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A Healer’s Meridian: Where Eastern and Western Healing Intersect

Young Explorer Sadia Ali Photo by Andrew Sampson
Young Explorer Sadia Ali. (Photo by Andrew Sampson)

Sadia Ali is a National Geographic Young Explorers Grantee who seeks to unravel the conflict between “Western” and “Eastern” medicine, and to illustrate how their intersection can be beneficial to everyone in providing more treatment options and lowering costs. Her project, “A Healer’s Meridian”, focuses on reporting healthcare conditions and practices in Laos, where medicine is both new and traditional.

“A Healer’s Meridian” is a project that takes root from my personal experiences with Western healthcare. Growing up with parents who suffer from cardiovascular disease and no form of healthcare insurance, I understood at an early age the deficiencies of our Western healthcare model. With numerous surgeries and medications, these expenses have been an ongoing burden for my family. If we, as Americans, have had limited financial accessibility to healthcare, then how do remote communities in developing countries also receive similar services?

This project calls into question our Western perceptions of health and treatment and explores alternative forms of healing in remote communities in Laos. I hope to unveil the mystery shrouding Eastern medicine and show the audience that traditional medicine can present an equal footing to Western treatment, and that the merging of the two is a tangible and sustainable form of healthcare that could potentially be adopted by other developing nations.

This series comprises a compilation of interviews, footage of my experiences, my debriefings as the outsider, and diary entries. With a camera in hand, I will photograph and film different characters I meet along the way to give a multifaceted view of health and healing in Laos. Through my exploration of the dying culture of Hmong folk medicine juxtaposed with the Western influences of modern healthcare in Laos, “A Healer’s Meridian” delves into how this dichotomy can work hand-in-hand and sometimes at odds.

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