Foundation For Integrated Medicine in Africa
FIMAFRICA is currently helping to treat children who have been abandoned for being born and living with some disabilities. They were rescued by a nurse who started Sangida Foundation.
FIMAFRICA initially started as mobile clinics for poor communities living with minimal or no health care (see video). They benefitted mostly from homeopathy, which helped to resolve difficult to treat conditions, as well as from nutrition and acupuncture.
I realized a day before that I was leaving for the first ever official FIMAFRICA mobile clinic, and tears came to my eyes thinking of everyone that has contributed and that finally we've made it this far - thank you, all of you, it`s been a blessing working with you.
It started on 28th January 2009, 7.35am, with the typical sunrise cutting through the cold African morning air. The ride was in the back of a red pickup, along with my bags stuffed with blood pressure cuff, stethoscope, homeopathic repertory, homeopathic materia medica, morisson's desktop notes, a whole bunch of remedies and my lunch of bananas, apples and a few biscuits - first time, no time to prepare healthy veggies!
I felt a bit self-conscious with all my equipment in front of the other people. I was catching a ride with them to save on fuel costs for the charity. However, my fears dispelled when I saw how excited and supportive they were towards FIMAFRICA’s first mobile clinic.
I need to mention an important friend I was with - Morten Kattenhoj from Denmark, who was working for MS Kenya, a Danish NGO. Morten has been a great help in introducing me to village chiefs, District officials, nurses, and village workers. Morten worked with the Yaakut people, a tribe whose language is almost becoming extinct (only 9 surviving elders who speak the dialect). The Yaakut people merged with the Maasai when the Maasai first came into Kenya. Without Morten, I wouldn’t have had the privilege of treating this community in the Laikipia North district of Kenya.
Cutting across the savannah on the dusty road towards Kuri Kuri, our target village, I noticed impalas grazing in the morning sunlight, and thought, how wonderful it would be for volunteers to come and see this on their way to treating local communities! Well, it's beginning!
As we approached Kuri Kuri, a remote village beyond the forest, I realized what a responsibility we have towards people and their health. Especially in the middle of nowhere, where it's tough for many of these people to access doctors who are in hospitals too far away. We finally arrived to the only building in the entire area - a school room with empty desks scattered sparsely around. I had asked to use this facility in case it rains, although I think it might be fun for FIMAFRICA's volunteers to practice in the open, under a tree or inside a manyatta (Maasai for hut).
No one was around, except for a few children playing in the distance - I thought this was going to be a slow day. Richard and Danial, locals of the area, had helped organize this event and had informed the surrounding villages of our coming, and reassured me that people will come once they see us hanging around.
They were right - as soon as the bags had been unpacked, medical books and remedies ready to go, the buzz outside was growing steadily. I looked up and saw numerous heads outside the window - they had all gathered so suddenly without me noticing. I was ready… My training at The Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine and on other volunteering expeditions had prepared me to give myself completely to medical practice when the opportunity arose.
First patient, 50+ year old man (age is not accurate in these areas) - walked in, pointed to his tummy and said he felt pain over there. On further questioning, we figured his pain was emanating from his liver area.
I laid him down on the wooden bench, 6 inches across, literally, for his physical examination. Just lightly touching the abdomen underneath the right ribs brought enough of a reaction to tell me there was something acutely wrong with his liver. I lightly tapped other areas around his abdomen - but the lightest touch near his liver area brought about enough pain to tell me to move on.
Further questioning revealed a lot of undigested food in his pooh, and sometimes his pooh was yellow or white. A lot of the people here don’t know the color of their pooh because they use long drops or just go in the deep bush.
Practicing in these areas with so many people leaves no time to do full homeopathic constitutional intakes, and the best method is to treat organ systems and acute symptoms.
Homeopathic remedies such as lycopodium, nux-vomica and chelidonium were coming to my mind, when suddenly Daniel told me that this man drinks a lot. I asked to confirm - yes, this man was on everything from local brew (sometimes 90% alcohol), beers and a drug called “Meraa”, or Khat in English.
Well well my friend, we know what to do first.
“Yes”, he told me, “a doctor long time ago had told me to stop drinking alcohol, but I didn’t listen. Now that two doctors are telling me to stop Meraa and alcohol, I’ll definitely stop.”
I wasn’t sure whether to believe him. Alcohol addiction is difficult to stop, especially in areas with no support systems. I’ve seen it many times. Well, I gave him an educational lecture of how the liver removes dirt from the blood, and how alcohol contributes to dirt in the blood and burns the liver - you have to use language that is familiar to experiences in the bush, otherwise it’s difficult for them to comprehend how important the liver is to health.
He seemed pretty convinced. We let him go, along with a bunch of remedies for his liver. I hope he’s well - I hope to see him next time.
The other patients came in, most bringing children with them and some with tiny 1 month old babies wrapped underneath a cloth fixed across their shoulder. It was nice, and difficult at the same time, treating so many people one after the other.
Many of them were too shy to speak up, or were too vague in their descriptions. Some were accompanied by their friends, describing their symptoms with two different stories going on, which makes you doubt your clinical reasoning.
One of the fathers seemed to think that the more symptoms or “yesses” he said, the sicker the child would appear, so that the medicine would be stronger. At last I found out that the child’s symptoms were from about 4 months ago, and she wasn’t even sick anymore - I guess he just wanted something to keep because there’s not much help out here.
The main cases we saw were chest issues, eye problems, a 1 year old child who had blood and puss that oozed out of her ear, another had severely swollen cervical lymph nodes and deviated eyes – a new condition that I had to learn about. A couple of children had fainting issues without any specific reasons, accompanied by headaches. It seemed to be a side effect of quinine treatment post Malaria, according to their common histories, but there was no way to tell for sure in such short time. I administered homeopathic china-sulph, a remedy which often helps with these conditions. A woman with a swollen goiter came in – I treated her with homeopathic Natrum muriaticum.
Since there were so many patients, and we had to leave early that day to make it back home before dark, I asked one of the helpers to examine which people were the sickest, and bring them in. It’s a pity that we couldn’t treat everyone, but over time hopefully more people will get our help.
I've decided to partner with a group that has conventional nurses on their team, and who also service remote areas. I think this will be important in terms of gaining clinical experience for new volunteers and also for me. I’m quite happy with the way it went, but it seems pointless if we're not furthering our clinical knowledge with others and getting feedback from experienced practitioners already in the field.
A SAD CASE OF LIVER FAILURE
Working this Monday morning was a treat. I came across a patient who had swollen legs littered with blisters. I wondered to myself what this could be, until the nurse told me he had chronic liver failure, from overuse of alcohol since he was a youth.
They had found him in a dark room in the slums, muttering to himself and staring in the corner. No one had helped him, and he didn't have the know-how of how to get himself out of his situation. It was the Sisters of the catholic mission who had found him in time, by God’s Grace, and brought him into the mission hospital.
I administered carbo-veg, a homeopathic remedy for liver cirrhosis and also helpful for a swollen abdomen from liver failure (ascites), which makes it difficult for a person to breathe while lying down – another problem this boy was suffering from.
After 5 days, I returned to the mission hospital, pensive at first, then happy when I saw the patient sitting in the lawn, blisters almost completely healed, his breathing issues gone, and edema of the legs almost 70% recovered! It was a start. I knew the problem wasn't completely removed. I administered chelidonium 30c, intermittently with lycopodium, 2 important liver remedies. 1 week later, I saw him once again, edema significantly reduced, no breathing problems, blisters literally gone. The only thing still persisting was edema in his lower back and back pain, which could be an internal problem or from sitting and lying in bed all the time.
Despite our efforts and the patient’s quick recovery, he sadly passed away a few months later. His liver was far too gone for complete recovery. I was sad and felt like I had failed as a practitioner. However, according to the Sister in charge, this young boy had finally experienced love and care before passing on.
HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE AND LEFT SIDED SYMPTOMS
A lady came to our volunteer table under the tree one afternoon, fairly healthy looking, yet she said she had been living with a sense of coldness in the whole lower left side of her body.
Upon further questioning, she described a sense of constriction and heat the upper left side of her body, all the way into her arms. The constriction felt painful to her. It was an unusual case, but not unusual for homeopathy. Measuring her blood pressure, we were quite shocked to see how high it was.
We decided to administer lachesis, a homeopathic remedy known to help with high blood pressure, strokes and left sided symptoms.
Half an hour after administering a single dose, we re-measured her blood pressure. At this time, she was already telling us that the coldness was disappearing in her legs and her arms were less painful. I was surprised to see a remedy work so fast. Another surprise came when the blood pressure reading had dropped by 30 points, systolic. I told her that - she smiled, her gaped teeth showing all the signs of satisfaction that gives us doctors a sense of positive reinforcement and dedication to our work.
A QUICK CASE OF ASTHMA
Driving with my friend Anne Powys to the Mokogodo forest, we stopped in Timau on the way to pick up vegetables. As we were getting back into the car, a young man brought a lady to us. She was panting and suffocating. She wanted a ride to where we were headed, not knowing there was a doctor in the car.
She had just left the hospital and was having an acute asthma attack that hadn't resolved with conventional medicines. We took her symptoms, and upon further investigation, found out that her asthma had a sensation of pain and constriction in the throat, and was worse in the evenings and during cold weather. She would often sit up in bed at night when the attacks got worse. Drinking warm liquids seemed to relieve her a little.
I gave her a homeopathic remedy called Spongia Tosta 12C, and were very pleased when the panting stopped in half an hour, and she could breathe again. After half an hour, we gave her another dose of the remedy, which helped her further. We gave her extra doses to take with her in case the attacks came back. She was happy when we dropped her off at her junction, waving at us, blessing us with her warm smile.
These are some of the special cases volunteers and I saw on our mobile clinics. Thank you for getting this book and hopefully my online course to help me continue this work. Thank you to all my dear friends who helped me manifest FIMAFRICA - especially to Giri Puligandala, who generously gave his time and expertise to manage all the legal running of FIMAFRICA. I'm truly grateful for all your input, inspiration and help.
We camped in the forested area for the night. Cooked food on fire. Made tea after. It was pitch black, we sat around the fire, Ameet Aggarwal poured us tea and asked if anyone wanted to accompany him for a walk to a view point. I volunteered.
We decided to walk with a small flashlight and our tea-filled teacups in the forest for ten minutes to reach the viewpoint.
Before leaving, he said: " Follow me and if you hear a sound that resembles a seesaw, stop immediately and wait for my signal, it's probably a leopard." My heart jumped to the throat after hearing that; I probably made an unsuccessful attempt to appear calm, however, I am sure he was seeing right through it.
Off he walked into the deep, dense, dark forest and I followed, scared to the bones, knowing that he was in front of me and I could be attacked from the back by a predator did a number on my nerves. He did stop abruptly for a few seconds, because he thought he heard something. I froze right behind him, trying to stop my limbs from trembling. He then signaled that all was good and we could move forward.
Just as I was visualizing my body being torn apart by a hungry leopard we entered a clearing:
Above: a blanket of endless stars winking at us like Bach's Prelude on a Clavichord, every twinkle was a sound of a musical note, falling down on us from Heavens…
Below: A dense silhouette of trees carpeting the valley…
We were standing on a giant cliff. We stood there for ten minutes, Un-managed to utter a single word. The profoundness of that powerful field of high frequencies had taken us in. The only thing we managed to do was to take small sips of our fire brewed Neem tea in that loud silence and bright light of unexpected miraculous God's reflection on Earth with tears in our eyes. Walking back to the camp, we were in altered state of existence...
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FIMAFRICA also planted over 800 food trees at various charity locations to provide a sustainable food source for people with HIV and cancer.
We also donated a fence for a vegetable garden to provide food security for orphan children living with HIV/AIDS.
Your donations go a long way to help sustainability and holistic medicine.