Jude travelled to Africa in 2009 to volunteer on the Swaziland and Botswana Homeopathic projects. These projects are aimed at providing permanent free Homeopathic clinics to these impoverished communities. The main beneficiaries of these projects are Men, Women and Children living with HIV and AIDS.
The following are Jude’s emails to friends and family back home during her trip:
11th June 2009
“I have arrived safely in Swaziland, it is an amazing country, a Kingdom, still ruled by a King who has 13 wives and is looking for another later this year! It is winter here and the vegetation is actually quite lush with almost tropical plants and beautiful flowers. I am staying with a Homeopath in a basic cottage out in the Country, no furniture but who needs a chair!!
Yesterday we drove out into the bush into a Clinic based at a school for children who have lost their parents to aids – a lot of them live in Child headed households where about 10 kids live in a house, they are usually related, and they look after themselves as their parents and grandparents have died from Aids. Aids is devastating this country and obviously hitting the poor and underprivileged first. We treated some older women who had lots of chronic ailments and were so sad as most of their family had died and their husbands had aids. We don’t know how luckily we are in Canada.
There is a huge contrast between rich and poor here and people are driving around in huge vehicles and then the indigenous people are starving by the side of the road. They have to pay for their own education and for health care – there is no state system and no welfare to be had. So lots of small projects have been set up by well meaning people to do what they can.
Check out the website Swaziland Homeopathy Project. I am finding it all fascinating and hope to learn lots homeopathically. Everyone has been really friendly and helpful. Do not have a phone and being able to get to the Internet is difficult so excuse any spelling mistakes etc as my time is running out. I hope to move onto the Botswana project in a couple of weeks
Sending you all warm wishes from Swaziland”
25th June 2009
“I am now in Maun, Botswana. My last few days in Swaziland were interesting. The homeopathic project is involved in a research study using homeopathy in the local city hospital working with HIV+ and TB patients. I will never complain about a UK or Canadian hospital again. Mbambe hospital was run down, dirty and disgusting. The main TB ward was filthy and the patients were lying on beds and under beds – very scary. Prisoners were shuffling in wearing shackles. All very surreal!
Maun is a cattle town with a sandy, dusty main street filled with people, donkeys (wild), cattle, cars and goats. People dressed in suits with cell phones mingle with the local women dressed in Victorian long dresses (really) with material in the shape of horns (they are the Horare tribeswomen and the horns represent the cattle they own). It is overwhelming in its chaos and very different from Swaziland. The weather is warm around 26 during the day and then very cold at night, no heating in the place I am staying and no hot water but otherwise it is fine.
The Project here has a clinic in town and gives free treatment to HIV+ and TB patients and we have line ups all day so it is busy and worthwhile. I am working with a homeopath, Anne, who has been here for 9 months and we are training two Botswanese students to become homeopaths so that they can eventually run the clinic for themselves, which is what I like about this set up. So most days are spent busy working in the clinic and then on Wednesdays we go to different villages out in the bush.”
3rd July 2009
“Another week has gone by! Botswana is an interesting place. It is winter here at the moment and even though it reaches about 26 degrees celsius in the daytime the locals walk around wearing hats and over coats! They really feel the cold and as it is desert it does get very cold at night or at least feels very cold as the houses have no heating. Not much food is grown as the land is too barren and dry so most is imported from South Africa. The locals tend to eat very poorly with tons of white bread, loads of carbohydrates, very fatty meat and no vegetables or fruit, however as they walk every where and only eat two meals a day there are very few obese people here. There are no Botswanese restaurants or any fancy restaurants in town only the equivalent of McDonalds and grocery stores. No high end coffee shops or places to hang out.
I am loving the volunteer work, last week we drove out into the bush (my favourite days) and passed a million wild donkeys and tons of cattle who just wander every where. After hours of driving on flat, sandy tracks we reached a small village and there were tons of people sitting in the shade under trees waiting for us. We set up in the local church and outside, there were 4 of us, two homeopaths and two homeopathic students who act as interpreters when necessary. We saw around 40 people ranging from the elderly to some small children. We took some sandwiches as there is no where to eat in the villages and no where to stop for a cold drink or whatever so you have to be very self sufficient – no place to go to the loo either!
The rest of the time has been spent in the Clinic which is now a permanent office space in the town of Maun, people who are HIV positive come and receive homeopathic treatment for free and we are always busy. It has been wonderful to see how well and quickly the medicines work at relieving the side effects of the Anti Viral drugs.
The contrast to all this is the way the ex pats live out here. Most of them work for the Safari industry and live in huge compounds overlooking the river and drive around in expensive cars. Botswana has a policy of high end, low volume, high cost tourism so the safari’s are very expensive so that few people come and the landscape is not over run with people. Botswana also has diamond mines and a democratic government that gives the money back to the people in terms of free education and health care. Today I worked in the local hospital and it is so different from the Swazi one. The hospital here is huge, very modern and all the wards have only a few beds in them which have all kinds of modern equipment linked to each patient. They really are trying to do something to help the people but with over 38 % of the population with AIDs it is a tough challenge.
July 9th 2009″
I had an interesting day on Sunday when I learned the best way to run from an elephant! I hired a local guy to take me out on a Mokoro – a wooden canoe made from a Sausage Tree – Maun is close to the Okavanga Delta which is an amazing wilderness region often called the Last Eden as it is totally unspoilt. The Okavanga river has its source in the hill lands of Central Angola and never reaches the sea. Instead it spills out onto the sands of the Kalahari Basin to create an oasis in the desert. Islands, lagoons and forests have resulted which support amazing wildlife and spectacular birds.
The Mokoro glides through the water with a guide poling at the rear of the canoe so there is hardly any sound and the scenery is amazing. After 2 hours in the water we stopped for a sandwich and a walk in the bush. We saw Wildebeest and zebra by a waterhole, wonderful varieties of antelope and tons of birds. Then suddenly we literally bumped into this male elephant that was in a treed area – the guide grabbed my hand and yelled run …. run and dashed off in a zig zag pattern away from this gigantic elephant!! Luckily we were able to get away but it was quite the adrenaline rush!! I am now staying in Maun for the next 2 weekends as I have had enough excitement for one trip!
It was back to work on Monday and a day of home visits. These are visits to people who are too sick to travel into the Clinic so you can imagine how poorly they are. I drive out (Works run down old 4 x 4) with my interpreter down some sandy bush track to a “shed” with one room where a client was lying on a mattress with old blankets on top and they would tell me how they were feeling and then I would prescribe for them. It is so hard to see people suffering so badly when they should be in hospital and a clean environment. Anyway we just do what we can and hope for the best. I now know why they send the “new volunteer” out on these days as it is so depressing.
July 12th 2009
“Well, the sun is still shining here, it is about 25/26 degrees celsius daily and I have had no rain since I arrived, it is the Kalahari
17th July 2009
“This week has been busy with Clinic duties and making sure all the children were seen at the Children’s centre. You want to try and do it all but you can’t – the problem is way too big! Hilary, the Charity Director, arrived on Thursday. So now she is caught up with what has been happening and is ready to hold the fort for the next 6 weeks. We had some interesting patients this week. One lady came in from the bush where she lives at her cattle post and had back pains but was really upset as someone was stealing her cattle and she did not have enough money to go to the witch doctor so that he could cast a spell on them!
My work has finished here so I am off to England for some rest and relaxation and a family wedding. So thank you for taking this journey with me.
To find out more about these projects or to donate towards the amazing support these clinics offer the communities in which they work please click on the following links: