Bernadette Lim – Freedom Community Clinic

Date grant awarded: November 23, 2019

Freedom Community Clinic brings whole-person healing to our shared communities in the Bay Area. We bring community-centered healing that integrates ancestral, indigenous, and holistic healing practices with the strengths of Western medicine to underserved communities through community engagement – community healing dinners and pop-up clinics and events – holistic healing workshops, and our Downtown Oakland anchor healing spaces. All services are offered for free and/or at sliding scale.

We address health issues that arise from systemic poverty and inequality. We focus on unequal access to quality affordable medical and holistic health services, chronic stress and disease of under-resourced communities, and the medical-industrial complex.

We believe in whole-person care for communities who need it most. Research has shown that integrated care for people with chronic conditions improves physical and emotional symptoms, health, longevity, and morbidity/mortality outcomes drastically. However, in multiple studies, it was found that greatest alternative therapies use was reported by those over 29 years of age with more education and higher incomes.

We believe that healing comes from within and started with our ancestors. We challenge the medical-industrial complex. We value the medicine and healing practices of our ancestors and indigenous communities and believe it should be made accessible to all. We value the strengths of both traditional, indigenous healing practices and Western medicine and believe in integrating these strengths for a more just, liberating way of life.

I was inspired to start this project from my own personal experiences. When I was growing up in the greater Los Angeles area, my mom’s immigrant background proved challenging, especially in healthcare encounters. With her limited English as an immigrant to the United States from the Philippines, my mom relies on my dad to fill out medical paperwork and fully understand what the doctor tells her during her appointments. Yet, when it comes to women’s health issues, my dad’s comprehension is as incomplete as my mom’s. With the barriers of language and medical jargon, my mom has little say in matters of her own health. With an urge to help my family, I strived to learn of the complexities of medicine and healthcare as my mom’s medical encounters placed responsibility on my shoulders at a young age. Now as a MD/MS dual degree student at the Joint Medical Program with UCSF School of Medicine and UC Berkeley School of Public Health, I believe it my responsibility now more than ever to create and facilitate community-centered initiatives that address health injustices I see so starkly in the Bay Area. As the first person in my family to have a professional degree and become a doctor, I want to become a physician who is able to create intimate relationships with my patients and also bring an entrepreneurial, activist mindset to how facets of inequality and community voices must be included on conversations of healthcare inequity both nationally and internationally.

The Pollination Project grant funds will be critical for our community engagement efforts, especially pop-up healing clinics, events, and workshops.