education, Herbs, Store news

Herbalists Without Borders

Most of us have heard of international humanitarian organizations such as Doctors Without Borders or the Peace Corps. But, have you ever heard of Herbalists Without Borders? This amazing non-profit organization provides holistic care that empowers and supports marginalized people by donating herbs, supplements, and education to free clinics throughout the world. 

We are truly humbled by their dedication and work and have recently donated 360 bottles of our tonics to their cause. However, after learning more about the remarkable work HWB does, we have decided to partner with Herbalists Without Borders by regularly donating and sharing their story through our Torii Tribe channels. 

Below, we have shared a recent interview with Executive Director Denise Cusack about Herbalists Without Borders' background and work.

What is Herbalists Without Borders? 

HWB is a global network devoted to providing compassionate holistic care to communities in need impacted by natural disasters, violent conflicts, poverty, trauma and other access barriers to health and wellness. Humanitarian aid and actions center around herbal health justice: Herbal Borderless Medicine, Holistic Free People's Clinics, Trauma Trainings, Education & Advocacy, Technical Assistance and more. HWB also promotes Nourishing Community Gardens, Medicinal Seed Saving, Seed Banks/Libraries, herbal education, and social justice related to herbalism and herbal health access. 

What countries do you have chapters in? 

HWB has members, chapters, clinics, projects, and groups that align with our vision around the world. We currently have chapters in the US including Puerto Rico, Canada, Mexico, Australia, Kenya, Uganda, UK, Italy, Scotland, and Belgium, with other projects and/or partners in Gambia, South Africa, France, Mexico, Philippines, Singapore, Nepal and a few new groups in progress at this time, as the world responds to the pandemic. Our membership includes even more nations including Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Haiti, Portugal, Germany, Egypt, Serbia, India, Liberia, with many members working in their communities, but not yet as official Chapters. 

How did HWB begin?

Our first Executive Director of HWB created a 501c3 nonprofit organization, working primarily in her own community at first, and then mobilized to create a global network. She took HWB from a vision to a global network in only 13 years, and when she retired in 2017, HWB had reached more than 50 chapters. In the past 3 years we have grown membership by another 400%, reaching more people than ever before, and have created a full US donation distribution network and seed library, with about 90 clinics/chapters/projects worldwide. 

What types of communities does HWB support?

HWB believes in anti-oppressive and anti-colonizing work. This means we work to support people in their own communities, lifting up and empowering people to meet the needs of their own local people. To do this, we have members join from around the world, align with our vision and mission, work under our 501c3, access our tools, resources, and support, and create models that can be implemented anywhere in the world.

HWB also knows that to do this work, we all need support not only in education, resources, and empowerment, but also in supplies. Running free or sliding scale clinics takes a significant amount of resources, and our all-volunteer Coordinators also have lives. The HWB model has each nation work to create a local, sustainable Community Apothecary model that helps clinics fill in the gaps with supplies to support free clinics in their nation or region. In the US, this means our US Community Apothecary and Donation Distribution is the lead flagship model, where we gather donated resources and supplies, and distribute out to free clinics throughout the entire country. 

How do you streamline getting herbal and health supplies to communities in need through your volunteer network?

HWB has a US Community Apothecary and Donation Distribution system created to intake donations from businesses and members of the community from around the US, and share them out to free people’s clinics where they are needed. By staging in a central location, we can share supplies out to many groups at a time, manage the inventory in a climate controlled space here, be ready to mobilize for additional support after disasters at a moments notice, and take some of the load off of the Coordinators so they can focus on their free clinics, and let us help them manage the supply needs. 

HWB also has many eGuides and resources to help coordinators work in their communities - we offer technical support, online portal resources, coordinator calls, a private coordinator group, and other pieces that can help coordinators strategize, organize, and mobilize.

Who can volunteer for HWB?

HWB encourages people to join as members - membership is how we do our work, and reach our communities. Members can then also look to see if there is a local Chapter, and if they are hosting meetings, events, or activities. If there is nothing local, members can form a chapter/clinic/project in their own areas if they are interested. Different groups have different focuses - some groups are primarily a free clinic, some a community garden, some offering herbal education, to name a few. Members can also volunteer to help our core group. We are all volunteers, and it takes a village! We are always in need of volunteers - even just a few hours a month can make a difference. Visit the website for how you can volunteer with HWB.

What are other ways customers of Torii Labs can get involved with HWB?

HWB memberships do have benefits - our member portal has over 900 amazing resources to download and read or use - but memberships also show your support so that we can continue to do our work. We also accept donations for shipping, supplies, and educational programs to support herbalists around the world working in their communities. 

How is HWB giving back or involved in supporting people of color during these trying times?

HWB has members/chapters/clinics/groups that work as street medics, community herbalists, and wellness supporters wherever they are needed. We are supporting people via self care kits, clinic and first aid supplies, and we have extensive resources in our member portal for activists, responders, and community workers. HWB has many groups who work on indigenous lands, in black communities, in LGBTQ communities, with refugees and asylum seekers, and more. Coordinators are also most often from those communities, filling a vital need and role of getting support to those who need it most. You can read more information here

How is HWB keeping people safe through COVID19?

HWB member chapters, clinics, and projects have adapted to host tele-health and online clinics, hands-free and curbside pickups, no touch self care kit distribution and more. Some clinics are hosting group classes online or hosting free webinars on different topics. They have done an amazing job of continuing to reach out to their communities in a way that protects both community and coordinator. 

Our US Community Apothecary has a sanitation protocol to intake all donations, stage them for quarantine, wipe all supplies down, and then intake them into the space. We are following strict protocols for boxing and shipping out, and we currently have only 1 person shipping all donations at this time to maintain a lockdown in that space & reduce risk. This way all supplies going out to communities at risk know that all boxed donations are ready to distribute. 

HWB has also been maintaining an online COVID19 resource, more resources in our portal, and we have a private FB Coordinator group where we share information and tips. We will continue to adapt and work through this ongoing challenge!


Anything else you want to share with us?!

HWB volunteers are the gold of our nonprofit, and we appreciate all of the dedication, hard work, and volunteer time that people invest to bring health justice and humanitarian aid to their communities.

Please visit the Herbalists Without Borders website for more information on how you can donate and get involved with their amazing organization. We will be posting updates for our Torii Tribe members on our social media and website, so stay tuned!

 Thank you again Denise the entire volunteer team at HWB for all the life changing work you do - we are so excited to partner and bring holistic health to everyone who needs it.