Ever since I qualified, some 12 years ago, I have been promising myself a trip to one of the homeopathy projects. 2013 turned out to be the year, and I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to experience this extraordinary and humbling challenge.
There simply isn’t enough space here to give a full and detailed report of our daily experiences; however, I will endeavour to give an overall flavour.
On arrival at Accra airport, I was met and welcomed by the group of people who were to be my companions over the next fortnight. Angie, Ingrid, Yolande, Emperor and the Indian doctors Kalyan and Kalisankar. Such a warm welcome.
On arrival at the campus in Mafi Seva, its too dark to really see what was to be our new surroundings for the next 2 weeks. A little weary from my journey, I slept until the dawn chorus woke me. This is a dawn chorus with a difference – a cacophony of birdsong and frogsong(?!); I believe I could be forgiven for thinking I’d woken up in the Natural History Museum, such was the volume! An early morning shower, taken in the great outdoors in a small cubicle (strangely wonderful!) and we are ready for our day. Everyone at the campus is warm and friendly, so much so that I felt as if I immediately fitted in.
The head (& heart) of the project campus is Emperor – an extraordinary tour de force who seems to have an inexhaustible enthusiasm for the project (and, indeed, life in general!). Emperor treats patients and organises all the clinics, both on site and the outreach days (more of which later). Yolande and I formally meet Doctors Kalyan and Kalisankar, who are to give lectures and treat at the clinics. Our lectures are delivered under the trees on campus and there is a surreal quality to our surroundings; yet, very quickly, they become the norm. We become absorbed in the subject matter – it is a genuine privilege to be studying under such illustrious teachers, whose wealth of knowledge is extraordinary. We only hope we are absorbing everything!
Patients tend to arrive randomly and obviously everything stops, in order to take the cases. We see the types of pathology that normally you would only read about – children and adults with hydrocele, ulcers that have suppurated beyond belief, various stages of malaria, snake bites, sebaceous cyst covered testicles, to name but a few. Watching Kalyan and Kalisankar take these cases and observing their subsequent prescriptions must be seen to be believed – truly awe inspiring.
At one of the outreach clinics – Ehi – we visit Pastor John, who runs a homeopathic clinic of his own. This clinic is far enough away to warrant an overnight stay. We work from 10am until 6pm, taking our own cases through a translator (students from the college in Accra) breaking only for lunch and the occasional coconut, direct from the husk; the most delicious and welcoming refreshment. The cases are so many and varied, the time goes by alarmingly quickly.
We take some time out to visit the water project that has been underway for the past 10 years – an incredible amount of work has gone into this project; it is now serving 33 villages which is a massive achievement. We visited the dyke & dam and climbed the rock face which is fairly sheer but climbable in flipflops, (as I proved but don’t recommend!). Once at the top we see the source of the water supply. The view was a unique experience in itself – we hold our breath for a genuine “Lion King” moment. The African scenery and the smell of the baked earth will stay with me forever.
Another outreach clinic – this time across the river Volta in a motorised canoe – again, the Indian doctors are insightful and precise – their prescriptions are so accurate. It is not only a pleasure to watch, but we are invited to ask as many questions as we like; both doctors demonstrate a huge generosity with their vast knowledge. In my case, serving to make me recognise again how much there is to learn about our beautiful art.
I wish I could convey here everything that we experienced. I do not feel I can begin to do justice to some of the things that we have seen; the wonderful Ghanaian people, who are so warm and genuine; the beauty of the red chillis meticulously laid out in their hundreds, to dry in the sun – and the glorious smell they generate; the sight of the stars at night, undimmed and shining in all their glory; the sense of camaraderie of everyone at the campus – everybody pulling in the same direction; the wonder of studying under the trees; the visit to the colourful and busy market – another experience in itself!
There is a powerful (and accurate) sense that homeopathy is playing such an important role in the community and that this project is providing a vital service to the Ghanaian people, both local to Mafi Seva and the outreach clinics, several hours away.
I would like to take this opportunity to say a heartfelt thank you to my companions on this trip; to Angie for her tireless enthusiasm and sheer hard work in putting the trip together; to Ingrid for her extraordinary energy and endless positivity; to Yolande for her companionship and the friendship that we began there in Africa. To doctors Kalyan and Kalisankar for their generosity and wisdom. Finally, to Emperor and everyone in Mafi Seva for making this trip one that I shall never forget and certainly hope to repeat.
Seeing the impact that homeopathy has had, and continues to have on this community has been a humbling and life affirming experience. I would genuinely recommend this course to any student who is keen to learn and to enhance their knowledge of the increasingly essential medicine that is homeopathy.