Si Yuan Balance Method Medical Mission #2
Return to the Kingdom of Cambodia in August 2017
In addition to our classes on Si Yuan Balance Method Acupuncture (SYBMA), Bazi (Three Essentials), and Cultivation (Gongfa), Si Yuan has also completed two humanitarian missions to Cambodia in 2016 and 2017. The following is a report on our second trip there to administer SYBMA.
For over two years, Si Yuan has been grateful and honored to travel around the globe to instruct the Balance Method according to the wishes of our Master. Through this educational work, we have gotten to know thousands of wonderful practitioners worldwide. In fact, it is from our classes that we have met the individuals who made our medical missions possible. That includes Dr. Kimsong Lor of SOS Cambodian Kids (SOSCK), who first invited Si Yuan to Cambodia in 2016, as well as the practitioners who have come along to help us treat patients.
During our second year, we returned to the Kingdom of Cambodia with SOSCK which included professional medical doctors, pharmacists, pharmacy students from the AHNEP organization at the University of Nancy, a dentist, and a dental assistant. We were proud that the following acupuncture volunteers travelled to represent Si Yuan:
- Lapy Long (Switzerland)
- Eveline Brülisauer (Switzerland)
- Junji Takarabe (Australia)
- Kurt Suter (Switzerland)
- Serge Chalon (Dominican Republic)
- Adrian Schmid (Switzerland)
- Priska Frei (Switzerland)
They not only gave precious time but also funded their own trip to Cambodia. This investment paid off in greater skills and clinical confidence applying SYBMA — not to mention the direct relief of hundreds of suffering Khmer people.
This year, we travelled to four different sites. First was the campus of a Catholic seminary in Phnom Penh Thmei, second was the rural Tram Khnar health center (Takeo province), third was the rural Kaheng Taor health center (Kampong Speu province), fourth was the referral hospital of Battambang province.
- We kicked off the 2017 mission at the Catholic seminary which was very well-equipped. Our entire personnel of over 50 people among SOSCK and Si Yuan worked inside a large auditorium. There was a large stage upon which we set up about 4 rows consisting of 15 plastic chairs each as our makeshift acupuncture clinic. It felt like we were giving a performance! After the patient intake by the pharmacy students, many were sent up to us for acupuncture. One by one they filled up our seats as our acupuncturists took care of them. It was overwhelming at first, but soon we found a good flow and by the end of the day had done 150 SYBMA treatments.
The next day was much the same, except we had even more patients. Most of them came for pain in different body parts, arthritis, digestive problems, post-stroke, stress, and sleeping issues. Because of the heat as well as dehydration, hunger, and exhaustion, an above average number of patients fainted. However, all fully recovered within 10-15 minutes after we removed needles, gave water, and repositioned them more supine. It was a great feeling to experience how our acupuncturists and assistants worked so well together as a functional unit. Often we would walk around to see and ask how we treated our patients. This kind of collaboration is both fun and informative.
Another valuable aspect of the mission was social. Over communal meals and long rides, we enjoyed connecting to everyone from different cultural, linguistic, and professional backgrounds. Just like our first year, we ended treating many of our fellow humanitarian members. Wherever we go, SYBMA generates a lot of curiosity and interest. This usually quickly leads to a circle of first-time acupuncture patients relaxing wherever there is space, be it a hotel lobby, a outdoor courtyard, local restaurants, and even moving vehicles. Acupuncture is so versatile that you can do it almost in any setting. You just need clean needles and willing souls!
- Our subsequent treatment sites were at health centers in rural areas. At the Tram Khnar health center the main building was occupied by the pharmacy and dental practitioners. We took over the adjoining area which was cover by several huge outdoor tents. Our working capacity was similar if not more than at the seminary. Part of this was because our translators developed more facility. Another reason is because some of our acupuncturists learned how to say a most important phrase in Khmer, “Where is your pain?” With that one question, and the indication of symptomatic anatomical regions by the patient, we were able to successfully initiate treatments. Such is the power of Acupuncture 1, 2, 3.
Patients ranged in age from kids 8 or 9 years old to elders in their seventies. Most were in lower socioeconomic status, but some appeared well to do. Most lived in neighboring communities, but other trekked from afar. As the word got out about our medical services, more patients came in for treatment. This allowed us to see multiple cases of the same conditions. What this also meant is that we could get creative and experiment with alternative treatment options. For instance, instead of always choosing the elbow to mirror the knee, we could use the hand joints or the scalp. This type of flexibility is easier to develop when you see a high volume of patients, which is the reality on our Si Yuan medical missions.
- An underappreciated aspect of humanitarian work is dealing with logistical issues. That frequently involves a measure of interaction with local authorities to discuss the nature and value of our mission. During this 2017 trip, we had the opportunity to meet with the Cambodian Deputy Minister of Health. He was gracious enough to offer us an audience and listen to a presentation of our medical activities. Getting his endorsement was an important support. We even introduced him to Balance Method Acupuncture!
- Our final treatment site was in Battambang, which is about five hours north of Phnom Penh.
Lapy had a relative who was connected to a hospital there. Before we started our clinic shifts in their facility, we took a day off to enjoy some attractions. This included a hike to a mountaintop Buddhist temple protected by statues of Naga sacred serpents.
It was near a cave out of which many thousands of bats stream out to feed on flying insects at dusk.
- Most unique was a lake that featured a tiny island. As if floating out in the middle of nowhere, a lone tree stood surrounded by countless flowering lotus plants. These held seeds which our oarsman harvested for us to partake. The fresh, nutty, sweet, but slightly bitter flavor and crunchy texture was quite pleasing to the palette.
Speaking of, we also had the chance to taste fried crickets, beetles, and frogs. These are supposedly traditional delicacies although some of us preferred to stick with the delicious ripe dragonfruit, coconut, and durian. We also learned that the best food were at restaurants with no English menus.
Another special moment was our visit to a highly regarded monk. Upon visiting him, we were welcomed with a holy water blessing for smooth travels. Everyone received a bracelet which he ritually empowered with mantras and breath. All of us felt a genuine affinity towards the gentle but strong presence of this senior monk. Even though didn’t spend very long at his temple, our farewell was somehow emotional and touching. He must have affected us with a spiritual tuneup. Indeed the rest of our mission and journey home went smoothly.
- Thus recharged, we resumed our clinical shifts at the hospital. It was a relative paradise. Not only was our team given exclusive use of a treatment room, but we had air conditioning! That saved us quite a volume of sweating. We felt spoiled by the respite from the heat and humidity. There was enough space for us to take 20-30 patients at a time.
Meanwhile, there were many others lined up outside our door waiting for their turn.
- By the second day, this queue was so impressive that the hospital director himself came in to see what the commotion was about. He was rather happy about the patient response to acupuncture and arranged to have a meeting with us.
After three days at his hospital, we had a positive follow-up discussion with him about formalizing future Si Yuan missions on the premises. This was a promising lead to set up a more permanent future program for SYBMA clinical training.
On our next trip there, we hope to move forward in that direction.
We would like to thank all the acupuncturists and assistants who joined Si Yuan on this 2018 humanitarian mission. They worked very hard, always with a smile!
Our 2018 team treated more than 1300 patients, 60% suffering from local disorders, 30% from both local and internal, 10% from internal disorders only. Among local disorders, most frequent were back, knee, as well as finger and toe pain. Among internal disorders, most frequent were digestive, respiratory and neurological disorders.
This time again, we bow to the spirit of our Shifu 師父, Dr. Richard Tan. His courage, enthusiasm, dedication and joy were a constant inspiration for all of us.
Before closing up this report, there is a particular case worth mentioning. We were given permission to venture beyond our acupuncture clinic to the maternity ward. There we happened to see a lady who seemed to be in labor. The nurse confirmed it had already been 48 hours but she had not yet been able to deliver.
- She was in pain despite the use of oxytocin. Convinced of the proven efficacy of acupuncture, we suggested that our treatment may be of benefit to this pregnant woman. After getting approval from the attending physician, we immediately sprang into action. Within 5 minutes we had inserted needles that imaged the uterus and genitals of the expectant mother. After 10-15 minutes, she began to have contractions and dilated. The midwives and nurses quickly check for the heartbeat of the baby to no avail. There was immediate urgency. Since it was already crowning, the doctor was called in to initiate delivery.
- Tension filled the atmosphere despite the rapid action. Suction was applied to the baby and within several minutes she was pulled out of the womb. However, her skin was pale purple and gradually darkening. She was limp and silent. This did not look good at all. But then suddenly as if awoken by lightning, a loud cry sounded out. Everyone let out a collective sigh of relief and some of us even cried along with the newborn. Soon the baby was cleaned. Fluid was withdrawn from her mouth. In less than ten minutes, daughter and mother was reunited by skin to skin contact. Both were exhausted and fell asleep together in no time. We like to take some credit for helping to deliver the first Si Yuan baby.
We look forward to witnessing more amazing experiences to come.
A few Words from our Acupuncture Practitioners
“In the beginning I was scared and thought i’m way over my head, but then thanks to Delphine and Paul I got into it and learned a lot of new tricks, ways of treating and experience. I‘m very thankful for everything I was able to accomplish on this mission.”
“We can see so many different type of patient condition. We can improve our skills. Meeting another practitioners who live another countries and develop a good relationship. Meeting beautiful Cambodia people they make me happy. We seen 120 people a per day so its be come use to see many clients (average 20 to 40 clients per practitioner). We are achieving to finish the mission together and its great feeling when we finished. Simply 123 works for so may type of condition. We can see how another practitioner treat. No matter how many patient see a day, important is client result. Learning their culture, language, food and religion. Learning how to deal with difficult situation.”
“To work with the Si Yuan team (Delphine and Paul) is a great experience.
To treat so many people during the mission is really a good training to improve the balance Methode and also the acupuncture abilities.
To learn more about the country and the people living there, work with local people and in a international team.”
“They can improve so much in every way, as acupuncturist and in live as human. They can see other perspectives and how lucky we are that we can do what we do.”
- Our gratitude goes to all the medical team of the referral hospital of Battambang.
They not only welcomed us in their facility, but also organized all patient appointments and provided translators.
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.