I recently learned of the Buds to Blossoms program in Cambodia, which helps nurture AIDS orphans near rural Phnom Penh. Here is the Program Description, as seen on their website. "Several times a year Buds to Blossoms brings international teams of volunteers to a rural orphanage in Cambodia that is home to over 200 children with HIV and AIDS. There the volunteers work and live as members of the community providing gentle massage and nurturing attention to the children to foster their health, well-being and development.
Because HIV and AIDS carry a heavy stigma in Cambodia, many of the children faced discrimination and were outcasts in their communities before arriving at the orphanage. A number of them were also abused, neglected, abandoned, raped, prostituted or sold into slavery.
Massage is of particular value to these children because its proven immune system-strengthening effect may improve their compromised health. The relief massage brings from pain and anxiety may also increase their quality of life.
During this program volunteers receive basic instruction in massage for children and learn to share a rich palette of nurturing interactions including improvisational play, singing, and storytelling blended with gentle touch that communicate to children they are safe, loved, valued, and respected. The work we do flows naturally from our capacity to reach out to others with warmth. While experience with children and massage may be helpful, it is not required for participation in these programs. You can begin learning to do basic massage with children during our orientation gatherings and program activities even if you have no background in massage.
Although most of our work is non-technical, volunteers with specialized pediatric massage training are needed to care for several children at the orphanage who, in addition to being HIV positive, have special needs and medical conditions including physical disabilities and mental disorders. Infant massage educators are needed to provide lessons to professional caregivers of orphaned babies with HIV. And because many of the children's caregivers have chronic muscular tension, volunteers with technical massage expertise including deep tissue training are also needed."
I wanted to pass this along to my fellow LMTs and also to the greater community of Williamsburg. I feel like this is a very worthy way of spending a week off from work this summer. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Cambodia, and I am planning a trip again! I would love company, please contact me if you'd like to go too!
Rachel Beider, LMT