Africa is not just animal safaris, poverty and tribal life you see on your 24-hour news station. Africa is a vibrant continent where both modern and traditional ways are coexisting side by side. In Kenya, there are more mobile phones per capita than in many other countries. Broadband is becoming readily available. Every convenience in technology is available in the capital, Nairobi, and other large cities just as you would find in New Delhi or other developing countries. Still, there is terrible poverty in the cities and country – about 50% of the population – and remote rural tribal life still dominates the population.
Even though homeopaths have been working in Kenya since 1928, it never went beyond the practitioners’ small communities they worked in.
However in 1998, this writer (Didi Ananda Ruchira, an American yogi-sannyasi) arrived and decided homeopathy is exactly what Kenyans needed for affordable health care. Abha Light Foundation was born through a series of free mobile clinics serving slums and villages. ALF also started a training program which grew from a few homeopathic first-aiders to what it is today, a two year natural medicine college.
Community Development, Not Charity
I would like to say a word about charity or free clinics. Homeopaths may not be familiar with development work. Anyone working in the field of community development knows that “aid” doesn’t really work. As you distribute free handouts more and more, people learn not to work or help themselves, but rather come to expect things to be given to them. Such type of “aid” has done little except to develop a beggar mentality. People become more, not less, dependant on it. As a result, communities don’t grow at all.
There are different types of approaches in development work.
Relief work – this is to temporarily alleviate a disaster situation. Relief camps, medical camps will be treating for free.
Permanent relief – this is setting up a charity clinic in an economically depressed area. Again it may be for free or low-cost.
Community development – Pioneering the establishment of a local clinic or, nationwide, of homeopathy itself in the country. This work has to take a long view and should not be free.
If the foreign homeopaths coming to pioneer homeopathy in a developing country only give away the medicine for free, it will only give some temporary, immediate help and not lead to the long-term establishment of homeopathy. The foreign volunteer homeopaths will feel very good about themselves that they’ve done something for the poor of the world, but what will be remain of homeopathy when they’re gone?
If the foreigners are treating for free to the poor, how will a local homeopath hope to make her livelihood? It will mean that they, in turn, will need outside donors to support them in their work.
Pioneering homeopaths must think deeply about these aspects of their work. I appeal to all volunteers and pioneers of homeopathy to consider all aspects of how to establish homeopathy permanently in the countries they visit.
At Abha Light, we’ve understood this and we don’t encourage free clinics. People should pay something, should take responsibility for their health, even if it’s very small. It’s true, occasionally, when we get in a special funding, we will conduct free clinics. But these are done far and away from the permanent clinics our home-grown homeopaths are trying to establish.
What needs to be done in pioneering Homeopathy
There are several aspects involved in pioneering. Abha Light has been working through these steps over the last ten years.
Popularization & public education, i.e. “creating demand” – This is done with initial free/cheap clinics, mobile clinics, and PR such as newspaper and radio interviews, advertising, etc.
Training homeopaths, i.e. “creating supply” – I mean to say, establishing a school for training. In this way, you will meet the growing demand for homeopathic treatment. These local homeopaths should be able to make their own livelihood, and not depend on foreign charity.
Establishing a permanent source of medicine – that is establishing an in-country dispensary or pharmacy that can handle demand and not depend on expensive importation.
Legalization and recognition – Establishing a relationship with the Ministry of Health, public health, pharmaceutical board, establishing an independent homeopathic society to represent homeopathy to the government and to the public.
Treatment in Africa
Homeopathic treatment in Africa seems to differ somewhat compared to what today’s homeopaths are accustomed to in industrialized countries.
First, for many people, especially in villages, traditional herbal medicine is still a first-line medicine. People often try herbal medicine before they will go to expensive allopathic hospitals. This attitude helps homeopathy gain acceptance in Kenya and Africa. People see it as another form of herbal or natural medicine.
Besides this, Kenyans have joined the wave of popular demand for alternative and natural medicine. They are experiencing and understanding the dangers of side effects of allopathic drugs.
Secondly, much of disease in Kenya and Africa is still in acute form. Kenya and Africa is, as yet, only in the first generation of widespread allopathic drug influences. The miasmic and suppressed states of acute diseases are often easily reversed and treatable.
Surely too, there is a lot of chronic disease, and it is on the rise: diabetes, cancer, hypertension, asthma, and disturbingly too, autism etc. It’s all growing thanks to the increasing “modern living”, “modern diet” and “modern drugs” being imposed on Kenyans. But because we are still in the early stages of allopathic domination, comparative to homeopathy in industrialized countries, these too are often readily treatable.