Mission & History
In 2012 Dan Wunderlich, Founder and Executive Director of Global Healthworks Foundation, traveled to Quiché, Guatemala to participate in an integrative healthcare outreach project. During his visit, he forged a relationship with area nonprofits and charitable organizations with a similar vision for advancing the health and wellbeing of local indigenous communities. Through this partnership, Dan and his team began offering holistic health services to underserved Mayan populations throughout Quiché.
A nationally certified Eastern medicine practitioner, Dan had been leading such projects locally—in his hometown of New York City—and internationally—to places as far as Indonesia and Nepal—since the early 2000s. Yet it was this first trip to Guatemala that solidified his desire to expand and professionalize his efforts even further, to establish a 501(c)(3) registered U.S. nonprofit—what is now Global Healthworks Foundation.
The mission of Global Healthworks Foundation (GHF) is to provide sustainable integrative healthcare to underserved communities domestically and internationally. With a nearly all-volunteer staff and a yearly programmatic budget of $120,000, we treat approximately eight thousand patients annually at our clinics in New York City and Guatemala. As all money raised is allocated to our programs—GHF has no overhead costs—we are able to offer treatments to patients free-of-charge. These services include: acupuncture, therapeutic soft-tissue bodywork, natural herbal remedies, Reiki energy healing, nutritional and lifestyle counseling, and rehabilitative exercises, such as yoga and Qigong. Over the course of just three and a half years in Guatemala, we have reached more than eighteen thousand patients in the highlands of Quiché.
Services & Locations
Our programs operate on a weekly, monthly, and bi-annual basis. Our dedicated team of practitioners and community-based health promoters—Guatemalan women and men who support our practitioners’ acupuncture, bodywork, and Reiki treatments—participate in weekly mobile clinics throughout Quiché. Health promoters receive training in auricular acupuncture, Reiki, yoga, and basic bodywork and acupuncture techniques, which they offer during GHF clinics and within their own communities. Through our partnership with local health promoters, GHF ensures that our programs are sustainable and our treatments are culturally appropriate and meet the needs of indigenous populations in the most effective manner possible.
Twice a year, GHF volunteers and our Quiché-based team participate in large-scale medical missions, which offer services to some fifteen hundred people in a span of just five or six days. Around fifteen to twenty practitioners of East Asian medicine from the United States and Canada travel to Quiché to provide treatments focused on trauma healing, physical pain management, and disease prevention. Their volunteer services enable GHF to operate at a low cost and to direct donations to supplies and training. The majority of Quiché residents who attend both the weekly mobile clinics and bi-annual missions are repeat patients who report feeling significant improvement in their physical and/or emotional health.
Though the site of our U.S. clinics may differ from our Guatemalan base, the needs of those served in New York City and Quiché are not as different as one may think. High rates of trauma, chronic illness, addiction, and emotional distress are present among our patients in both Guatemala and New York. As in Quiché, our monthly New York clinic is offered to patients—many of whom are people living with HIV/AIDS and/or war veterans suffering from addiction and post-traumatic stress disorders—at no cost, thanks to volunteer practitioners like Peter Panken and Geordie Numata, who helped launch the clinic several years ago.
The GHF Healthcare Delivery Model
GHF’s model is unique both because of the range of services offered and the manner in which our team delivers those services. The guiding principles of this model are as follows:
- We engage local partners with existing networks to aid in identifying communities in need of outreach services.
- Our services are comprehensive. Full, multi-modality treatments are offered to children, young adults, and older adults at our bi-annual medical missions and regular supervised mobile clinics.
- We value the importance of organization and smooth processes. Each medical mission includes a logistics specialist so that the treatment environment remains calm and stress-free for both practitioner and patient.
- We think beyond immediate treatment and service delivery by planning for the sustainability of our programs. We train local health promoters and involve youth and young adults in our Quiché-based activities to ensure the prolonged impact of our work.
- Our permanent supervised mobile outreach clinic provides continued treatments in between our larger medical missions, furthering our patients’ healing processes and GHF’s connection with local communities.
As we maintain this model in our present locations, we are also initiating plans to extend it to additional populations in the United States, Central America, and beyond. Our work in Guatemala and New York demonstrates that the GHF model is both replicable and effective and can be integrated easily within communities of varying backgrounds. With the support of our generous partners, donors, and volunteers we will not only be able to maintain our existing programs over the long-term, but also expand them to additional patients and health promoters across the globe.
Where We Work
The populations served in our New York City and Quiché clinics may vary in regards to their geographic locations and economic backgrounds. However, both are considered medically underserved due to social or economic conditions, political situations, racial or ethnic marginalization, and/or geographic position (i.e. distance to a medical clinic or hospital). One of our primary organizational goals is to provide services where there is the biggest need. Often, that is in our own backyard—even in New York City, one of the largest and wealthiest cities in the United States.
GHF operates from the belief that our team, patients, and partners are one human family, regardless of differing backgrounds. We help each other and reap the benefits together. These principles inform our work wherever we operate—in Guatemala, New York City, and Indonesia, Nepal and beyond.