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Janae Weinhold – Psychologist, Author & Humanitarian

Janae Weinhold – Psychologist, Author & Humanitarian

One autumn, Janae Weinhold placed an order and asked about our ability to support her humanitarian work in the Ukrainian.

The Co-op typically supports local charities and individuals, yet her story of humanitarian work is compelling, so we wanted to share it more broadly.

It was April of 1986, three days after the Chernobyl nuclear reactor blew up, and Europe still had little to no awareness of what happened. Janae and her husband, Barry, were in Zurich that fateful spring, on a much-anticipated sabbatical.

Little did they know that their lives would be changed forever and that Chernobyl and Ukraine would play important roles in their lives for many years to come.

Psychologists (originally from the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs and now in Asheville, NC), the Weinholds returned to Europe in 1990 to share knowledge of western business practices and “practical” psychology.

Offering short seminars on their cruise along the River Dnieper in the Ukraine, the Weinholds spent a week together with 150 Ukrainians and 30 Americans.

Janae recalls, “The Ukrainians had an intense desire to get to know us personally, and we were able to do so through translators.

With the help of two Ukrainian psychologists, Janae and her husband facilitated meaningful cross-cultural conversations that ranged from the Cold War and politics to all things personal, including parenting and intimacy.

Janae said, “After our trip, we stayed in touch with our Ukrainian friends. We invited them and others to Colorado to study practical psychology, and we continued working to bring modern therapy practices to the Ukraine.”

Eventually the Weinholds led a team of American specialists to Kiev to assess the human fallout from the Chernobyl disaster. The Americans listened for hours as families living near the reactor shared for the first time their horrifying experiences after the Chernobyl nuclear accident.

Janae shared, “We sat with families and heard terrible stories of shock and loss, their feelings of being betrayed by their political system and about their antiquated medical system, which was ill-equipped to deal with such a large-scale catastrophe.”

Stories included those of villagers who stood outside, watching the radioactive fire burn the day the reactor blew. One woman obsessively washed dust from her deck, never considering the radioactive nature of the fallout material.

Sadly, when it came time for medical treatment, survivors were “given a pat on the shoulder and hugs, but little more.”

The government ordered everyone to leave their homes. They were told to get their pocketbooks, get on a bus, and not to worry, because they would not be ‘gone for long.’ Instead, survivors were sent to government flats on the outskirts of the city and were left there for five years without little if any attention from government agencies.

Janae made impassioned pleas for the parents to seek help for both their children and themselves. Collectively, the parents conducted numerous sit-ins at the Ukrainian Ministry of Health. These experiences helped participants become proactive and break free of their sense of helplessness.

It became obvious that suffering in the Ukraine would be long-term. With that in mind, Janae and Barry partnered with Ukrainian colleagues to create a psychological support network and leadership training programs for supporting generations to come.

In 1993, after three trips to the Ukraine, Janae decided to wear a dosimeter badge – a badge worn in diagnostic or radiology centers to monitor radiation exposure – on her next trip.

Janae matter-of-factly stated, “When I sent the badge in for a reading, it showed I had gotten 10 years quota of radiation in one week. I decided to slow down and stop my trips for awhile.”

In 1994, the Weinholds helped their Ukrainian colleague, Dr. Valentina Bondarovksaya, found ROZRADA, a family training center offering practical psychology services for Chernobyl survivors. ROZRADA later expanded its mission to include the delivery of consulting services to businesses, government agencies and schools – in addition to private counseling services for individuals, couples and families.

Given the huge exposure to radiation from the Chernobyl blast, cancer has reached epidemic proportions in the Ukraine. While radiation exposure and fast-growing cancers killed many within weeks to months, slow-growing cancers continue to emerge among the affected population in disproportionate numbers.

Janae and Barry, both published authors, specialize in a developmental approach to psychological issues ranging from intimacy to conflict resolution, and they apply their methods to support healing within their adopted Ukrainian communities.

While Janae has not battled cancer herself, cancer has hit her inner circle. Her father-in-law and husband have both battled and survived cancer just through diet and nutrition. Those experiences brought Janae to the Co-op through Bill Henderson.

Janae recounts, “My husband found Bill Henderson’s book,Beating Cancer Gently, when my father-in-law was diagnosed with cancer. He went on to attend seminars on Bill’s program, which is where he found out about the Co-op’s Multi Veggies and Heart Plus.”

It’s a fact that the Co-op has had a long history of referrals from Bill Henderson, whose book outlines a non-toxic, nutrition- and supplements-oriented approach to beating cancer. So if you are one of Bill’s fans, let him know you read about him through Janae’s story here!

As background, Bill has been studying all things cancer for over 8 years. Bill writes on his site:

“To get to this regimen, I have studied cancer treatment every day for the last eight years — since 1998, when I first realized all the information that was available even then on the Internet. I’ve sifted through hundreds of ‘alternative’ cancer ‘cures.’

I’ve talked to thousands of cancer survivors, cancer doctors, nutritionists, nurses, cancer experts of all kinds. I’ve read everything I could get my hands on. I am on a mission — a crusade, if you will — to help as many people as possible avoid my former wife’s fate.”

Given the severe and long-term cancer epidemic still facing many Ukrainians, Janae also decided, despite radiation dangers, she will again begin traveling back to the Ukraine.

She says, “I’m 63 years old. I’ve reached a point where I’m just going to serve, and if I die serving, at least I will know that I served.”

These days, Janae is known for evangelizing the use of the Budwig protocol (a flaxseed oil and cottage cheese combo popularized by Johanna Budwig) and also for sending nutritional products through her non-profit to her Ukrainian community.

Because most Ukrainians make less than $500 per month and cannot afford to pay for Western supplements, Janae sends supplements to her Ukrainian contacts for distribution to those in need. After starting this very much in-demand program, Janae called the Co-op to discuss potential supplement contributions.

Janae remarked on the changes she has seen in the Ukraine over the last two decades, “Many of the people in high positions in the Ukraine have cancer and are very committed to projects that groom future leaders to govern well and to face cancer as a culture.”

To this end, Janae and her husband continue to volunteer their time to help Ukrainians develop themselves – as leaders and particularly in the field of psychology, in a country filled with paradoxes.

Janae shared, “While there’s still much healing to be done, Ukrainians seemed to have reached deep into their souls and reinvented themselves, their culture and their hope for the future.”

If you would like to write to Janae or are interested in supporting her humanitarian work in the Ukraine, here’s how to contact her:

janaeb@weinholds.org or 828-686-5590

We’re happy to highlight Janae’s and Barry’s work and to spread their story of hope and humanitarianism. And, we are very grateful to be connected to such exceptional human beings.