spinal column

Journey to Solidarity: The cycle of giving

Jay Breitlow, D.C., Davenport ’08
As part of the Journey to Solidarity program, Dr. Breitlow, left, drove to northern Ghana to provide care to orphans, most of whom were HIV positive. On each commute, he’d see this family selling handmade drums and rattles to make their living.
Dr. Jay Breitlow standing with Ghana family

Journey to Solidarity, or J2S, as we affectionately call it, was founded to allow people around the world to experience the miracles of chiropractic. When I was a student at Palmer, I knew that Clinic Abroad had made several trips to Madagascar, but I wondered if there was a way to continue chiropractic care there after our students had left. Due to a civil war, I never made it to Madagascar. Instead, I found myself in Ghana, West Africa, facing people who were very much in need of some healing hands.

One person who left a lasting impression on me was a brilliant carpenter named Eraldo. When I met Eraldo, he was clutching his side, doubled over with an ice pack, and had to be helped into a chair by two of his employees. I was still pretty green when I adjusted him and a little shocked when he screamed, and even more shocked when he came into the office solo and upright the next day. It’s a beautiful reminder of how grateful I am for chiropractic.

The biggest challenges I had in getting J2S up and running were financial because I had to communicate to the masses at home to raise money while I was living abroad. Just one post on the Internet can take the better part of a whole day, and that is assuming the lights are on! If it weren’t for scores of great people making donations to J2S, I wouldn’t have been able to go for the first year at all.

The biggest educational benefit I received from J2S was discerning the difference between service and sacrifice. Rarely do we adjust people in the states without collecting a fee for our services. In Africa, I was rarely reimbursed except under special circumstances.

After about five months sacrificing (not serving), I realized that this gift we have in chiropractic loses its value when it’s free. When I began setting an expectation that people donate something in return (essentially giving them permission to give and complete the cycle of giving), the adjustment was magnified ten-fold in its power! It didn’t have to be a big donation— even something small like a piece of fruit or a few cents—gave more meaning to the experience. Then I took all those earnings and pumped them back into community schools, hospitals and scholarships!

Although living in Africa is relatively inexpensive, maintaining a life as a chiropractor and keeping family ties isn’t. After two years, I realized I was going to have to work on grant writing to get more funding for J2S. However, after spending what felt like a millennium writing grant requests, the J2S board and I realized that we were going to have to do something else to continue our mission. We decided I needed to raise money by running my own practice back in the U.S. to sustain my own life and my familial relationships. Now that I’m in the U.S. again, $20 of each new patient visit to our practice, as well as the practice’s of some of my colleagues, goes directly to J2S.

If you have a desire to provide chiropractic care to people in need, be sure you give permission to complete the cycle of giving. What you have is a miracle to share and should be treated as such. This miracle grows in strength and value beyond measure when you set it on the wings of service, not sacrifice.

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