr. Kimsong Lor, Madame Lor, Bophanara, Kong Kim; to our Western medical colleagues; to the students of Faculté de Pharmacie de Nancy and members of AHNEP: Charlyne Brakta, Justin Pernot, Shadé Floquet, Mathieu Masalski, Ilyès Loutfi, Nawel Loutfi, Quentin Wolff, Anthony Grandmaire, Orianne Moulin, Emeline Mathieu; to our energetic cheerleader Martin Hurel; to Tony Lor who painstakingly filmed and edited a documentary video of the mission; to our brilliant translators, Kaori Aochi, Chenda Kim, and Hour Ea; to the capable and lovable Dorina Hua, Phkar Malis, and Maika Hong; to the warm company of Anne Tévy and Pauline Deplaix; to our friendly drivers with long-distance stamina; to our masterful cooks and the gourmet meals they crafted.
I heartily salute my fellow BMA practitioners in arms, Lapy Lou and Dr. Delphine Armand. I am pleased and proud to have slung so many needles with you beside me. We did great and represented our healing art well. Your cooperation, compassion, and conscientiousness are truly appreciated.
Last but perhaps greatest, we bow to the spirit of our Shifu 師父, Dr. Richard Tan, not only for blessing us with his lineage teachings but also bringing Eileen Han, Delphine Armand and I together. We humbly dedicate any merits gained from this mission to him. It was an honor to carry BMA to Cambodia because he had wished to someday set up similar projects. Because of doubts that acupuncture could be easily integrated into a Western medicine mission, he would have been impressed at our smooth cooperation with the MDs and pharmacists and proud of the respect we received for our instant results. We kept in mind that all the joy and hope we witnessed were thanks to what he taught us. His presence and inspiration were felt in every treatment.
Lest I forget, to you my readers for sharing in this story: Thanks. Arkoun. អរគុណ.
Trailer of Mission Documentary by Tony Lor