Travel Report April 2011

Actually our first day of lecture started in the morning of the April 6, 2011 in Makeni, the second largest city in Sierra Leone and a 2 hours drive away from the capital Freetown. Our partner organisation, the Verein Sierra Leone Baden-Württemberg, had previously arranged a study hall at the polytechnic institute of the city. For the following 10 days this would be our school to teach the students our knowledge of homeopathy.

All course participants originate from the medical sector and have either already passed their 3-year nursing degree, or are close to finishing it. On the first day, they are still a bit shy and stand up every time they want to say or ask something. But over the next few days, the atmosphere becomes more relaxed; communication is more lively and informal. The students ask more interesting questions every time.

The course language is English, which no one has as their mother-tongue. Sometimes one has to search for the right word, but overall this is a minor inconvenience and even helps to learn the precise expression.

From 9 – 12 a.m. we teach the theoretical fundamentals for classic homeopathy. We do repeat much of what was already taught during the last November trip, and combine it with the education about remedies for injuries, fever and digestion-disorder. We use theory to discuss the inquiry and analysis of anamnesis, medical history and the monitoring of patient reaction towards homeopathic medicine. Especially the anamnesis practice is both enjoyed and done with required seriousness by the students.

For each student we have prepared the Organon, the standard work of classic homeopathy. We are impressed by how well they master the complex language of Hahnemann and understand the references in each paraphrase.

In the afternoon some of our students can delve further into theoretical subjects at our own clinic in the small village of Worreh Yeamah. The villagers themselves have constructed the shack out of wood and palm leaf especially for us. It even contains a small examination room, which is separated from the entrance where the rest of the patients wait. Our students help us by translating the local language of Temne into English. At the clinic we encounter many people from the surrounding communities with hernia and eye infections as a result from tropical diseases. Often, they also complain about headaches, pain in the neck, back and chest, as well as paralysis, fever and parasites.

On a Sunday we visit a small farmstead dedicated to the traditional production of palm oil. The oil is a typical regional product and is still produced entirely by hand. The palm fruits are being heated over a fire and then grinded in a wooden mortar to gain access to the thready pulp and the fruit stones within. This mash is reheated and filtered until the released dark-red oil is floating on the surface of the barrel. There it can be easily collected and sold on the local market. It is being used in every kitchen and even we ourselves can enjoy it plenty, which sometimes makes the use of digestion-friendly bitter tea necessary.

On the day before our last, there is great excitement: our students write their first homeopathic test. Both we and the students are more than happy with the result. They all have managed to understand the basic thought behind classic homeopathy and learn the relevant medicine. Finally we distribute knitted mobile dispensaries with remedies for their own use. For the results of their first experiences we will have to wait for half a year. The streets are unable to traverse during the rainy season, so that we have to wait until November.

We are very thankful for the help and support by our cooperation partner, the Verein Sierra Leone Baden-Württemberg. Our special thanks go to Mr. Konteh, who has cleared the way for us and Mr. Mansaray, who contributed with his excellent organisation to our smooth work schedule.

The thing that has impressed us most was the trustworthy kindness and generosity by the people we have met, despite their often very difficult living situations.

Our time in Sierra Leone flew right past us. The students and course participants eagerly await our return in November. They didn’t want us to leave, and unfortunately we missed the celebration for the 50th Anniversary of independence by just a week. Preparations for this event were well underway by the time we left.

Ruth Rohde

Barbara Böttcher


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