Healing Hands Network.

Dedicated to bringing relief to those affected by war and its aftermath.

Let me introduce you to Healing Hands Network- a unique UK based self-funding charity made up of Holistic and Complementary Therapists carrying out humanitarian work overseas and in the UK.

In the 1990's Diane Hemming, a qualified holistic massage therapist, had been following the newsreels showing footage of the Yugoslav war, the Siege of Sarajevo, Srebrenica, concentration camps, massacres and genocide. The Dayton Accord was being signed to bring the war to an end in 1996, bullets still flying and explosions in the distance, when she made the decision to travel to Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina and see what she could do to help the survivors of this dreadful conflict, she took just her hands to offer help and comfort. Di knocked on the doors of the hospitals, barracks, people's houses and generally walked the streets amongst the rubble and ruins asking if she could do anything. She returned home and told her close friends what she was doing and two others joined her on the next visit. HHN was born.

18 years later we are still there, although our organisation is very different to those early days.

Member looking down on a cemetery and Sarajevo from the hillside.

Each weekend between April and October we send at least 2 therapists over to Sarajevo to work a 2-week tour of duty, offering holistic and complementary therapies to those affected and suffering the effects of war and its aftermath. They work Monday to Friday for each of the 2 weeks giving treatments to people who have been in concentration camps, rape camps, survived house arrest, been under siege, sustained injuries from snipers or bombs, lost close and extensive family members and witnessed unthinkable atrocities along with lack of food, water and communications with the outside world.

We have our own clinic in Sarajevo and each day we also travel to one of 5 outreach venues. We have a co-ordinator and 2 translators who work for us during our season, both native Sarajevan women.

Outreach work set up and ready to go.

This season we performed 2,300 treatments on our clients in Bosnia which is amazing work. Each member therapist who travels overseas for us needs to fundraise to pay their way. This is currently £800 which includes flights, taxis, accommodation general food and running costs. The experience is often described as life changing 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 2 weeks this year 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 2 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.

After 18 years we anticipated we would be withdrawing our services assuming we would have done as much as we could, but we had 65 new clients come forward for help this year. PTSD is slow burn and often manifests years after the event, and it appears we are approaching a peak so still have a huge workload. We have nearly 500 clients on our books in Sarajevo, sent to us by local support associations who try and look after them and their needs. We are the only humanitarian aid still present in the country.

Clients waiting for treatments.

We are desperately trying to raise funds to enable us to expand further in Bosnia as we are being approached by other associations to help their members as our reputation grows. Women Victims of War is one such charity and is made up of women and men who suffered rape and sexual abuse and torture and want our help for their 4,500+  members next year. They have groups all over Bosnia and we need to recruit new members and raise money to enable this to happen as soon as possible.

UK Forces Project.

We launched our work in the UK with veterans of the armed forces and their families 3 years ago, after several years of trying to get it off the ground. We are delighted to say we now link in with Combat Stress at several of their veteran support groups, SSAFA working supporting families and Fabcamps who take bereaved armed forces families and children away for a weeklong activity holiday.

Holistic Health Exhibition NEC Birmingham.

In the UK we are being sought by other charities to liaise with them in helping veterans and their families- our effectiveness and the benefits of regular complementary therapies is being seen. To grow and develop here we also need funding to continue this amazing work. We receive no state, European or corporate funding at present and are totally self-funding.

Our members who cannot travel for 2 weeks to Bosnia often volunteer to offer their skills periodically in this country. Some of our members help in both projects and others help by supporting us with exhibitions, promotions, talks, fundraising and raising awareness.

Membership costs £30 a year. We have regular newsletters, workshops and AGM. Anyone can join us to help our work, non therapist membership enables people to show support if they haven't got the skills to do therapies, businesses can sponsor a members travel, a flight or pay a months' rent or similar and payroll giving and matched giving is something we are investigating to develop further this year.

We are desperately trying to raise funds to enable us to expand further in Bosnia as we are being approached by other associations to help their members as our reputation grows. Women Victims of War is one such charity and is made up of women and men who suffered rape and sexual abuse and torture and want our help for their 4,500+  members next year. They have groups all over Bosnia and we need to recruit new members and raise money to enable this to happen as soon as possible.

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 -

www.healinghandsnetwork.org.uk.

email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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 manpower and money so please help if you can.