Volunteering with Ghana Homeopathy Project 


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.

I am extremely thankful to Lyn, Angie, Jacqueline, Emperor, Eli and everyone on the GHP team who welcomed me on to the project. I genuinely can’t wait to go back!

Case taking at the Kumasi clinic: The young boy on the left was unable to stand, showing no interest in playing 
with his brothers and sister. After a split dose of SILICA 30 he was able to begin standing 
and was engaging with his siblings.

Ghana Report December 4th -24th 2017

From our outgoing co-ordinator

Jacqueline A. Smith

I would like to begin this report by thanking the trustees for their support in agreeing to sponsor me to make this trip. It was important not only for the review of exam results as proposed but as a necessary completion and consolidation of relationships made and developed over my three years as coordinator. There was disappointment and sadness about my decision to resign by many in Ghana but the opportunity to reduce anxiety and reassure people was invaluable on both a personal level and professionally on behalf of the project. It was an ‘Au revoir’ rather than a ‘Goodbye’.

I began my first week in Kumasi city and joined Lyn at the Marigold Lodge where over the five days, I observed several 3-4th year students taking cases and when requested, offering questions or pointers where appropriate. The Kumasi students are showing developing case-taking skills as they move into their final year of study and remain engaged with the teaching offered by Lyn and supported by me while there. The recent fast track CC group were also well engaged with their lessons, being very inquisitive and which was reflected in their performance at exam in mid December.

I arrived on the tro tro at Mafi Kumase in my second week to a warm welcome from Emperor, Precious, Eli and Anita. Here I also finally met the newest GHP volunteer Louise, who was feeling very at home with the rhythm of HHHC, having been there for some weeks already and reportedly loving the environment.

Much has changed at the clinic by way of improvements to the building inside and out. The block housing the flushing toilet, shower (with overhead pipe) and kitchen is completed and has external lighting. Lino has been laid on most floors and fans on most ceilings in the central accommodation building. With a three-piece suite and colour TV, the main ‘lecture room’ is very homely and well used even when no lectures are taking place.

The ceremony to award the Course Completion certificates was held the day after I arrived and we had a great time acknowledging the students’ excellent performances in the September exam followed by the hard work of Anita and Precious; to prepare, cook and serve the delicious meal of kenke, which was very much appreciated. We also made sure to celebrate with much reggae dancing until after 7pm.

Clinics were as usual every day from around 7am until early afternoon. Louise dealt with returns for previous patients seen in the weeks before I arrived and I then dealt with new patients. We did observe some of each other’s cases. I noticed a greater than ever before incidence of cases of fever. Perhaps that time of year being the rainy season contributed, with much of the rain occurring before I came. Already the Harmattan was beginning, the air misted with sand and dryness of eyes and skin apparent.

My final week was spent in Accra, primarily at PISHAM where I again seen many external improvements (shown in Louise’s emailed photos from November.) 
Julius was friendly and accommodating and apparently busy with the clinic. A few patients were seen on at least two of my three days there. Three 2nd year students were present for the predominantly exam revision sessions: Cynthia (heavily pregnant), Edem and Samuel (fast tracked to 2nd year based on previous experience as a cardio-massage therapist)

We covered translating the patients’ symptoms into the language of the repertory. 
I advised investing in a Thesaurus to aid this important process and to be very observant of patient mannerisms, tone of voice and specific descriptions of symptoms.
We also discussed the significance of hierarchy of importance attributed to specific symptoms being considered for repertorisation and prescription choice and reviewed the definitions of each. We did various T/F and multiple-choice quizzes based on the CC exam papers to test and review their general knowledge of philosophy and materia medica.

I spent the day before leaving, with a visit to Amanfrom in Kasoa. I met with Phillips, Mr. Emmanuel, the lab technician and nurse before Noble arrived. I was very impressed with the changes and development that have happened with the building since I was last in Kasoa. There is now a lab, consulting rooms, ward with 5/6 beds, pharmacy and space for teaching rooms on the upper floors. There are even 20 new student all-in-one desk/chairs. All the floors and tiling are completed and a new main entrance created. 
Outstanding completion is still required to provide windows and doors on the 1st floor; toilet bowls to be installed and painting throughout, but particularly on the 1st floor.
There is now a beautiful garden space at the back of the building.

I see so much potential in Phillips’s creation and development of the building. He is clearly committed to advancing Homeopathy in Ghana and ably supported by Noble who is willing to teach the Materia Medica sections of the Certificate course, having some experience after supporting me with monthly teaching visits to Mafi Kumase following webinars. They are very keen to get started advertising the proposed CC course and I helped design/edit their existing poster draft while there. I would encourage support and investment here as a valuable resource for advancement of the HIA charities objects. Especially where there is such innovation, enthusiasm and commitment as is very evident at Kasoa.

Many Thanks once more.
Best of luck for all the developments in 2018!
Jacqueline x

My volunteering report

by Jeri Russell

Three weeks in Ghana flew by, working in a very busy clinic where patients started our day off by arriving at 7 a.m. The case load was different to the types of illnesses I have seen in Southern African clinics – malaria being prevalent in Ghana and not seen in the areas I had previously volunteered. There had been more sexually transmitted diseases in Southern Africa, deeper illnesses it seemed.

I put this down to life being like the Garden of Eden in Ghana! Healthy fresh foods, less stress, more water and clean air. I saw more wounds and infections in Ghana and the newer bane in Africa, high blood pressure, was of about the same prevalence.

Of course, in a physically hard-working society the same amount of arthritic complaints and back pain were noticed. The reverse of that, of course, is that with a physically active life we saw fit and healthy priests from the nearby Catholic Church – aged from 76-90 years! Each was healthy in mind and in body.

My biggest surprise was the gift I received from an elderly woman a few days after her treatment – she came to the clinic with a guinea fowl! The guinea fowl landed in the pot that very night, in a tasty stew made by Emperor’s gracious sisters.

Eli (a Hope Homeopathy Study Group student) was with us so often, and helped me so much e.g. driving, taking me to market, taking me to a local funeral and the funeral lunch afterward. Precious helped me with everything during my stay too – kind and gracious in every way. Emperor’s sisters prepared lovely meals each night. Sadly, I had some tummy troubles after I was WAAAY too greedy with watermelon on a hot day! I was more careful after that.

I loved teaching the HHSG students, a really bright and enthusiastic group who are excited about the topics at hand and are all very keen learners. I spent the most time with Precious, Rudolph and Eli. I was delighted to work alongside Precious (she is learning so much, so quickly!) and Emperor. We worked together very well and very efficiently – he and Precious were both translating at different times.

I seemed to know how Emperor would prescribe, and vice-versa. It was a very rich working experience. I loved hearing about his time in India, and learned so much from him.

Of course, the heart and soul of Mafi Kumase was and is Emperor. When I asked a long-ago volunteer about the Ghana Homeopathy Project, she wrote me back and said, ‘Ah, the amazing Emperor’. I think that is a perfect description of his work, his home, his family and his life ethos. The amazing Emperor: caring so much for his friends, family, community and Ghana.

At the end of my stay Emperor asked if I could help get donations to buy an ambulance for the clinic. Well, at first it was a daunting challenge, but once I found that the price was 1/20th of what I expected – I thought, ‘I will find a way’.

Rather than taking years asking friends for twenty dollars here and there, I realised that I had a ready-made solution. We had lived in South Africa a few years ago and had hoped to sell beautiful ostrich tote bags to the game reserves. I had numerous sample bags and decided to sell those. When people heard that it was for an ambulance in remote Ghana, friends and ‘friends-of-friends’ leapt aboard the ambulance train. In a few weeks, we had the funds, and the donators had stunning, forever tote bags whose cost went to a wonderful cause.

I learned so very much during this time, and enjoyed every minute of learning and teaching in the caring and supportive environment of Emperor’s home and clinic in Mafi Kumase. I am grateful for this rewarding experience working with a wonderful team at GHP.

To those thinking about volunteering, it is a wonderful way to learn, study, give and receive homeopathic knowledge, as well as seeing a successful, easy-to-manage business model. Newly graduated homeopaths? This could be just the ‘kick-start’ you need for your new practice – or as a boost to established practices. If THIS much can be achieved in remote Ghana, think how your own practice would flourish after such an experience.

Thank you.
Jeri Russell

How you can help

Monthly donations, however small, are the bedrock of most of what we are able to do in Ghana. You can also give one off donations, and in memoriam.

To set up a regular donation to Ghana Homeopathy Project from your bank or building society account, download this donation form below which has details for Standing Orders and one off Donations by cheque.

Click to download the Donation form (710 downloads)

Donating in cash or kind

For online donations we use JustGiving which is safe and convenient. Donate by going to our JustGiving page.

If you have an idea for a fund raising activity, it is very easy to set it up as a page on JustGiving and link it to Ghana Homeopathy Project’s JustGiving page.

Good quality homeopathic books are welcome. Contact us if you have some to give.

Volunteering can be for you
Volunteering can be for you

Volunteering

Are you a homeopath looking for an inspiring break from regular practice? Then you can volunteer with us. All you need is a reasonable amount of clinic and/or teaching experience under your belt, and a keenness on exploring the African experience of homeopathy. Get in touch now to find out more. Please note that at this time (Summer/autumn 2018) we can support volunteers to cover travel costs if needed.

 

Click here to read what some of our volunteers have said about their volunteering experience with GHP.

A MONTH IN GHANA

Julian Jonas
by Julian Jonas

Night had already fallen when the motorcycle slowly puttered up to the clinic.  It was during the periodic “lights out” that beset the village every 72 hours or thereabouts, so electricity had been shut down until dawn. I would learn that patients often arrived at the clinic in this manner, sandwiched between the driver and someone riding shotgun who kept them upright. 
 
The patient, a lean middle-aged man, was already lying on a simple mattress on the concrete floor.  When I asked Emperor what the problem was, he told me it appeared to be an acute hernia. “He’s been here before for the same thing.  People come here all the time with hernias. Farmers, labourers – they work very hard.  I give them a remedy and it usually works very well.  They prefer it to surgery – which, at any rate, they can’t afford.  Give him 20 minutes, you’ll see”. At some point in the night, long after I retired, he apparently was brought back home. 
 
The next morning after breakfast as Emperor and I were seeing a patient, a man casually sauntered up and sat down.  When we had finished, Emperor turned to me and said, “You see?”   I replied, “See what?”  “This is the man from last night, the man with the hernia…” There was that grin again.  “He has come to thank us…  Says he’s fine.”  The man flashed me a broad smile as well, said a few words and went on his way. In Ghana people do not always have ready access to doctors and hospitals.

Emperor’s given name is Samuel Komla Tsamenyi.  He is the clinic manager and lead homeopath at the clinic in Mafi Seva and has a background in water engineering as the project manager of a water project in the Volta Region of Ghana.   Fifteen years or so earlier, an India-based philanthropic organization had sponsored the project to bring water to a region where people were needing to spend a good portion of their day walking long distances to and from a single watering hole which did not have clean water. Dracunculiasis was endemic, a particularly unpleasant waterborne parasite, better known as Guinea Worm. As part of the clean water project a rural medical clinic was established with a few nurses, midwifes and outreach workers. Several years into the project Linda Shannon, a visiting homeopath from England, suggested that it would be a wonderful idea to make homeopathy available at the clinic.  And so, the Ghana Homeopathy Project was born.

Homeopaths – mostly British – volunteered to travel to Ghana, treat the villagers as well as teach at a small school established in the capital city of Accra.  Emperor originally was enlisted as a translator, but seeing the efficacy of these tiny white pills he quickly became enamoured with the idea of becoming a homeopath himself.  Over the years he has become a very good one, with the broad range of experience that one might expect from treating medically underserved African villagers. 
 
Africa is something of a new frontier for homeopathy.  Aside from Ghana there are clinical and educational projects underway in a number of countries including Kenya, Botswana, Swaziland, and Tanzania. Here, a low-tech, inexpensive, effective and gentle medical modality such as homeopathy seems to be a perfect fit.

IMG_1748(1)

Before heading off to Ghana I was given the impression from past volunteers with whom I spoke that most of the cases in the village clinic of Mafi Seva would be relatively simple ones of acute illness or injuries.   This turned out to be not entirely accurate. Emperor does treat chronic cases and has become especially adept at finding out the emotional aspects of each as, as well as unearthing the causes. Homeopathy treats people and not diseases – each person is a unique individual with a history.

The cases were simple in the sense that they were fairly straightforward. Unlike my own practice where many patients have chronic degenerative diseases, autoimmune illness or complex mental states often complicated by medical and dental interventions as well as multiple prescriptions, the people I saw in the village presented with conditions and histories that were less involved.  There were fewer strands and influences to untangle, and, overall, responses to the remedies seemed to be more immediate.

Nevertheless, the vast majority of the people I treated presented with problems that were of a chronic nature.   Even the injury cases stemmed from incidents years or decades earlier, or involved structural issues as a result of repeated strain, lifting and carrying. Like most rural areas in the undeveloped world, the labours of farming, construction and other chores of life are not mechanized. There is a great deal of physical stress placed on their bodies. The women also have the additional effects of bearing and giving birth to large numbers of children.

Ghanaian villagers, again especially the women, are remarkably skilled at carrying things on their heads like large trays bearing piles of cassava root or a substantial piece of luggage. It is not unusual to spot a schoolgirl walk home in the afternoon with her books on her head. But years of such burdens can take a toll.

More to the point, the perception that the cases were simple was probably more a reflection of how the practitioner worked than of the patient.  Given the opportunity and inclination to understand the full symptom picture along with the accompanying physical and mental states, as well as explore the medical and personal life history, one finds a fair amount of complexity indeed.  Put more succinctly, you get what you are looking for.

With the case of an older woman who complained of palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness and general fatigue, on examination her blood pressure and pulse were fairly normal but a careful history revealed that the onset of her complaints was synchronous with the death of one of her adult children a number of years before.   In fact, within a period of several years, she had lost three of her children.

She was a reserved, serious person, loath to complain or share with others the burden of her losses. Thinking of her children always aggravated her symptoms, but she would only allow herself tears when alone.

Although there was a significant cardiac component, this was clearly a case of what is listed in the Repertory as ‘ailments from grief’.  More specifically, it was a case of ‘prolonged and unresolved ailments from grief’.  Based on this rubric as well as a few others related to her general demeanour and general physical symptoms, she was given a dose of the remedy that most closely fitted this picture. Due to the short length of my stay in the village I was not able to have any follow-up on these patients.  But I felt confident that they were given deep acting remedies that addressed the underlying causes of their complaints.

Old Lady

One hot and slow afternoon at the clinic in Mafi Seva, a taxi drove up with an old woman accompanied by three of her adult children.   While she lay sprawled out in the back seat, the children got out and approached us to ask if it might be possible to treat their mother.

They explained that while walking in the fields about three years earlier, she had experienced a sharp pricking pain on the tip of the large toe of her left foot.  It had immediately become quite inflamed, and she went to the hospital for treatment.  The inflammation subsequently had subsided until about four months ago when with no apparent cause it re-emerged.  This time though the inflammation spread and treatment at the hospital had proved ineffective.

She appeared to be in a semi-comatose state but aware enough to be experiencing pain as her face was in a grimace.  The bottom of the toe in question was quite black as was an ulcerated area about the size of a human hand on the upper foot in front of the ankle. The children were not able to provide any other relevant information.  But the lesions were profound and serious, appearing quite septic.  There was no way to be sure, but it seemed reasonable to surmise the ‘pricking’ in the field was from the bite of a snake or some other poisonous animal.

One remedy came to mind immediately that was well known for septic wounds and black discoloration. Historically used for blood poisoning arising from cuts, snakebites, or gunshot wounds, in homeopathic dilutions it has remarkable curative properties for all kinds of obstinate wounds or bad infections.

After the remedy was made up into a liquid solution and handed over to the children with instructions to give daily doses for several weeks before getting back to us, the three of them sat silently with their eyes going back forth between the small vial of clear liquid and myself. Doubt, incredulity and disappointment were written on their faces. I am not sure what they had expected – perhaps a direct treatment on the wound or injections or more impressive looking medicines, but my assurance that the medicine was indeed quite potent seemed to assuage them very little.  Nevertheless, they said they would dispense the medicine as directed and let us know how it went.

One unfortunate aspect of working at the clinic for a mere three weeks was that follow-up on many of the patients was either incomplete or nonexistent.  Fortunately, a little serendipity afforded a bit of feedback in this case, when we met one of the children in the local market.

Apparently, her mother had started responding to the remedy immediately.  The wound was turning from black to red, the pain was diminishing and her mental capacity had returned to the extent that she was talking again.  She said that though they were dubious at first, the family was very encouraged. Though it was still early in the curative process, the changes were fairly dramatic for such a short period of time.   Hopefully, the remedy will bring her to a full recovery.

Nomads

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Julian Jonas is a Certified Homeopath practicing in Vermont, United States since 1991. He has travelled frequently to India for homeopathic studies. The trip to Mafi Seva was his first to Africa.

Visiting the Ghana Homeopathy Project May 29th – June 11th 2014

jacqueline smithBy Jaqueline A. Smith

Mafi Seva

Chaperoned on the hot, sweaty and crammed ‘tro tro’ by PISHAM students Noble and Wisdom, we eventually made it to Mafi Seva, passing village after village of mud and breezeblock dwellings. The inhabitants, busy washing clothes or pounding cassava as we passed, always stopped to wave, smile and offer a ‘Good morning!’ or an ‘Akwaaba’

Clinic was in progress when we arrived and after the warm welcome of a hug from Janet (a project midwife and excellent cook) we joined volunteer midwife/homeopath Glenis Paulette and Emperor Tsamenyi who were treating a year-old boy with febrile convulsions. Having been given a remedy, it was now ‘watch and wait’ time. Soon the locked jaw loosened and he was able to take a little water.

Founding member of the excellent water project, Emperor took me on a tour to Buffalo river and later the dam, where I was impressed by the great amount of work achieved in the last twenty years to bring clean water to as many villages as possible. Thirty three at last count, I believe.

A truly committed and experienced convert to homeopathy, what Emperor is inspired by is the Homeopathy Project’s ability to help poor and vulnerable people in society, Since the early days of homeopathy’s inclusion at the clinic, he has seen many villagers being treated and cured of chronic illnesses and looks forward to expansion: ‘Yes, homeopathy will surely grow and continue to grow because we started small and now it is all over Ghana.’

Each day brought some new and some returning patients from nearby villages, having traversed on foot beneath the canopy of forest greenery or having sped in on motorbikes through the red dust.

All ages, from babies to grandparents, came with their various ailments in the hope that the power of the homeopathic medicine that that they’d heard about from a neighbour or a local nurse would help to heal their illnesses too.
Translations were carried out for us volunteers by Emperor. Noble and Wisdom helped greatly as well and received live experience of cases and the opportunity to try out some interviewing techniques themselves as plenty of patients arrived from early morning till late in the evening.

An opportunity for a chat with Glenis, who extolled the virtues of the project, made me aware of the often life-saving work done by both the project midwives and Traditional Birth Attendants and those based in the villages. Glenis had recently helped resuscitate a baby born not breathing whose recovery was completed with appropriate remedies. Glenis mentioned how much the MWs and TBAs had taken to using particular remedies, able to see the great difference homeopathy could make to both mothers and children in safer births and healthier post-birth recovery. Glenis’s input has been a great boon to their training and development and her own too. Admittedly, she says ‘It can be a bit scary working in that situation with little back-up.’ But the use of quick-acting homeopathic remedies has helped with that.

Providing us with three excellent meals a day, Janet contributes to the illusion that she is just ‘the cook’. Not so. Her welcome is emphatic when she says, ‘You come from faraway to help us and I am happy to do something for you.’ Janet is also a midwife on the project and so looks after pregnant and birthing mothers too. She has taken part in the homeopathic training and enjoyed it, saying, ‘I see that the project will be great in the future and I want to learn more and help as well as cooking.’

Kumasi

In Kumasi, exciting new project initiatives are afoot and I was happy to be taken to meet their instigator Bonsu Boaten,(a qualified homeopath who presently heads the Kumasi Study Group) by Solomon – an Accident & Emergency nurse in the local hospital. Solomon is, like Bonsu and the other members, incredibly keen to know as much about homeopathy as possible in order to put it into practice with the patients he sees on a daily basis. The courses being offered there in the near future will help remedy this.
I gave a talk on the history of homeopathy in the UK to various members of the Ghana Homeopathic Society, who were surprised at the present UK/European state of affairs but glad to be made aware of the advantages in practising in Ghana at this time. More enthusiastic would-be students came the next day to hear an ‘Introduction to Homeopathy’ presentation, confirming both the demand and necessity for homeopathic medicine as a more affordable and safer alternative to conventional options.

Grace at Pisham library
Grace at Pisham library

PISHAM

Onto PISHAM in Accra and the already-established school where I was happy to re-engage with the students who had been at Mafi Seva and delighted to meet again with Julius – and, for the first time, with Grace Rhoomes.
Both are incredibly committed individuals who have, despite recent family concerns, been offered land by local chiefs to build a clinic to serve the community as well as being in the middle of expanding the school in new premises.
2nd year student Noble remarked that ‘It’s a very good course. Some of the finest training anyone can have.’ While Wisdom had this to say: ‘Julius and Grace work very hard dedicating and devoting themselves to us and taking extra time for us when we don’t understand.’
Each of the students offered good ideas to help enrol more students next year and all sang the praises of the importance of their time in Mafi Seva working with volunteer homeopaths.

Barbara’s Village was a welcome ‘rest and be thankful’ after my whirlwind tour around the project with hot fresh coffee and char-grilled lobster kebabs, all to the sound of white horses rushing to the shore and the feel of ribbons of silky sand between my toes.

Volunteering in Ghana – an Adventure

By Michelle Shine

I came to Ghana with no expectations, having scratched three weeks out of my diary, I knew I was about to embark on a massive adventure. I had a heavy suitcase full of books and a return ticket in hand. I told Linda Shannon, my premier UK contact for the Ghana Homeopathy Project that I was happy to be used by GHP for my twenty odd years of homeopathic experience, and was only a little bit fazed by what this might mean. Over the last four years I’d travelled on my own to a handful of faraway places I’d never been to before, each one a step forward on my own healing path and every journey recorded with great pleasure in the old memory bank. But this trip was intended to be something a little bit different. On this trip I was to give something back as well as receive. The plan was that I would teach potency, susceptibility and chronic diseases to homeopathy students and I would take cases and prescribe in the little village of Mafi Seva (Mafi is the tribe) in the Tongo region, and also in outreach clinics.

Mafi Seva
Mafi Seva

I arrived in Ghana on a hot balmy night

and was met by Julius, the principle of Premier International School of Homeopathy and Alternative medicine (PISHAM) in Kasoa and Ben the taxi driver. I was already tired. My debut novel Mesmerised had only been published a few weeks previously and promoting it had been added to my general list of things to do in London: seeing patients, writing, preparing for my travels and taking care of personal business. So, with that in mind I began my stay with a day relaxing at Langma Beach. Grace, Course Leader at the School came to visit me and so we began a discourse that continued throughout my stay and one that soon blossomed into a beautiful friendship.

Langma Beach
Langma Beach
Grace, and stray dog
Grace, and stray dog

Then began two days of teaching at the homeopathy school in Kasoa, which is a suburb just outside Accra. The first day was the most fruitful, I feel. It was certainly the best attended. At one point, I had nine students in the class. I was to lecture on potency, a facet of homeopathy that I had studied in depth before writing my textbook What About the Potency? And I’m glad to say that my talk inspired a lively debate on the subject and food for thought for the students when I introduced ideas such as: the gentlest potency is not necessarily the lowest potency, but the potency most homeopathic to the case …

PISHAM students
PISHAM students

At lunchtime I was introduced to the delights of roast plantain cooked on a barbecue by the roadside and sweet, juicy mango, warm and ripe. The second day I found a little more challenging. My remit was to talk about ‘susceptibility’ a huge topic and that could be interpreted in many ways. My students were all in different years and I spent a while fishing for what they already knew about the subject, which seemed to differ from student to student. I desperately wanted to pitch it so they learned something new. In the end I can only hope that everyone took something away with them that they could incorporate to good effect in their own practices.

At the end of my second day I travelled for three hours in a taxi with Philip (he’s second on the left in the picture of students) over the Volta river and into the countryside to Mafi Seva where I stayed in the Mafi Seva community clinic that offers nursing, midwifery and homeopathy. The resident homeopath, who has been trained by volunteers with the Ghana Homeopathy Project, is an extremely charitable, softly spoken, hard working and jovial man that I only know as Emperor (I say ‘only’ because I have now been informed that all African people are given an African name at birth and a Christian name when they are baptised) and was immediately put to work as people come to the clinic at all hours of the day and night from all over Ghana, seven days a week, three hundred and sixty five days of the year. Volunteers and students come and go, but unbelievably, Emperor rises to the challenge of treating homeopathy patients without ever taking a break. And not only that, he also runs the Amurt project which has brought water to all of the villages in the Ghana Tongo region. The man is a legend in his own lifetime and also a character; he has a country and western ringtone on his two mobile phones that he sings along to whenever they ring, and they do permanently. On closing my eyes I felt I’d been teleported to Texas, and it provoked a yee-hah response from me every time.IMG_1022

Mafi Seva and its surrounding villages

house a farming community, and I would take a walk every evening through a world of mud huts with thatched roofs, and land growing corn, chilli and cassava, amongst other crops and a glut of churches, for every Christian denomination. I longed to experience a gospel service but unfortunately, I never got around to it. The people who visited the clinic as patients were predominantly poor and all desired more money, predominantly so they could pay for orthodox medical treatment that had already drained their financial resources to no avail. And yet, a way of life exists there that is comfortably slow and steeped in nature. Everyone says ‘hello’ in passing, ‘good morning’ or ‘good evening’. Children are exuberant and mostly smiling. I got the feeling that perhaps that was how life was in parts of the globe closer to home in some once-upon-a-long-ago time.

Village children
Village children

Judging by the cases we saw AIDS does not seem to be quite so rife in Ghana as it is in other African countries, but malaria is very prevalent. There is lots of high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes, which surprised me. Less surprising are the headaches, probably caused by the heavy loads that people carry on their heads, and the backaches and joint problems of the farming community. Many problems are brought on after a dream about a witch or some other belief in witchcraft. Impossible not to notice was the awful effects on the female reproductive system brought on by Depo Provera, the quarterly contraceptive injection. Ghanaians often don’t like using condoms, well who does? But the price women pay for a more drastic option is high.

I’ve been home for a week now, and have managed one very brief conversation with Emperor in which he advised me that he’d conducted ten follow-ups for of the cases I’d prescribed for and all of them had improved. But the most dramatic result that I encountered whilst there was a young woman who was brought to the clinic in an unconscious state. On examination:, she was cold to the touch and perspiring, her skin was very pale, her pulse was weak, and the lifting of her eyelids only revealed the whites of her eyes. I prescribed Veratrum album 200c, based on the observable symptoms. Within a short period of time her irises were visible through her semi-closed lids, and her forehead was warmer. We repeated the remedy after twenty minutes and she very quickly had the wherewithal to turn herself onto her side. Within an hour she was sitting up, and able to answer a few questions, and once she was able to walk, sent her home with some more Veratrum album 200c to take if her symptoms persisted.

In the few remaining days that I was to stay in Mafi Seva, between patients and the country and western twangs coming from his phone, I kept asking Emperor if he’d heard from the Veratrum album woman, to which he always replied in the negative but assured me that with a response like that to her remedy she was definitely going to be okay. I felt less sure, and needed to know from the horse’s mouth, so to speak.

From left to right: Martin, Gideon and Philip (students). Then Gideon’s wife Abigail and Emperor holding Gideon and Abigail’s son Philip - in Mafi Seva
From left to right: Martin, Gideon and Philip (students). Then Gideon’s wife Abigail and Emperor holding Gideon and Abigail’s son Philip – in Mafi Seva

After six days in Mafi Seva I returned to Kasoa for another day of teaching, this time on Chronic Diseases which we tackled using miasms as a gateway. The student’s interest peaked when we discussed Cancer, especially when I divulged that all orthodox hormonal treatments are known to cause it. For lunch I was introduced to fried cassava and hot chilli sauce which is incredibly delicious, although unable to be savoured as I was requested to take the case of one of the student’s who was in the throes of an acute whilst I ate. The next day was spent in an outreach clinic, taking cases with the students who acted as my translators. When we took the case of a woman who was being very evasive with answers to our questions, I happened to mention to the student next to me that I was considering the remedy Arsenicum album. He immediately asked her if she trusted us (an Arsenicum album characteristic is not to trust their physician). She said yes, of course but I had to point out to him that he needn’t have asked that question, the way she was behaving told us everything we needed to know in that direction.

And then back again to Mafi Seva for another four days of continuous patients, and fresh organic foods prepared for us by the nurses and midwives. Whilst I was there I was invited to attend two births. The first was very joyful, a young first time mother who gave birth to a healthy baby. The second was a stillbirth, which left me saddened. Both babies were born in the early hours.

As night comes on about 6pm

and seemingly very quickly, everyone retires early and is up before dawn. One morning around 4am I heard drumming and singing coming closer and closer towards the clinic, I rushed out of my room to see what was going on. A long line of young people ran past to their own musical accompaniment, and I turned to one of the nurses who happened to be standing next to me and asked what they were celebrating.

‘They’re just jogging,’ she replied.

Just Joggin - the Mafi Seva way
Just Joggin – the Mafi Seva way

During my second stay in Mafi Seva Emperor put me out of my misery. He had seen the brother of our Veratrum album lady and was informed that she had completely recovered from her little episode. Oh, she of little faith! I was very relieved.

When I left Mafi Seva for the second time I was once again very tired. I think I must have seen around 60 patients in a relatively short period of time. So, I returned to the beach for a few days of relaxation before going home. I stayed at a place called Big Milly’s, owned by a British woman who is neither big nor called Milly, but who has a fabulous staff of very friendly people and an establishment with a very laid back atmosphere. It was the perfect place to reflect on a wonderful and satisfying experience.

Big Milly's
Big Milly’s
portrait of Michelle ShineMichelle Shine lives in London, England. For twenty years she ran a successful homeopathic practice. She is the author of What About the Potency? A homeopathic textbook now in its third edition and The Subtle Art of Healing, a novella which was longlisted for the Cinnamon Press Novella Award in 2007. Her short stories have appeared in Grey Sparrow, Liar’s League, Epiphany, and several collections. Her debut novel, Mesmerised, is out now in paperback in the UK and on kindle worldwide. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Birkbeck University.

Volunteering in Ghana 29th August to 18th September 2012

[singlepic id=124 w=320 h=240 float=left]By Jane Greenwood, podiatrist

In June 2012 I took the decision to leave the NHS after 25 years of service, latterly as a specialist podiatrist in long term conditions. This gave me the opportunity to fulfil an ambition of travelling to a developing country as a volunteer utilising and sharing the skills and knowledge I had gained over the years in the profession.

By chance, a serendipitous phone call alerted me to a project in Ghana. Ralf Jeutter, a newly qualified podiatrist and experienced homeopath, and Claire Duguid a podiatry lecturer from the University of East London, were heading to Accra and Mafi Seva, Ghana in July 2012. Both were to focus on diabetes and wound care from an educational and practical perspective. The organising GHP team work in partnership to develop Ghanaian homeopathy through low cost clinics, education and training. And more so, the Ghanaian Department of Health have identified a need for education in orthodox medicine throughout the traditional and alternative medicine practice. This seemed an ideal development to become involved in, especially as I am the podiatry members’ representative for the Faculty of Homoeopathy and have an interest in that area.

Preparations began. Fundraising was a big part of the mission, and so spreading the word to many people was a way of initiating this. During this process a podiatry colleague requested to join me and so, Sobia Mansoor a specialist podiatrist in long-term conditions joined the cause. A Just Giving donation web page was developed which not only raised funds for the charity, but also mapped the growth of the planned visit with images and messages, the latter maintaining morale when complications arose. These included day trips to London to obtain visas, underestimated costs and time involved following a visit to the travel clinic for vaccinations and malarial prophylaxis, and donations of dressings. Fortunately, all obstacles were overcome.

The podiatry profession does not formally exist in Ghana, however diabetes diagnosis is on the increase and the people suffer the consequences of a lack of knowledge on how to manage the condition. Hence, subsequent wound care is often neglected within the official health system and the individual is left to seek help from private traditional and alternative medicine practitioners. Sobia and I were to continue the education that Ralf and Claire had initiated within diabetes and wound care.

[singlepic id=123 w=320 h=240 float=left]Our first part of the trip was based at the community health centre in Mafi Seva under the direction of Emperor, a homoeopath and local leader. Here the dedicated team of staff, who work around the clock to offer a rural point of contact for all health needs, made us feel very welcome. We were exposed to conditions rarely seen in UK podiatry practice, such as snakebites, wounds from machetes, and malaria. The ulcerations were severe and the patients had often been discharged from the official health system without much explanation or follow-up. To help, we were able to offer half of the dressing donations to the clinic and training in basic hand hygiene and wound care. Plus, I was able to suggest the use of some remedies which may hasten wound healing. In return, the integrated team taught us skills of working with interpreters and dealing with medical issues when there is no medic available. The result of this meant we were largely incorporated into rural Ghanaian life, and benefited from cultural visits to local churches, villages, and the water project.

The second part of our trip took us back to the capital of Ghana and to the Premier International School of Homeopathy and Alternative Medicine (PISHAM). Under the guidance of the principle Julius Berdie, pharmacist and homeopath, the students were keen to hear about diabetes and wound care. Through Sobia and my demonstrations on hand hygiene, wound care, and vascular and neurological assessments, the students were able to partake in practical learning. Power point and white board presentation aided the teaching methodology. The other half of the donated dressings were utilised on patients who attended the teaching clinic, and again severe chronic cases were seen. A feedback form from the students of PISHAM indicated the majority found the sessions useful, especially the different techniques used in patient care. They all requested more information and showed unwavering enthusiasm for the subject area. It was hard to leave this eagerness and they expressed a strong desire for us to return soon.

Upon reflection, the trip was hard at times both physically and emotionally. The challenges of no clean running water, and very often no electricity, were overcome. However, so much more can be done to continue to help these areas of low resources. I believe the longest lasting gift that can be given is education. I learned that spirituality and the belief in traditional methods is strong and our orthodox approach is sometimes shocking for them to hear and understand. For example, when I stated in church that diabetes was incurable, there was a sharp intake of breath from the congregation. By integrating orthodox methods into traditional and alternative methods and vice versa, a suitable outcome can be gained for all parties. I appreciate the need for this to continue so I look forward to reading the report from the next volunteers.

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