Who we are
The EARTH MEDICINE team is made up of different physical therapists, massage therapist and health professionals of different nationalities and backgrounds. Together we work every day to improve the health of people living in refugee camps on Lesbos.
Our team is also made up of Farsi and Arabic interpreters, who are a fundamental part of our therapeutic work.
Our volunteer platform provides the opportunity to meet and work with many other therapists from different parts of the world. This broadens our clinical, cultural and therapeutic horizons.
We hope to have many more volunteers who come to share their knowledge with us and to help those who need it most.
Since 2015, tens of thousands of refugees and migrants from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Congo, Cameroon and other Middle Eastern and African countries, began to arrive in Greece, and particularly in the Island of Lesbos.
In these last few years, Europe has seen the endless repetition of the story of millions of people who, in order to save their lives, have been forced to leave their countries, their families, and their homes to face an uncertain future all alone and deal with the deep psychological and physical trauma acquired through their journeys.
It was seeing this harsh reality in Lesbos, that prompted us to create this organisation, to offer migrants and refugees the possibility of accessing physical rehabilitation treatments.
After a year of hard work and facing many limitations, we have felt the need to expand our work to offer more complete and effective treatments. We have now incorporated Acupuncture treatments to treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorders.
As therapists, we cannot disassociate the physical body from the mind and emotions that negatively impact our health. For this reason, we understand that we cannot be rehabilitated from physical injuries when intense psychological and emotional trauma is affecting the chemistry of our whole body by constantly releasing stress hormones that prevent our physical healing. Through our work, we have seen that it is imperative to treat post-traumatic-stress disorders in people who have been victims of violent episodes, in order to help them restore their physical health.
We are currently located inside Kara Tepe camp, Lesbos, Greece. We have conditioned a container as a clinical centre where we treat refugees who live in the Moria and Kara Tepe camps. Those who live in Kara Tepe are mostly vulnerable families and therefore they are our priority. The people we treat who come from Moria camp are mostly young single people
without families who are also in a situation of vulnerability and who require long-term treatments, due to the nature of their injuries.
EARTH MEDICINE Founder
Fabiola Velasquez is a physical therapist and social activist with more than 15 years of experience in the field of social work.
Fabiola was born in Puerto Mont, Chile, where she spent her childhood years. Fabiola’s first contact with people in need came when she volunteered for a pre-university internship in Puerto Mont Hospital assisting people in final stages of AIDS. This experience has been fundamental and one of the reasons that prompted her to work in the field of social health, education and social activism.
Fabiola went on to get her Bachelor degree in Education and Social Sciences at the local university. At the same time driven by curiosity and a passion to connect with the ancestral knowledge of her area, she engaged with the local indigenous community studying traditional medicine. After her studies, she worked for several years in the Cultural Center of Puerto Mont developing integration programs for people in poverty and socially vulnerability.
Fabiola then moved to UK where she studied Remedial Therapy with specialization on chronic injury rehabilitation. After moving to the island of Lesvos in 2014, Fabiola volunteered during the first stages of the refugee crisis. Moved by the amount of refugees with disabilities and chronic injuries living in extremely difficult conditions, Fabiola decided in 2018 to commit voluntarily, offering full time treatment to those who needed it most. This was the beginning of Earth Medicine Physical Rehabilitation. Since then the project gained momentum with the contribution of many volunteers, including refugees from the camp of Kara Tepe.
In 2020, the project was officially registered as a Non-Profit Organization under the Greek Law. Fabiola strongly believes that personal health and social health are closely interconnected. Therefore, she aims to continue the project providing a space where the most vulnerable people irrespective of where they come from can receive physical treatment and support thus becoming a place for social integration.
from Lesvos - Greece
Dimitris Patounis is a professional control systems engineer with degrees in both software engineering and engineering design. Dimitris has grown up on the island of Lesvos until the age of 18 when he left for studies and then to pursue a professional career abroad in the automotive industry and later the renewable energy sector (wind energy). Returning on the island of Lesvos he ventured in the development and local production of electric cargo-bicycles focused on sustainable transportation. Dimitris is passionate about the need of humanity to focus on sustainable de-growth social structures and technologies that will allow the human civilization to transform, heal its connection with the environment and avert a climate catastrophe.
He is part of the Earth Medicine team as a volunteer contributing in the technical fields (IT, data management and statistics, service of treatment equipment and any form of technical issues). He believes that the organization plays a very important humanitarian role offering practical physical rehabilitation as well as psychological support for the most vulnerable among refugees. He envisions that the organization can expand the services to support most vulnerable local population with special needs thus becoming a beacon of social integration.
Dr. GERHARD TRABERT
Doctor for General Medicine,Politician,Activist,Author
Dr. Gerhard Trabert is a doctor for general medicine / emergency medicine, professor of social medicine / social psychiatry and author .Gerhard Trabert was born in Mainz,Germany. Dr. Trabert studied social work at the Wiesbaden University of Applied Sciences from 1975 to 1979 .Before and during his studies he was in the athletics team of the German junior and student national team. In 1983 he began studying human medicine, which he completed in 1989 at the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz . From the beginning of his medical practice, he completed numerous assignments abroad, including in India , Bangladesh and the USA .
During his trip through India Trabert got to know the "outreach health care concept" medical street work, in which mainly leprosy patients were treated. The guiding principle followed by this concept is: "If the patient does not come to the doctor, the doctor comes to the patient". Inspired by this work and his experiences there, he applied this medical approach to the health care of homeless people. In 1994 he founded the Mainz model, a medical care facility for homeless people. In 2013 Trabert set up the "Ambulance without borders" on the premises of the city of Mainz. Homeless people and patients without insurance coverage are given medical treatment free of charge. Dr.Trabert has been part of the Earth Medicine team since 2018.
Sandra is originally from Bogota-Colombia, and has been living in the UK for over 25 years. She started her acupuncture practice in 2004, later doing post-graduate training in Chinese herbal medicine and in 2011 was awarded a Masters in Science with merit in Oriental medicine. Sandra is always updating and advancing her knowledge. She is now enrolled in advanced Chinese medicine training on Classical herbal medicine with Dr Suzanne Rubidoux.
Sandra believes that working with the most vulnerable within our communities will benefit society as a whole. She has volunteered her therapeutic skills in different organisations working with immigrant women victims of domestic violence, palliative care, and people undergoing alcohol and drug rehabilitation. She has also volunteered at the Indian village of Chapparda, in the state of Gujarat, at a World Medicine’s project aiming to bring acupuncture to those in most need around the world.
Currently, Sandra works in private clinics in Bristol, and is the acupuncture practitioner at the Bristol Multiple Sclerosis Therapy Centre, in the UK.
Sandra has been part of the Earth Medicine team since 2018. She has helped out with our website content, with fundraising, offering Chinese herbal medicine teleconsultations and treatments to our refugees and Chinese medicine advice to enhance our therapeutic results. In August 2021, Sandra spent over 3 weeks at Earth Medicine’s clinic and offered treatments to many refugees experiencing pain, neurological problems, and PTSD. She hopes to be able to visit us regularly to offer her skills.
Farsi-Dari-English interpreter & Assistant.
Sohrab is our Farsi-Dari-English Interpreter and main assistant for male patients. He began to volunteer with us in February 2020 and since May 2021 he has been working as a full-time employee. In Afghanistan he used to work as a truck driver, currently his main goal is to get his professional international driving license and start working in Greece. He also attends Greek lessons, in order to improve his language skills.
Malvina is our Administrative Coordinator. She was born in Mytilene, Lesvos. She studied law at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece. She worked as a lawyer for 7 years in Mytilene. She’s also a therapist, practicing body work therapy for 18 years. She started to work with us as a full-time employee since May 2021.Being a local from Lesvos, she’s very much aware about the refugee issue since 2015 and she wants to support in any possible way.
Mahnaz is our Therapist Assistant. She studied physiotherapy in Iran for one year .She would like to continue studying to become a makeup artist. She’s also deeply interested on educational treatment field, related to raise awareness about self health care and prevention. She began to work with us since June 2021. Mahnaz is also working hard to improve her languages skills in English and Greek.
Dr. KAILIS VASILIS
Dr.Vasilis Kailis is an Orthopedic Surgeon. He was born and raised in Luxemburg. He studied at the Medical School of Patras, and at the Université Catholique de Louvain, in Brussels, where he received the specialty of Orthopedic Surgeon. His contribution improving the health of our patients has been enormous. Since January 2019, Dr. Kailis has provided hundreds of consultation/examinations. Additionally he performed one hip arthroplasty surgery to a 19 year old male who was unable to walk, one metal implant extraction surgery of the tibialis to a young male who was in constant pain and unable to walk properly and several knee arthritis treatments. Dr Kailis also treats the joint deformities of our patients that have been victims of torture as well as spinal issues of our children patients with congenital anomalies.
Janina works for EarthMedicine as a bioenergetical healer. Based in Berlin, Germany, she first came to Lesvos in 2021 for a long-term stay. Starting her professional life in the theatre and music business, she decided in 2015 to follow a different path, searching for a deeper human connection. Completing different trainings as a body psychotherapist, trauma counsellor, practitioner for psychotherapy and bioenergetic healer, she then worked three years for an organization supporting people with chronic mental diseases. There she focused on complex trauma and dissociative disorders, mainly as the consequences due to ritual abuse. Since 2018 she’s also been accompanying terminally ill patients at a hospice service .Since 2020 she is mainly concentrating on bioenergetic healing and expanding her private practice.
Ole lives in Mainz, Germany and started working with humanitarian organizations from a young age. When he was 13 he joined SEARΑ, a humanitarian organization that leads a kindergarten for malnourished kids based in Santarem, Brazil. Through projects, he collected money to support the organization. At the age of 16 he visited the project in Brazil. After graduating in Mainz 2012 and after several internships in the field of medicine, he studied physical therapy from 2013-2016.
From 2017-2019 he worked as a physical therapist in Wiesloch, Germany. Since the fall of 2019 he studied human medicine at the Johannes-Gutenberg Universitat Mainz.
In the spring of 2020 he got the chance to work in Lesvos with EarthMedicine as a physical therapist. After returning to Germany he continued supporting the organization as he interviews applicants that want to join the program. He believes that this project is one of a kind and it truly shows how a humanitarian organization should engage with people in severe situations. At EarthMedicine, refugees do not only get physical help. We also take care of their needs and mental health.
Our next step will be to open another clinical centre near Moria camp to allow us to help more people from that refugee camp. At the moment those from Moria having treatments with us are having to walk long hours between Moria and Kara Tepe to receive treatments. During the winter, this means walking in the rain and cold. A new treatment centre will improve this situation for all of them, and enable others who cannot walk that far to access treatments.
We hope to find the financial support we need to enable us to carry out this much-needed project, for the benefit of thousands of refugees living in Lesbos Island.