Volunteer therapists (l. to r.): Silvia Cebrian, Vera Gondim,, Julieta Stenzel. Simone Rocha, Maria Luiza Lacerda, Celina Soares, Flavia Andriollo
Editor’s note: This is a report written by Vera Gondim, a flower essence practitioner and teacher in Brazil. After the devastating and disastrous floods in the country, she and an already well-organized social service group of flower essence practitioners went to deliver flower essence therapy to those in need of emotional support.
One excellent outcome of all this good work on the part of the flower essence therapists was that they were asked to maintain a permanent presence at the Centre for Citizenship in the Valley of Cuiabá; they received overwhelming support from the doctors, nurses, physiotherapists and social workers with whom they had worked doing emergency care.
This report has been edited and shaped for presentation, with translation and other help from Ruth Toledo Altschuler.
To learn more about the January, 2011 Brazilian flood disaster, read a moving account by environmentalist José Francisco Matulja (pictured at left). The page also includes contemporary news video clips of the disaster.
We had an important meeting in Friburgo, with individuals representing the municipalities affected, the State and the Federal Government. We received this invitation in light of the testimony of the Coordinator of Mental Health of Petrópolis, Célia Maria Machado, at the last meeting, which stated that the situation in Petropolis is very calm, thanks to the performance of a team of Volunteer Flower Essence Practitioners, who are doing an effective job of caring for the victims.
There were altogether seven therapists from Petropolis, one from Areal (one of the municipalities that we are supporting), five therapists from Rio (representatives Rioflor and of CONAFLOR, and UFRJ, the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro) and one from Friburgo.
Our coordinator of Mental Health for the Municipality of Petrópolis gave an explanation of what is happening in the city, and how important Flower Essence Therapy has been in caring for the victims through the organized and efficient work offered by the team of Volunteer Flower Essence Practitioners that was created.
Rosangela Teixeira (at right), president of Rioflor, spoke about Flower Essence Therapy and the help and support that this work has received from and through Rioflor, with national and international practitioners, researchers and supporters sending help from all over Brazil. Rioflor had a very special role in backing all this work as an entity representing Flower Essence Practitioners. They have helped to organize the activities, the donations, meetings in different areas also struck by the disaster, giving support, and connecting all the volunteers.
Jurema Gouvea spoke representing UFRJ, and Lizete de Paula spoke as a representative of CONAFLOR, noting the approval of a State Law, in which Flower Essence Therapy now has its place.
On behalf of the group of Volunteer Flower Essence Practitioners of Petropolis, I (Vera Gondim at left) initially gave an explanation showing that Flower Essence Therapy is highly structured in Brazil: we have class representative bodies at national, provincial and municipal levels. Flower Essence Therapy has its place in University Courses (IBEHE and USP, S. Paulo, UERJ initially, and later at UFRJ, in Rio). It is also part of the Graduate Course in Nursing at USP, the São Paulo University, the most respected in the country. It also officially was inserted in the SUS (public health service) as a Complementary Therapy, by State Law, submitted by state Rep. Pandeló Agnes (Lizete distributed a copy of the Official Paper in which laws were announced).
I explained that at the time of the calamity in Petropolis, Flower Essence Therapy was already perfectly organized and active, with a whole infrastructure of volunteer service set up and functioning, offering social care work since 1993, having done 7,463 sessions in recent years. It is an activity that has been entirely self-sustaining, using only a volunteer workforce of flower essence practitioners. This service is maintained through donations, that allow for the preparation of essences for all the children involved in the programs. For over a decade, there has been an informal partnership between the city and this service, with referrals of students in public schools for treatment by the Flower Essence Therapy Assistance Center for the People. This has been functioning for over 10 years in a space offered by the Franciscan Order of Petropolis within the Pastoral Health Clinic.
The fact that this network of social service already existed and had been in operation for 18 years has allowed for a rapid deployment of therapists for immediate assistance to the victims of the disaster that happened in the mountain region 28 days ago. In just 15 days, the group of Volunteer Flower Essence Practitioners of Petropolis has been able to offer service to 956 individuals.
Our current team, especially assembled for the calamity, has 21 therapists that were divided into groups with the following tasks: proper sterilization of dropper bottles, preparation of flower essence combinations, seeing people at the Centre for Citizenship, in shelters and care homes that welcomed the homeless, as well as offering care in other cities (Areal, São José do Vale do Rio Preto, and eventually Sumidouro). In order to help the ones farther a field, we are now starting to provide pre-prepared combinations for Teresopolis, where there is shortage of local practitioners available to work in the region (there are only two therapists working in that area). In fifteen days, about 1,300 bottles of flower essence combinations have been prepared.
We received donations of bottles, labels, preservative and essences, with the help of a true international network, which came together in the light of these events.
We're offering help to rescue volunteers and caregivers in general (from tractor drivers, that have been unearthing bodies of missing people, to staff that is part of the teams recovering bodies, doctors, nurses, health workers, social workers, municipal guards, officers of the Air Force and Army). We have also offered care to children and adults as well as homeless animals.
To illustrate the nature of the work we have been offering, I shared that one day at the Centre for Citizenship, a uniformed Air Force Officer arrived, asking in a firm and serious way for a flower essence practitioner on duty, and asked that she follow her (the poor practitioner thought she would be arrested). She claimed that officer Rita wanted to see her. The therapist went into the room where Major Rita was in a meeting with several other uniformed officers. Major Rita introduced herself and said she was taking flower essences and wanted all of that group to also take essences! The therapist (relieved) has already met all the officers and given each one of them a flower essence combination. This kind of situation has happened repeatedly. At all times, we have been sought by city police officers or military officers saying they wanted "those drops", because their colleagues had said they were performing miracles for them.
It was explained in the introduction that the practitioners know well the limits of their performance, being well aware of when it is necessary to discern and refer people to professionals in other fields such as doctors, psychologists and psychiatrists. Our work runs parallel to the actions of other professionals, and does not replace other treatment modalities.
We mentioned the symptoms that usually appear in this type of disaster situation, and explained how Flower Essence Therapy can help in such cases. It was also mentioned that, thanks to the Flower Essence Therapy work provided in Petropolis, there were no cases of suicide or suicide attempts recorded during this period, contrary to what is happening in other municipalities. There is also no record in Petropolis of the typical Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome, and this was readily confirmed by the Mental Health Coordinator of the Municipality of Petrópolis, who sees this as being a result of the work done by flower essence practitioners.
During the presentation, it was mentioned that many people who have been helped by the essences are already out of the impact phase and are already thinking about rebuilding their lives.
All of this work that is being done has been volunteer work, at no cost to the municipality, the State and the Union, and a simple result of the dedication and availability of the practitioners and the support from the vast network of solidarity and assistance that was formed in Brazil and around the world.
Finally, I stated that the success and merit of this work is due to the tireless performance of the team as a whole, a team that works with the same level of commitment, each one doing their part, revealing a true network of service in which each part is equally important and essential.
We feel that the presentation of our work pleased and thrilled many people present but, on the other hand, seemed to bother some people, and this was related to the degree of difficulty of effective action experienced by government agencies under these horrible conditions, in places where the will to act found no supportive structures, especially in Friburgo. The coordinator of Mental Health of this city, before our presentation, shared that she had a totally non functioning structure, and did not even have a single vehicle available to bring the psychologists to where they could offer support for the victims. While the government has difficulties starting action, a volunteer group of therapists, moved by simple love and compassion for human beings, quickly articulated and accomplished, in just 15 days, a quality of responsible work serving 958 people. We can understand that some people may not like to hear this...
We ended our participation in the meeting very happy, not only because we have been able to provide a great service to people in need of such help, but also feeling that we can serve as an inspiration for the formation of other groups with similar ideals, guided by similar principles, especially one of unconditional love.
We want to reaffirm the immense value of the work of Dr. Bach and Flower Essence Therapy as a major transformative agent of awareness, and a beautiful instrument we have in hand to alleviate human pain and suffering.
We also want to thank the Coordinator of Mental Health of Petrópolis, Célia Maria Machado, for believing in our work and for opening the doors and space for us to act and show how Flower Essence Therapy can help in situations like this. She noted: “Flower essences have been a great ‘accomplishment’ in this time of so much sadness.”
This is not a victory for our group, but for the whole “Flower” of Flower Essence Therapy, and all the people that make up this beautiful web of light, and who support us in every way, both near and far away. To all these people, our deepest gratitude!
As the coordinator of the group of therapists, I thank FES very much for your support in this
terrible situation, giving us the marvelous flower essences to help people to reconstruct their
lives. We are using Spiritual Leadership and World Service in the Volunteers Formula. We are
using Post-Trauma Stabilizer for the victims, at the first moment, and the marvelous Echinacea,
Bleeding Heart and Borage at the second moment (in the Reconstruction Formula we created). We
are also using Mariposa Lily and Zinnia for the children, and Animal Relief Formula for the animals.
• I went on Sunday morning and followed the secretary of health’s team along with the doctors, nurses and social workers in the van that went to the shelters. We were talking and the driver reported that he was taking flower essences and had slept well after several days. The nurse wanted a bottle because she felt too tired.
• ... an old woman with hypertension was very ill, really taken down...and she was given the disaster / emergency formula. A few days later she and a floral therapist returned to the site and this lady said: "The flower essences saved my life." Her blood pressure had normalized and this lady was more lively and helping to care for others.
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