Healing Hands Network
Dedicated to bringing relief to those affected by war and its aftermath
Healing Hands Network (HHN) was founded 21 years ago by three therapists who were concerned about the war in former Yugoslavia and the Balkans. This was a genocide and ethnic cleansing that went on for four years and involved the executions, rape and torture of thousands of civilians who were living harmoniously together previously. The Siege of Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia, was one of the longest and bloodiest sieges in history. Many were confined in concentration and rape camps, lost several family members, received ballistic injuries and loss of limbs due to grenade and land mine blasts and had to flee as their homes were burnt down.
These three women went to Sarajevo as soon as the Peace Treaty was signed and planes began to fly in again, mostly military ones. They went to offer help, their hands. HHN was born although they didn’t know it at the time! The charity has survived and flourished and HHN still are working in Sarajevo and the outlying villages in Bosnia as wounds and traumas such as these physical and emotionally take years to heal, over generations. Who would have thought 21 years later we would still be there, still be busy in our clinic and outreaches and still be seeing people who are suffering trauma who are seeking help for the first time? We are the only humanitarian aid still there, who have been there from the beginning and have a constant presence for six months of the year between May and the end of October.
We send two therapists every weekend over to Sarajevo and have a rolling presence of up to four there at our house and clinic. These volunteers stay for two weeks and give their services to our client base. We also run workshops for self-help in relaxation and breathing techniques, basic massage, exercise, Reiki and understanding trauma and effects of stress which are really well received and also help empower the people to help themselves and family. Our volunteer therapist members each fundraise to pay £800 for their two weeks travel, accommodation and subsistence, our rent and translators in Sarajevo. In special circumstances, they can go for a week for £575.
We have our own clinic in Sarajevo and each day we also travel to one of five outreach venues. We have a co-ordinator and two translators who work for us during our season, both native Sarajevan women.
The experience is often described as life changing by therapists and really hones skills. Our clients in Sarajevo benefit so much from receiving the variety of therapies on offer - massage, aromatherapy, sports massage, cranio-sacral therapy, reiki, shiatsu, acupuncture, Indian Head Massage, Reflexology and other mainstream certifiable and insurable therapies.
We ran an Emotional Freedom Technique clinic for two weeks in 2017 with great success, with 26 clients receiving intensive help enabling them to shift some huge trauma. We will repeat it again this year and also plan to run a two week Reiki attunement which together with the EFT clinic will empower and enable people to help themselves and family especially when we are not there.
Would you be able to offer your time? Please email Director Sue Stretton for more information on how to join HHN. Our membership fee £35 per year which includes newsletters, induction workshops and the AGM, plus invitations to further training workshops and social events such as the annual Winter Gala Dinner and Summer Barbecue.
UK Forces Project
HHN also run a UK project to help veterans of the army, navy, air force and Marines who are suffering the effects of combat and may have PTSD and emotional and physical trauma. We collaborate with other charitable organisations such as the Royal British Legion, Combat Stress and SSAFA amongst others. HHN attends support groups and drop-in meetings and also helps individuals if we can work safely with them. We also work with organisations that provide housing for veterans and their families, including Ghurkas.
There are several areas in the UK where there are people needing this help but no volunteer therapists so we need to recruit quite urgently. We need massage, reflexology, Bowen, craniosacral, fascia work and other similar mainstream hands-on modalities for these sites.
Areas that we particularly need some cover for are Norfolk, East Anglia, Essex, Cornwall, South Devon, but generally most areas too.
Equally, if you are aware of any groups that meet and who might benefit from our attendance then please contact us as we are always looking for new venues to link in with.
These groups are usually held monthly and attendance is divided between the number of volunteers, so it may only be one day once every three to four months that commitment is needed, so they are easy to fit in for most people. However, if your availability was different we could work around it. Time is given freely but we can re-imburse legitimate travel costs.
This project is ideal for members who cannot travel to Sarajevo regularly. Many members do cover both projects, some only can work in the UK but all are equally valuable and welcome so please if you are thinking of volunteering and want to use your skills effectively in a proven way with a proven charity that has a great infrastructure then please get in touch with us for more information at the address below.
If you can’t help with any of the above and want to make a contribution, we are always happy for people to help with events, fundraising and promoting awareness and profile.
If you have found this article interesting or it has touched you in any way, and you would like to help us by donating, fundraising, offering skills or volunteering your time in the UK or overseas then please contact us for an application form or download one from our website.
phone: 07815 628372 (manned voluntarily so please leave a message if not answered straight away.)
Write: HHN Admin, 151 Fillongley Road, Meriden, West Midlands CV7 7LT.
Healing Hands Network is run entirely by volunteers and all money donated goes to the cause. To expand takes volunteer time and money so please help if you can.