As an international traveler, I constantly push myself out of my comfort zone. Most of the time to save money I either stay in hostels, with friends or even stay with people I don’t know using couchsurfing. I have had the traveling bug since I was a young girl, thanks to my parents who traveled often throughout Latin America. However, my world changed when I opted to study abroad in Spain for 2 months as an exchange student. Before my study abroad I traveled with my sister for 2 weeks throughout the north of Spain. It was amazing. Since then I have found numerous opportunities to pack up my backpack and take off somewhere new with little planning other than a plane ticket and at least 1 main destination. In 2007 I took traveling to another level when I combined it with service work as a volunteer with the Peace Corps. Almost every year I’m off to a new country or state offering my services and learning about a new place and its people. It’s almost an addiction and keeps my gypsy heart happy.
My newest travels have taken me to Ometepe, Nicaragua and I have now been here a little over a month as an intern at a naturopathic clinic through the non-profit Natural Doctor’s International (NDI). The clinic is based in a primarily agricultural town called Los Angeles and offers free natural health medicine and psychology to the people of Ometepe of over 45,000 people. However, during my time here the naturopathic doctor* (didn’t know what that was until I arrived) had just moved to the capital city, Managua, with his family and so was taking a break from the island. I opted to arrive before my volunteer stint of 3 months to participate in a 10-day global health brigade working with him, 5 naturopathic students, a psychologist, and another naturopathic doctor serving over 100 patients in 4 days. It was an amazing experience to see the collaboration between physical and mental health using natural remedies.
Since the brigade ended, I have been working with Lilliam, the organization’s psychologist in her numerous activities within the Diosa (Goddess) community empowerment program. We have naturally been combining our skills; hers are counseling and Bach Flowers therapy and mine are counseling with energy healing work. Our work includes seeing clients Mondays at the local hospital and Tuesdays the clinic. As part of my commitment to heart centered individuals I’m blessed to also offer energy healing and meditation to the hospital staff individually and in-group sessions. Overall, it’s been super gratifying although the heat has been intense as they don’t have air conditioning and yet I’m grateful for the recent repair of the overhead fan in the office I work in.
For patients that rarely receive energy work, although some have received acupuncture and massage when it’s available when the brigades come, all are so open minded and willing to receive a stress release session. I’ve been using color therapy, magnet, aromatherapy, and Reiki. I have seen some amazing transformations after only 1 session. For example, one patient who had never been to a psychologist was sent to me at the hospital for issues with nerves (anxiety attacks). She admitted she was scared of almost everything and caused her family to feel edgy and annoyed with her. After one session she stated that most of her fears had dissipated and she felt so much more relaxed.
Most of the health issues I am seeing are so similar to clients I work with back home; digestive issues; long-term grief, holding on to feelings, issues with loved ones, fears about moving forward in life, etc. However, one of the issues I’m dealing more with are men cheating on their significant others yet they become upset if the women state that they need to choose, them or their infidelities. Some women are well aware of it and says it doesn’t bother them (although their health issues are showing otherwise) and other women are unsure what to do because they are financially dependent on their husbands). The psychological abuse and often childhood trauma of sexual abuse or molestation is also highly prevalent. So many are extremely grateful to have someone they can speak honestly with for many have never spoken to their traumas to anyone. We work on identifying solutions and of course receiving energy healing to assist them in releasing their emotional wounds. These are the cases I most often debrief with Lilliam because it’s so challenging to hear the disrespect these women experience daily.
Each Wednesday we visit a different community health center to meet with their pregnant women’s club along with a dentist, a nutritionist, and the psychologist. In the club we discuss a theme (September) was on the benefits of Moringa, (Marango in Nicaragua) a tree that offers numerous vitamins especially increase in lactating women. After the discussion the women meet individually with each of the above health professionals.
This is truly community care support at its best as these are services that are all offered for free. Granted the medical equipment and conditions are sparse yet health care is an important virtue of the socialist government of improving the health needs of the people most of which are very poor. The government is focused on increasing maternal health and decreasing infant death. However, one of Nicaragua’s biggest issues is teen pregnancy, which is not going down, and unfortunately many of the teens are not coming to the pregnant women clubs.
Thursdays, I primarily work with my clients in the United States and administration work within my business, especially my upcoming online chakra course. However, sometimes I also lead self-care and meditation groups at the local community centers and the hospital on Thursdays and Fridays. Fridays are office days for the most part if we’re not teaching. Yet we have gone to offer self-care and meditation groups in community organizations to heart-centered individuals.
Saturdays and Sundays are my fun and adventure days. One weekend I rented a scooter and traveled around the island on my own. Another weekend I went horseback riding and climbing up a non-active volcano. I have also had “beach” days and sightseeing days.
Overall, my time in Nicaragua has involved numerous a-ha moments, as I’m more inspired about my work and purpose. I’m finding my work-life balance by ensuring I have fun and adventurous days. Mornings I wake up with the sunrise and focus on me time as I write, meditate, and do core exercises. I also spend time with my host family and community members.
I’m thankful for this opportunity here as I for me it takes stepping out of my comfort zone (and air conditioning) to reawaken the light flowing through me as I can get back to basics. Being of service in developing countries is such a gift that I truly enjoy. As September ended I had the opportunity to teach 11 community professionals Reiki 1 sponsored by Diosa and my business. For many it was the first time they ever heard of it and for all it is a new tool they can use for their self-care. They are looking forward to Reiki 2 in a couple of months. In December I’ll be returning to Miami to spend the holidays with my family and then celebrate new year’s offering energy healing sessions and classes at a music festival (my fun zone).
Being of service is to focus on one’s feminine traits, which is about giving to others in a loving and compassionate way. Service work is a combination of sacral and heart chakra as it focuses on creativity, passion, and compassion for others.
What’s your way of being of service? How do you like to give back to communities?
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Blessings and health,
Paty Hernandez, Chakraholic and Gypsy Energy Healer. MSW, MPH, CHC