Report by Louise Hall
29th October – 17th December 2017
We landed late on Sunday 29th October and jumped in a cab straight to Hotel Adodo. It was great to have joined forces with GHP coordinator, Lyn Clark, who knew the Ghana ways well – bargaining a good cab fare is one of her fortes!
Monday 30th October – Wednesday 1st November Teaching at PISHAM (Premier International School of Homeopathy & Alternative Medicine), Accra
Being thrown straight into the teaching environment was a fantastic way to start the trip. On Monday morning I met Samuel, Edem and Cynthia – the current students of PISHAM – a lovely and enthusiastic group. Having graduated myself 3.5 years ago, I could identify with the kinds of questions they were asking – being able to support Lyn’s teaching worked really well; writing diagrams on the board and sharing some of my own clinical/pharmacy experience.
I understand PISHAM itself is going through a transition at the moment and it is a shame that it isn’t thriving with both students for the course and clients for Dr. Berdie’s clinic. Tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Accra, the site has a very tranquil feel and was an enjoyable place to teach.
Friday 3rd – Sunday 5th November Big Millie’s Backyard, Kokrobite Beach
Before heading to Kumasi, we took a couple of days out to enjoy the coast and popular Kokrobite beach. I was very happy to be able to swim in the sea – though it’s pretty rough so more like fighting the waves than serious swimming.
Big Millie’s is a vibrant place to stay and has some great entertainment – from Culture Night on Fridays to live reggae throughout the weekend. Dancing with Grace (who was involved with GHP until recently) during a 4hr downpour to live reggae was a particular highlight! I’d recommend getting up to see the sunrise and fishing boats heading out to sea. It’s also a great place to try some of the local Ghanaian dishes – red red & fried plantain remains a firm favourite.
Monday 6th – Wednesday 15th November Kumasi Homeopathy Study Group
In Kumasi we stayed at the Marigold Lodge – a short walk from the Maria Montessori School, where teaching of both the Certificate course & Diploma course take place. Due to the schedules of the students, classes are in the evenings, leaving the days free for seeing patients and a bit of exploring.
Marigold Lodge is very comfortable and also accommodating for Lyn & students to see patients in Lyn’s room.
Kumasi was the place where I really got to observe Lyn’s case-taking skills and get my head stuck in to the repertory and materia medica on a daily basis. We had some fascinating cases, which were great learning for the students and fantastic preparation for the next phase of the trip at Hope Homeopathy Clinic. The Kumasi part of the project will really come into its own once the new clinic is built in 2018 and it was really encouraging to see the diploma students teaching on the Certificate course. Exciting times!
Thursday 16th November – Thursday 17th December Hope Homeopathy Clinic, Mafi Kumase
Lyn, Bonsu and I travelled by car from Kumasi to the Volta region and the village of Mafi Kumase – home of the amazing Hope Homeopathy Clinic. We were warmly welcomed by Emperor, his family, Precious and Eli. The weekend saw all 10 Certificate course students of the Hope Homeopathy Study Group receive their Helios kits – a special day of celebrations. Then from Monday morning, once Lyn and Bonsu returned to Kumasi, I was in the practitioner hot seat!
Days in Ghana start soon after the first cockerel crows – as early as 4am. I was getting up around 5.30am and showering as the sun rose looking out over palm trees. Breakfast is served early, as patients can start arriving almost as soon as the sun is up. In the four weeks I was at the clinic, it ranged from 7 patients on quieter days to 33 on our busiest day! We saw everything from injuries to epilepsy, from babies right up to patients in their nineties.
The learning was incredible and I was putting into practice things I never dreamed of when I was studying remedies at college. The clinic has an extensive library and plenty of repertories and materia medicas – a necessity as the students regularly sit in on the consultations to assist with the translation and repertorisation. Alongside Precious, Rudolf spends most of his spare time at the clinic and both were increasingly valuable assistants.
I like to exercise and, luckily, Richard, Francis & Kafui (the kids living with Emperor and his two sisters) became my regular afternoon excursion buddies. We ventured into town, climbed many of the local rocks to see beautiful views and sunsets over Mafi Kumase. On other afternoons I would borrow one of the bikes to cycle around the local area and nearby villages. I also did a bit of teaching with the kids, as they’re keen to improve their English & Maths. In return they taught my a little basic Ewe, the local language – my accent caused many fits of laugher. We also had lots of fun with my old camera – they took some pretty spectacular photos!
At weekends I was taken to funerals, weddings, a festival and felt completely embraced into the local way of life. It was where I saw my first dead body – as Ghanaian funerals are usually open casket – a humbling and unexpectedly peaceful experience. Anita, Emperor’s niece, lives at the clinic and is in charge of the daily housekeeping, cooking etc. I grew to love the local dishes and have been missing banku since returning to the UK. I might have to seek some out in London! Anita, like everyone at the clinic, is a joy to be around and, as she speaks little English, and I even less Ewe, we mainly communicated in silly dance and laughter – there is a lot of laughter in Ghana! Most Mondays I accompanied Precious (Emperor’s live-in clinic assistant & homeopathy student) to the local market. Definitely a worthwhile experience – I bought a variety of fabrics and had a few outfits made by one of the local seamstresses – much helped by Precious’s translation skills.
And of course Emperor – a 64yr old reggae lover, laughter spreader, talented homeopath and an absolute joy with whom to work. I loved my days at Hope Homeopathy clinic and for me the more patients the merrier! It was an amazing experience to be treating around 100 patients a week, with many diligently coming back for the requested follow ups so we could see the remedies working their magic.
Volunteering with GHP was really wonderful and exceeded many expectations. I had the opportunity to work alongside highly experienced homeopaths, teach willing, enthusiastic and very promising students, co-head an incredibly busy and successful rural clinic and, in total, treat around 450 patients. I also found myself fully immersed in the Ghanaian culture and the fabric of their daily lives.