Benefits to disadvantaged children and their communities
Key benefits Buds to Blossoms' programs bring to disadvantaged children and their communities include the following:
Restored ability to stand and walk, and relief from pain, after trauma, injury and illness
One case is that of a teenage girl who was so weakened by the symptoms of AIDS and by repeated rapes by her stepfather that she had been unable to get out of a hospital bed for half a year. Her leg muscles were atrophied and highly contracted. Daily massages by Buds to Blossoms volunteers greatly increased range of motion in her legs. With the volunteers' assistance, she gradually regained the ability to stand and walk.
Another case is that of a nearly-fatal motorcycle accident survivor to whom Buds to Blossoms volunteers provided care at a shelter for AIDS orphans. The patient was in extreme pain and was unable to move his back and legs. Volunteer team members specializing in massage and osteopathy restored proper spinal alignment and reduced muscle tension in the patient's back and legs, greatly relieving his pain and improving mobility. Under the care of the volunteers, the patient regained the ability to stand and walk.
Reduced agression in children and their adult caregivers
The most common and easily-observed result of the Buds to Blossoms volunteer team's work is a dramatic reduction in acts of violence at the sites we visit. Children who frequently tormented and harmed other children prior to their first experiences receiving massage made profound personality shifts while in the volunteers' care. They became much more likely to play cooperatively and peacefully, offer assistance to other children in distress, and offer gentle touch to other children and to their caregivers. Adult caregivers imitate the nurturing behaviors of the volunteers and become more likely to bond with the children and respond to day-to-day frustrations non-violently. Aggressive behavior has gone from being common at some of the sites we visit to being relatively rare.
Improved mood and attentiveness, and reduced stress
After receiving massage, children at the orphanages we visit were observed more quickly soothing themselves and more easily being soothed by their caregivers when they experienced distress. Professional caregivers reported that children who had been depressed exhibited positive and lasting changes in mood after receiving massages from Buds to Blossoms volunteers. According to their teachers, children exhibited greater attentiveness in school after receiving massage.
Increased range of motion and reduced pain in children with disabilities and deformities
The massages Buds to Blossoms volunteers provide help soothe the discomfort of limbs that are continually contracted and enable children to move more freely so they can do more and be more self sufficient.
Improved quality of life
Many of the children we work with have severe physical disabilities and lie on cots all day, unable to stand and seek out interaction with others. Some of the institutions in which they live have insufficient resources to provide more than one caregiver for every ten to fifteen children, so they receive relatively little nurturing contact from adults. In these settings, Buds to Blossoms volunteers are key providers of the one-on-one attention and touch that are essential for the children's physical, mental and emotional well-being and development.
Improved immune system functioning
Numerous studies have found that massage boosts the immune systems of children and adults with HiV/AIDS.1,2,3,4,5 This can reduce the frequency and severity of opportunistic infections and help the children live longer, healthier lives.
Financial support for basic needs
Buds to Blossoms volunteers raise funds to help meet the basic needs of the children we work with. In the program's first four years, $40,000 was raised to help cover the cost of food, education, housing, and medical care for AIDS orphans and other disadvantaged children.
Benefits to volunteers and their communities
The Buds to Blossoms program also brings volunteers and their communities a number of benefits, including the following:
Educational opportunities and practical experience in caring for ill and disabled children
Buds to Blossoms volunteers learn by working alongside veteran pediatric massage and infant massage therapists and teachers. They get a tremendous amount of hands-on experience providing massage to children with HIV/AIDS and disabilities that they can use in their careers and in service to children in their own communities.
Many people are uncertain or misinformed about how HIV can and cannot be transmitted, and this lack of awareness can increase the likelihood of people with HIV being subjected to discrimination, ostracism and violence. In our program's orientation meeting, Buds to Blossoms insures volunteers have a good understanding of how HIV/AIDS can and cannot be transmitted. Regularly being in the presence of children and adults with HIV/AIDS, getting to know them personally, and providing them with nurturing touch during the program also help volunteers overcome any fears and prejudices they may have.
Inspiration to continue being of service to children in need
Volunteers return to their communities having experienced the joy of caring for ill and disadvantaged children, motivated to continue helping children in their own countries and abroad.
- HIV adolescents show improved immune function following massage therapy. Diego MA1, Field T, Hernandez-Reif M, Shaw K, Friedman L, Ironson G. The International Journal of Neuroscience. 2001 Jan; 106(1-2):35-45.
- Impact of a massage therapy clinical trial on immune status in young Dominican children infected with HIV-1. Shor-Posner G1, Hernandez-Reif M, Miguez MJ, Fletcher M, Quintero N, Baez J, Perez-Then E, Soto S, Mendoza R, Castillo R, Zhang G. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (New York, NY). 2006 Jul-Aug;12(6):511-6.
- Massage Therapy Improves Behavior in Neonates Born to HIV-Positive Mothers. Frank Scafidi and Tiffany Field. Journal of Pediatric Psychology. Vol. 21, No. 6, 1996, pp. 889-897.
- Massage therapy is associated with enhancement of the immune system's cytotoxic capacity. Ironson G1, Field T, Scafidi F, Hashimoto M, Kumar M, Kumar A, Price A, Goncalves A, Burman I, Tetenman C, Patarca R, Fletcher MA. The International Journal of Neuroscience. 1996 Feb;84(1-4):205-17.
- A Preliminary Study of the Effects of a Single Session of Swedish Massage on Hypothalamic–Pituitary–Adrenal and Immune Function in Normal Individuals. Mark Hyman Rapaport, Pamela Schettler, and Catherine Bresee. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. October 2010, 16(10): 1079-1088. doi:10.1089/acm.2009.0634.