As my recent clients will know, I went out to Bosnia with a tool-kit of various modalities I had acquired over the last 12 years, hoping to make use of them as best I could for the benefit of those I was allocated to see. Feeling hampered in recent years by the reluctance of the clinics I worked at to fully promote my work, and political straight jackets preventing many physical therapists working openly with the NHS, here, in contrast, were ready clients lined up and desperate for all the help they could get. SO refreshing. Which skills I would draw from most, I had no idea. I trusted that my inner guidance would show me the way...
Only in a handful of cases was I lucky enough to see the client more than once and so to assess the effectiveness of the session I had given the previous week, but for each client there were case notes and either Nadija or Enisa to make the introduction and to translate the client's current concerns.
My first Client was Bahta. She had taken a grenade blast to the side of her face and lost an eye. She suffered neck pain and constant headaches, due, she said, to her bones not having fully aligned when her face was re-set. Working from her feet, I set about attempting to align the energy running through her bones... all the way to her head and face. I also worked with gentle bio-stress release to relieve her neck and shoulder pain. As she was my first client, I had not yet worked out my way of overcoming the language barrier. I worked intuitively and tears began to roll down her face. At the end, through a translator, she explained that she had been experiencing being totally pain free for the first time since the incident happened... over 21yrs ago. Ten days later I saw her again. She reported having had no more headache, although some of the tension in her shoulder had resurfaced. We worked with Bio-Stress Release again... and again she went home pain-free.
Many clients had been held in concentration camp, raped and/or beaten, often with hands behind their backs. One of these had no movement in her right arm and constant pain in her left arm through over-using it as a result. I worked with her using Bio-Stress Release to release the tension in her left arm and free up the movement in her right arm. Again, I was lucky enough to see her twice. After week one, she reported how the pain had lessened so much that she was able to forget about it during her normal day, and by the end of week two, she left the clinic with no pain what-so-ever and had regained full movement in her right arm. I met her daughter the following day. Fluent in English, she was armed with a barrage of questions as to what, exactly, I had done to effect such a change and to understand which modalities I had used.
Another client, this time a gentleman, had been shot in the hip. He fell onto that side and was then shot by an automatic rifle on the other side, resulting in a line of bullet holes, about an inch apart, all down the outside of his right leg between hip and knee. These scars were deep and although he had evidently received some scar healing work to his left hip from a previous therapist earlier in the year, he had had none to this long line of bullet holes. I worked with an Ayurvedic approach to scar healing on both legs and also to align the bone energy to his hip. He could feel the difference by the end of the session and specifically asked to see me again, if possible. The second week, my main concern was to help align his spine, which resulted in some significant releases, especially to the top of the neck, affecting the entire right side of his body, but I was also amazed to see, as I re-did his scars, that, even after just a week, they had begun to lift - that the bullet holes were no-longer as deep.
The last two days I was there, an amateur photographer came to take photos for a project he was working on. Some of these are below... besides working on Bahta, they also show me working on a lady who had been hit in the hip by a grenade (mortar bomb), whilst crossing a bridge for water. Two women crossing in the opposite direction were also hit. One received a single piece of shrapnel to her heart and died. The other suffered disfigurement to her face. My client took the main force of the blast in her hip and was left an invalid. Seven operations later she has severe scarring, restricting movement to her hip and knee and sensation to her right foot. Working with scar healing and gentle alignment of the energy running through her bones, she reported feeling increased sensation all the way down the right side of her body to her foot.
I'd love to see how these clients are now... but it is the nature of the way with the Healing Hands Network... we leave after two weeks, whilst others come in to continue the work, perhaps from a different angle, but all building to supporting these people through intensely difficult times.
So I'd like to take this opportunity to thank all those who helped me get to Bosnia. Spending a great deal of time last year supporting my parents, with a correspondingly low income, I simply couldn't have done it without your kind and generous support.
This year, I am fully based in Worcestershire, with capacity at present to only take on a handful of specialist clients whilst I care for my parents, so getting to Bosnia is again going to be a challenge. However every little helps. Indeed, just £12.00 will pay for a treatment for someone in Bosnia. Sixty seven such donations will get me on the flight...!
If you'd like to help me go to Bosnia again this year, please check out the link below.
With most grateful and heartfelt thanks, Julia x
On 20th November 2016, Healing Hands Network celebrated its 20th Aniversary. Two of its staff in Bosnia flew over for the occasion, but Nadija was unable to, due to her passport getting lost... gutted, she sent us this letter, to be read out to all wo were present at the AGM the following day...
Dear Healing Hands Network Members and Friends,
First and foremost, I cannot belive I am not able to be there with you to celebrate this important achievement that is twenty years of Healing Hands Network! I feel that I owe everyone an explanation for not being there, so I just wanted to say that my passport got lost in the process of getting a UK visa and that is the reason why I could not travel. I was very much looking forward to seeing everyone and spending some time with all of you.
It makes me very proud and happy to be part of the Healing Hands Network team. What started as a summer job for me fifteen years ago has turned into one of my life’s objectives, which is helping the people of Bosnia. Healing Hands Network treats those who survived the torture of concentration camps during the war and civil war victims. Bosnia has thousands and thousands of those people. Twenty years after the war we still get new clients every year. Our clients are poor, they live on minimum financial help from the government. Bosnia is one of the poorest countries in South-Eastern Europe, an economy in transition going through crises since the end of the war. Most of the people live on the edge of existence and the sad truth is that almost all of our clients belong to this social category. HHN has treated thousands of people and I have been following them for the past 15 years. Our clients are very fortunate to be able to come to our treatments. Every year in February and March I start receiving phone calls from them asking me when our season is starting. According to them, these treatments are the most generous help they receive, because it not only helps them enormously but it is also one of the rare treatments or aids they receive these days. I would just like to say that your generosity, helpfulness and kindness have proved to be very effective over the years and our loyal clients are the best proof for that.
Over the years I have connected deeply with our clients on the one hand and our therapists on the other. Many of our clients became my friends throughout the years and many of our therapists became my mentors and my friends throughout the seasons. One successful season after another, the effective work and our loyal clients and therapists are just a few things to mention that prove that this humanitarian organization continuously provides effective help to those people in Bosnia who suffered the most. It has been 21 years since the war and its consequences have become old news in Bosnia, therefore these people get very little attention these days from local and international institutions. There are very few organizations in Bosnia who are there to help and HHN is one of the very few.
In the last few years, HHN has gone a step further and introduced new treatments and workshops that enable our clients to learn how to help themselves and others. Through these workshops, our clients not only enjoy the time spent in treatment but also learn new techniques that enable them to spread the good and treat their family members and friends. For this, I believe, we can thank our Director Sue Stretton who deserves a big round of applause now! I welcome her in all her efforts to help my people in so many different ways, ranging from Reiki workshops, Breathing technique, various treatments as well as exercise classes that everyone enjoyed.
On behalf of each and every one of our clients from Sarajevo I would like to thank you all for your generosity and helpfulness. Your continuous commitment to helping treat those who truly need it is sincerely appreciated. Your assistance in Bosnia continues to make a huge difference in the lives of those who need it. It is the quality of work that HHN does that keeps our clients and their families alive and happy despite their terrible past experiences.
The Healing Hands Network originated in the aftermath of the Balkan War - the breakup of the former Yugoslavia - and, even now, after 20 years, continues to work in Sarajevo and its six outreach clinics, liaising with local self-help organisations, such as Concentration Camp Union, Civil Victims of War, Mothers of Srebrenica and Women Victims of War, who send their members to HHN for help.
The mental and physical effects of war and torture linger on for generations and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can take years to manifest. Whilst HHN’s services are still very much required in Sarajevo, with your support, it would also like be able to offer its services to other regions of Bosnia that have not yet received any humanitarian help and are still in need.
The Healing Hands Network also works with war veterans and their families in the UK collaborating with veterans’ charities such as SSAFA, Royal British Legion and Combat Stress, attending support groups and Fabcamps to offer therapy to those who may also be suffering from the physical and emotional effects of war and PTSD. HHN has members all over the country, offering a variety of therapies e.g. massage, aromatherapy, reiki, cranio-sacral therapy, reflexology, Bowen and scar healing and is looking to extend its services to make them more widely available. They are currently in discussion with The Royal British Legion with a view to setting up a network of centres in Devon and Cornwall.
Julia is working to establish a Healing Hands Network centre in South Devon and is raising money for a trip to help in Bosnia also. You can read more about the issues in Bosnia by signing up to this Blog on Bosnia, or through her web site at www.essenceoftouch.co.uk. You can offer a donation towards her time in Bosnia through this quick link, here.
Alternatively, you could donate more generally towards the work of the Healing Hands Network. It is a registered charity (No.1080286), their website is www.healinghandsnetwork.org.uk and you can donate towards it's work, both in this country and in Bosnia, by clicking on this link here.
Perhaps you are interested in becoming a member of the Healing Hands Network yourself? If so, either as a supporter or therapist member in the UK, or overseas for a self funded two weeks working in Bosnia, or as a fundraiser, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
Please donate wherever you feel moved; Like, share and spread the word! Many grateful thanks in advance...
Many of the Healing Hands Network clients live solely in charity clothing and donations,
but what is often forgotten about is underwear, which is in short supply.
Going well beyond a daily necessity, and remembering that many of the women who come for treatment are also survivors of rape camps and sexual torture, feminine, yet well-covering underwear can go a long way to bringing back that little bit of personal self esteem...
Fat Face underwear, for example, is all covering and yet feminine and, in my experience, lasts well (no stringy bits hanging off after just two washes)! You may even be tempted to get some for yourself after reading this (even if you don't have a gift token) and, if you are quick, there is a 3 for 2 offer currently running... if you do, could you possibly donate that extra pair to the people of Bosnia?
Any contributions, monetary or in kind, are always most gratefully received... as I write I have, through two most generous donations, now raised 25% of my £800 target but, really, every little helps. Every £11.43 - £13.33 donated, for example, will pay for work with one more client (based on seeing 6-7 clients a day). It would be lovely to have raised this by Christmas and so be able to confirm my place in Bosnia early in the New Year.
If you feel you'd like to donate financially, you can do through MY DONATE, click HERE - and Thank you very much indeed!
If you feel moved to donate some underwear, please call me on 07833545008 to arrange where to send it. I'll be very pleased to hear from you (and will plan to take an extra suitcase in anticipation)!
And "Liking" and "Sharing" helps spread the word, too...
Thank you, with much love, Julia x
Do You Remember Bosnia?
Over 11,000 people were killed during the siege of Sarajevo, including 1,500 children - the bloodiest siege in history - with shells raining down on the capital city, constantly, for four years. Others in the outlying suburbs, were held in concentration or rape camps and still re-live the trauma of that every day.
What if you were under house arrest (that is your home was occupied and you were not permitted to leave)? What if your son had been forced to rape you at gunpoint, and your younger son had been forced to attempt to rape him? What if 27 members of your family had been killed?
What if you had been shot at by snipers whilst crossing the road to get to the stand pipe, or whilst queuing for water? (Many were shot at to maim, rather than to kill, typically in the hip, losing a leg so that they would become a burden but not be able to take up arms).
What if you did survive and you've even been lucky enough to have an artificial limb fitted (now stuffed with plastic carrier bags to try to improve the fit and make it more comfortable)? With no articulating joints from hip to toe and no re-fitting as the stump began to shrink? How much pain do you still carry in your body, from day to day?
Many, however, did not survive. What if DNA testing had eventually found your missing, executed, loved one - in as many as four different graves? What if you have not yet found your husband's body after all these years (thereby proving his murder) and so have not been entitled to any state aid in all this time?
Where would you go to for help when the perpetrators were those you knew, and with whom you had once lived happily side by side?
Yes, it was 20 years ago and, yes, the younger generation, thankfully, doesn't remember, but there are still plenty who do - who still can't sleep at night, who have not spoken a word since, who are maimed or injured and have no income, no livelihood and no-where else to turn.
Operating annually, six months of the year, whilst travel conditions permit, the Healing Hands Network (HHN) is the only humanitarian aid group which still holds a regular presence in Bosnia... the larger charities (and the eyes of the world) have long since withdrawn. HHN does not discriminate by race or creed and, after 20 years of successful operation, now works, during the summer months, from a small clinic in Sarajevo and six outreach locations.
The Healing Hands Network is totally self funded and run by volunteers. All therapists are also volunteers who are flown in to offer their physical, mental and emotional healing gifts. Each one has to raise £800 to fund their travel, accommodation and salaries of three local staff during their two week tour of duty - whilst offering their amazing work for free.
Julia in planning to go out to Bosnia with the Healing Hands Network in Summer of 2017 (the end of this season if finances permit). She'll be offering massage, scar healing, postural alignment, emotional wellbeing, Flower Essences, Reiki and healing at bone level, too. If you'd like to make a donation towards funding her time in Bosnia, you can do so here... She'll also be posting testimonials from some of HHN's clients, information on Bosnia and, when the time comes, a diary of her time in Sarajevo and its six outreach clinics... do sign up to this blog and stay in touch!
HHN operate in Bosnia for six months of the year, liaising with local self help organisations, such as Concentration Camp Union, Civil Victims of War, Mothers of Srebrenica and Women Victims of War, who send their members to HHN for help. These organisations are set up, and run, by the Bosnian people to help the many men and women who found themselves in rape and sexual torture camps.
For more information about the Healing Hands Network, check out www.healinghands.co.uk