Pisté Foundation Vision and Actions
By Sylvia Pelcz-Larsen, President and Founder
Driving the vision to create Pisté was a deep recognition that now more then ever as we face catastrophic global events (Earthquakes, Oil spills, Historical flooding and storms) it seems people are waking up to the tipping point we have found ourselves engulfed in. Naturally during these critical times of change people are searching for answers and looking for ways to process why this is happening and how to take action in such overwhelming circumstances. The Pisté Foundation aims to be one light in the face of all these challenges as we work to provide a way to make a difference in the world around us. By bringing free, alternative health care into areas that so desperately need it our hope is that we may be part of the solution.
The Pisté Foundation travels to the Yucatan Peninsula two to three times annually. These trips have a two-fold purpose. First, we hold free alternative health care clinics for the local population. Ever since Chichen Itza has been declared a “Wonder of The World” the local village has been overwhelmed by many of the issues that heavy loads of tourists from all over the world can bring. By helping to reduce their stress levels through free alternative health care methods and supporting the community in general (such as raising money to build a local high school/Community Center in the town of Pisté) we can assist the Mayan people in clearly expressing their genetic blueprint and intrinsic knowledge to the world in a time where so many people are looking for answers. Because we are working directly with the people who work on the sacred sites in positions like tour guides, security personnel, and archeologists, we feel that they have an especially great opportunity to pass on their valuable knowledge to thousands of people from all around the world and want to do whatever we can to support them in this endeavor.
In addition to our focus on holding these free clinics in Mexico we also bring groups of students with us to volunteer their time in the clinic, take classes about Mayan culture and cosmology and have direct interaction with the Mayan population. It is our hope that after the experience of working with The Pisté Foundation in Mexico that the students and practitioners will then share and apply all they have learned upon their return to the U.S. With the increasing polarization between our cultures due to recent political events swirling around the immigration debate, it is abundantly clear we need to work on cultivating cultural tolerance and understanding. It is our goal to provide a learning environment that will allow this to take place through the operation of free, alternative healthcare clinics and workshops for both volunteers from the US and the local population we work with in Mexico.
Stories from the Field:
After traveling extensively throughout the Yucatan Peninsula and operating many free clinics for the local population it is clear what a great need there is in these areas when it comes to healthcare. The town of Pisté specifically has very few resources when it comes to the most basic of care as a result many, many people suffer with chronic pain, illness, and other health issues.
Upon opening our very fist clinic we were inundated with clients. We operated the clinic 12-13 hours a day and still had to turn people away. There were people in our waiting room that waited 3-4 hours just to get a treatment. It is our hope that in the near future we will be able to increase our volunteer staff and hold longer clinics so we can reach all the people who need help.
There are so many inspirational stories of the people that came to our clinics that have affected everyone deeply and inspire us to continue this work. One experience in particular stands out as an important moment. We were asked to come treat a man in his home who was in the end stages of terminal cancer. He was in an incredible amount of pain, had almost no pain medication, and the family was doing everything they could to make him more comfortable. However, because they have such limited resources there was not much they could do. We made the drive out to their small village, set up our equipment, and treated the entire family. It was a very powerful experience for everyone involved as we were witness to how the lack of access to healthcare effects both patient AND loved ones while navigating one of the most challenging, painful experiences that a family must endure. Yet, amidst these difficult circumstances we were able to offer something which provided support to the family.
We have also had clients come to the free clinics in very desperate health situations. A woman in the throws of such severe arthritis that her hands and arms were essentially immobile, a woman suffering from extreme back pain due to a bus accident which left her with a broken back and very little help to deal with her injuries, one client had such severe swelling and pain in her ankle that she could barely walk but still had to manage to work on her feet EVERY day. Our practitioners were able to provide relief for many chronic and debilitating conditions.
There are so many stories like this and it is our goal to be a part of the solution to the great need for health care resources in the community. As we focus our efforts on fundraising both in the US and Mexico it is our hope to hold free clinics at least 4 times annually and expand our reach to other areas in the Yucatan as well.
The Mayan Connection & 2012
The desire to work with the Mayan people arose from my long time interest in Mayan studies. In 1987 in Boulder, Colorado during the Harmonic Convergence literature on all things Mayan appeared in my life. Over the course of 20 years I have gained a clearer understanding of what some might call The 2012 Phenomenon, often misunderstood to be a time when the world will suddenly come to an end through some detrimental cataclysmic event along the lines of horrible natural disasters. This is not necessarily the case. One possible disaster during these end times though, is failing to recognize the enormous opportunities we have as human beings to shift the current global confusion towards a sustainable planetary consciousness.
The Mayan Long Count calendar, which comes to an end on December 21st 2012, is the end, as well as the beginning of another very long cycle. A few thousand years back, the Mayan people foresaw that the times that we are currently living in would bring about tremendous shifts in human consciousness. So big in fact that we might feel a bit overwhelmed. This feeling is palpable in all areas of the world. As a practitioner of alternative health care I began seeing the effects of this phenomenon clinically. We simply live in incredibly stressful times.
I decided to bring my students to Chichen Itza, Mexico for advanced studies. I thought: what better way to understand the current world situation than to be at one of the sites where these times had been predicted so long ago? I thought we could gain some insight into the mysteries of what the Mayans seemed to know so well and bring it back for the sake of improving our clinical work. I believed it could help us understand clinical practice from a new perspective, and it has.
The trips turned out much differently than I had expected. Through a series of serendipitous events, I became acquainted with some of the local official tour guides. It was to one of these guides, Abel Adonay Padilla that I jokingly offered to start a free clinic in his town, Pisté, in return for some really good food. He immediately took me up on it. I decided immediately to set up a non-profit organization, and the Pisté Foundation was born.
The Mayan people have an ancient traditional wisdom that understands our current global condition. The Long Count calendar is in alignment with astronomical events that can be observed with modern scientific instruments. In other words, their wisdom has been validated through scientific observation and documentation. Unfortunately, in places like Chichen Itza, the locals are so stressed and overwhelmed by tourism, that their wisdom is not easily available to us. Chichen Itza was recently voted a new 7th Wonder of the World. This is good, yet adds more pressure to Piste, a fairly small town.
Pisté Volunteers in the Ball court
The Pisté Foundation provides alternative health care to the Mayan people of small towns in close proximity to ancient Mayan sites throughout the Yucatan Peninsula. The clinics are set up to alleviate the physical and emotional stressors that people who live in towns like Pisté experience. Leading less stressful lives allows more of their wisdom to express itself to the rest of the world. I believe this wisdom will support a sustainable planetary consciousness. It is an opportunity not to be missed!
In addition to our work in Mexico we are also raising money to launch our first clinics in Lukla, Nepal. The Lukla, Nepal Project: Pasang Lhamu - Nicole Niquille Hospital is situated at an altitude of 9350' and is the gateway for Mount Everest. Health services in this area are inadequate. The district of Solukhumbu, the area where the Pisté Foundation will be working, is particularly affected by inadequate health care. People are still living in isolated rural, mountain communities, far removed from public hospitals. It is extremely difficult to receive medical care, medication, or even simple advice on health matters.
The infant and maternal mortality rates are the third highest in the world: for 100,000 births, more than 750 women die while giving birth and 7620 babies die during their first year (The World Group 2004). The women, married at adolescence, are often pregnant before their bodies are mature enough to receive an embryo. This increases the risk of obstetric complications.
On average, women have 3.5 children, of which more than 90% are born at home, often in deplorable conditions in terms of hygiene. During the birth, the women are assisted - if they don't give birth alone - by traditional “midwives” or untrained members of the family. Many give birth on a straw mattress, an old carpet or even the ground. The umbilical cord is often cut with a piece of wood or a coin, then some dried cow dung and ashes or spider’s web is applied to the umbilicus. So it is not surprising that infections like tetanus are common amongst newborn babies and mothers.
The target population for Pisté Foundation free alternative healthcare clinic in Lukla encompasses the population of the Solukhumbu district, including:
4000 people in the Jubhing area
3500 people in the Chaurikharka area
5000 people living in neighboring villages
If you are interested in volunteering time or donating money to support these efforts please contact us directly.