This is Personal: Humanitarian Pilgrimage to the Border

I’m heading to the border. Please read if you’d like to know the details, and how you can help.

These are not ordinary times. 

Many of you already know me.  I am an adventurous spirit with an itch to travel, a license to practice as a counselor and consultant with quite a bit of experience working with people who are struggling from one kind of trauma or another. 

I am currently on a mission of the heart.  Though I am from the Midwest USA I live in Guadalajara among kindhearted and welcoming Mexicans.  Every time I tune in to the news and world events I am compelled to do something out of the ordinary.  So, in October I’m taking a bus from Hermosillo MX to Tucson, where I will do some talks on trauma and embodiment. Along the way, I hope to learn more about the people and the overall situation at the border, and the folks who are providing care to refugees.  

In my experience, those who serve others are often less dedicated to making sure their own needs are well met.  And since the bulk of the work I do now is with people in helping professions (clinicians, administrators, healers of various sorts), I plan to team up with an organization or two at the border where I can do some volunteer work with clinicians and/or people in service on the front lines who could be experiencing secondary trauma and/or in need of some personal support.  So far I am looking at Kino Border Initiative and No More Deaths.

For me, these past few years have been about getting myself positioned to contribute more to issues I am passionate about.  This trip to AZ is just now taking shape.  I am in communication with Kino Border Initiative with the intention of seeing how it would feel to team up with them as a longer-term partner.  Partnering with an organization like this would require me to travel, but I can also follow up via video conferencing if I start with a client who could benefit from subsequent sessions.

With the help of Kino Border Initiative, and other agencies that serve refugees I hope to offer my services free of charge to people who have been experiencing symptoms of PTSD, shock or burnout.  I have the tools, and I am equipped to just jump in and work.  Gratefully I find that with my tools, interacting with people who have experienced outrageous circumstances does not tend to impact me in ways that are overly stressful or overwhelming.

In this initial visit to Tucson, I will be taking as many opportunities as I can to speak to small groups about trauma. I believe that I can do these talks and offer my trauma therapy services on a volunteer basis if I can also sell some of my books, have a number of paid clients and paid gigs and possibly a series of hosts to count on and/or some orientation and/or rides from place to place to keep my expenses down.  So far, I have a few dear friends to see, some former clients and some professional contacts in the Tucson area who are helping me get the word out so that I can fund my trip. 

I am not averse to working hard, and I am not fussy about accommodations.  I know there is a lot of work to do, and I am ready to step up.  If I get the necessary support, I could see myself making the Tucson area a place I come on a regular basis.  As often as possible, while also taking care that I don’t over-commit or burn myself out.

Below I include the latest version of my itinerary.  It will change as the days go by and things firm up.

  • Oct 5 – Leave Guadalajara for Hermosillo
  • Oct 6 – Book Release Event at El Centro Zalzicán for Estar En Mi Cuerpo
  • Oct 7 – Go to Kino Beach, visit, and play with Friend/Publisher Mariana Ayon at Ban Pang Editorial
  • Oct 9 – Leave Hermosillo via bus, stopping in Nogales to cross the border.
  • Communication toward building long-term collaborative relationships continues with 3 agencies which serve refugees:
    • Kino Border Initiative
    • No More Deaths
    • The Florence Project
  • Oct 9 – Arrive in Tucson
  • Oct 10 – Visit Dear Friend from MO
  • Oct 11 – Visit Dear friend, have tea with a new friend
  • Oct 12 – Visit ranch of a friend I met in Ajijic, overnight there
  • October 13, Sol Center Yoga Studio – Speaking on attachment and early relational trauma.
  • Oct 13 – Meet new friend after talk at Sol Center
  • Rent a car and leave for Sahuarita: At Home With The Stars Astrology where I will spend three days and nights.
  • More visits with friends
  • Individual Sessions with Clients
  • Oct 17 – Leave for Temecula CA, where I will meet with Bengali family and talk some more about trauma.
  • Oct 19 – Return to Guadalajara

I can easily craft talks about trauma in very basic terms, and the importance of trauma-informed care.  I also can teach techniques for helping people who have just experienced a traumatic event to calm their nervous system down so they can think and attend to next steps. This can be learned by anybody for self use or helping others.

Summing it up, I am interested in providing appropriate, high-quality therapies, knowledge and techniques to people who might not otherwise get it.  For this initial trip, I hope to work for a day (volunteer with 7-8 individuals or families).  For future trips, longer (up to 3 days).  The kind of therapy I do is research-based, of the highest quality available for trauma.  A lot can be done in a session or two, and even more if follow-up sessions are arranged via video.  I will see English speaking service providers who are suffering physical symptoms that are likely due to secondary trauma and stress, or helpers who have diagnoses of PTSD/Trauma.  I would also be open to seeing non English speakers if I can have appropriate interpretive support.  Adequate support would necessarily be someone with a mental health background/pastoral experience.

If you have read this far, thank you.  If you feel so moved, please send me some words of encouragement, pass the word to people you know in Tucson and others who are concerned about the humanitarian crisis at the border.  I trust I will find just the right setting in which to plug in, but your well wishes and support mean a lot to me.  The border is calling me, and there are important people there I need to meet.

I will be providing as much pro bono work as I can.  But there may also be people who would like to schedule paid sessions with me.  That income will help subsidize my volunteer work, so if you know of anyone who might be interested, please pass the word.  You don’t even have to be local.  I offer EMDR Therapy via Internet, and I can receive payments via PayPal!  Or if you feel like you would like to make a monetary contribution, it could help me expand my reach and the amount of trauma work I am able to do.  I promise I would spend it wisely, always with the intention of maximizing my positive impact in the region and making a difference.  My expenses will include the following:

  • Bus fare and Air fare.
  • Meals while I’m on the road.
  • Missed work while I am traveling.
  • Car Rental (I hear that Turo is an excellent and cost-effective option).
  • Incidentals – small gifts and compensation for hosts, etc.

Toni Rahman is a trauma-informed practitioner, certified in EMDR, and an EMDRIA Approved Consultant, who can provide consultation toward EMDR certification.  She is also trained in Advanced CranioSacral Therapy and SomatoEmotional Release and Hypnosis.