On to Jacmel

April 3, 2013

By James S. Gordon MD

Jacmel, a seaside town famous for its crafts, is a three hour drive south across the mountains. At the side of the road are chickens, donkeys and the occasional stray dog, behind them banks of vegetables in stalls; overhead, blue, purple, pink, and orange flowers, and, beyond, ranks of mountains marching off toward the horizon.

In 2010-2011 we trained 120 clinicians, educators, and religious leaders in Port-au-Prince. In 2012, we began the work in Jacmel with an equal number of community leaders drawn from towns and cities all the way to Les Cayes, two hours away. They completed the Advanced Training last November and have begun to use their skills in classrooms and hospitals, with individuals and families, vegetable sellers, storekeepers, and farmers who come together in town squares. Our Port-au-Prince leadership team has been supervising them individually, by phone, and in monthly two-day visits.



Fifty of the Jacmel trainees, a remarkable turnout at fairly short notice on a workday, come to a program that Linda and I are leading. They sit in a circle, the bright white shirts of priests punctuating the many colors of teachers’, nurses’, and psychologists’ shirts and dresses. We discuss a dozen ways to use soft belly breathing: to invite sleep or quiet nerves before an exam, or take some distance from the nightmares that still wake so many in this area. A teacher shares a recurring dream of fire coming to consume her family. We work with images of water to cool it, and explore potential dialogues with this disturbing symptom, and ways to move the body to free her from the nighttime paralysis. And then, of course, we shake and dance. Afterwards, quiet now, we consult with the internal Wise Guides who are so warmly welcomed by our eager, imaginative participants.