Bill Grannell is a labor organizer, Oregon legislator, national political leader, local government lobbyist, commercial fisherman, teacher, creator and director of a national grassroots organization and co-founder of Mexico’s only homeopathic program bringing healthcare to its indigenous people. His life shouts of activism. As President of A Promise of Health, at age 83, he is still actively working to improve people’s lives.
KS: Welcome to Hpathy, dear Bill! In the past you have written in our journal about your homeopathy project that brings medical help to the poor in rural Mexico. At the age of 83, you are still full of enthusiasm and eager to support those in need. Please tell us first a little more about yourself.
BG: My goodness Katja, I read your introductory paragraph, and it took my breath away. You see, I don’t regard myself as any extraordinary person. It is, that just over time, these are all things that I have done.
I grew up in Denver, Colorado in a mixed ethnic neighborhood. My father, like all the men of our neighborhood, were what then were referred to as tradesmen. My father was a carpenter who studied at nights to become a structual engineer and he actually did. My mother was an at home mother who had worked as a waitress and would again return to it when I was grown.
My first radio was a crystal set that my uncle helped me build with wire wrapped around an oatmeal cereal box. On it I could get only 2 radio stations. I was born as the Great Depression was at its close. Franklin Roosevelt was President and World War II was about to begin.
I heard the English language butchered with American slang, Sicilian, Italian, Greek and German. I caught whiffs of corned beef and cabage, minestrone, moussaka and sauerkraut coming from our neighbors’s kitchens. I learned to love them all. From many of our neighbors who were either immigrants from Europe or first generation, I learned first hand about where they had lived.
From those stories and from those I would read about, I grew up longing for travel and adventure. When I was only 10 years old, I saw an advertisement in a magazine for a box of 100 sheets of personalized stationery for a dollar. I saved for a year to make my purchase and ordered my 100 sheets inscribed with my name and under it the words, “Writer and Adventurer.” As I think about it today, it was sort of prophetic and I still have the empty stationery box. My mother saved it for me!
I have always been an avid reader. When I was a child, my greatest gift was my first library card. My first visit to the library was like opening a treasure chest filled with dreams! There were books on travel, history, adventure, science and art. I couldn’t believe there was so much to be read and read I did. I devoured books and to this day, reading is still a great adventure.
Here, in my office, I have on one side a floor to ceiling library, On the other side is my upright piano, that I’ve had since childhood. Stuffed in between is my desk, computer with 2 screens, a clock and radio. My book shelves and those of my wonderful wife, whose office is also filled with books, cover a vast array of subjects. History, travel, art and classics top my list. Hers includes a good number of homeopathic, metaphysics and spiritual tomes – all great reads!
All my life, including to this day, I have always been up to new challenges and especially to adventure (as was printed on my first stationery)! All that I have done is and has been part of that adventure. Now at this time of my life, it is all a very spiritual adventure.
A Promise of Health is not only my greatest adventure but also my most spiritual one.
KS: Together with Barbara, your wife, you co-founded in 2001 A Promise of Health, a small U.S. based non-profit organization to bring homeopathic health care to the poor in rural Mexico. Please tell us about how you came to initiate this exceptional project of bringing homeopathy to action.
BG: The story of A Promise of Health and its homeopathic mission with indigenous people in Mexico is a journey. The journey starts in the 1990s when Barbara and I took a vacation to Cozumel, Mexico. At the close of our time there, I told Barbara that I wanted to visit Yucatan and see some of the Maya ruins. She had to get back to work, so we parted ways with her returning to the U.S. and I took a short flight to Merida, Yucatan’s capital.
I only had 5 days before I too returned home, so I packed it in during my short visit, never realizing that this would soon become our partime home for the next 15 years! Tours of ruins led to a greater fascination with the Maya. It wasn’t long before I discovered that ruins were not all that existed of this civilization. I learned that real Maya people existed today. It was not just a handfull of them but literally hundreds of thousands strung from Yucatan and Belize to Guatemala!
My passion for learning all I could of these wonderful people brought Barbara back to Mexico as well. From a contact in Merida, we became acquainted with families in a small Maya village of Huhí, Yucatan, where we often visited. From our new Maya friends we learned even more about these amazing indigenous people and how they live today. We also learned of their contemporary history which sadly is an even darker tale.
From the time of the Spanish conquest until now, Maya, as most indigenous people in Mexico, have endured incredible hardships. Well known are the scourges of European diseases and the lash of the whip brought by the Spanish. But little is known of Mexico’s long simmering contempt and revenge of the Maya for rebelling to slavery. As late as the early 1900s Mexico’s leaders were selling Maya men to work in Cuba’s cane fields.
KS: Considering that the Mayans were such an advanced ancient civilization their dramatic decline is a tremenduous loss, not only for culture. But the Maya still exist.
BG: Today’s Maya, as most indigenous people in Mexico, are largely ignored. Many exist as subsistence farmers as did their ancient forebears. They are poorly educated and are terribly underserved medically. In rural villages all across Mexico there is little or no medical care.
When a person is in need of a doctor or medicine, he or she must wait until the sometime visits to their village by a government doctor who usually has only one remedy (an antibiotic) to treat all ailments. Or the person can at great expense and time, try to get to a large city to then wait in line at a public health clinic or hospital for help. In Merida (Yucatan’s capital), we saw, at the public hospital for the poor, dozens of sick people who had been there for days, sleeping on sidewalks, waiting their turn to get inside to see a doctor!
What became sharply apparent to Barbara was that these people needed medical help in the villages or at least closeby to where they live. Why weren’t doctors living in Maya communities? Short answer, there is no money to be made there! Then why not more government doctors? Short answer again, government doctors are in short supply because they are underpaid and largely overworked.
Mexico’s government loves to brag about how it cares for the people and that medical services are provided to all, but the stark reality is that it is easier for a government to make those claims than actually achieve them.
KS: Of course, being fervent activists, this evoked your desire to change things for the better…
BG: After witnessing the incredible need for medical help in villages like Huhi, both Barbara and I wanted to do something to fill this need. Since it seemed impossible to lure a doctor from his or her comfortable perch in Merida, how about bringing a homeopathic doctor parttime to Huhi and maybe even to some of the surrounding villages?
A good reality check for any would-be Samaritan is the cost to do so. Neither Barbara nor I are rich, not even close. We had just both retired and planned to stretch our savings into splitting our time in Mexico and back to our U.S. home. So then, what to do? Barbara found the answer.
Both she and I have had incredibly good experiences with homeopathic medicine and we knew a doctor in Merida who was nearing retirement that had helped us both. We also knew that homeopathic remedies in Mexico are inexpensive and that treating people with those remedies could actually bring about a cure, rather than only treat symptoms, and without the side effects and complications of allopathic medicine.
The answer was clear, said Barbara. Why not ask our homeopathic doctor friend in Merida if he could visit Huhi once a week to treat patients? If it were a success, why not expand to more days and even maybe more villages?
She had all of the details worked out in her head. Since we both had experience with non-profit organizations in the U.S. she would put together a 501(c)(3) to raise a modest budget for the work and she would ask me to stay for awhile in Merida to organize our effort and assist the doctor in getting started.
I had just finished working with Maya friends in remodeling an old colonial house in Merida that could and did become our charities donated headquarters. I consented to her request and promised I would do it for one year to get it launched. One year, that was it.
KS: But you wouldn’t be here giving an interview if that had been the end of your journey.
BG: You and many of your readers know the rest of the story. The news is, I stayed on for more than one year. Now, 20 years later, I am still working, as a full time volunteer, with Barbara at A Promise of Health (the U.S. charity we founded to fund our program). Togather we continue our labor to bring much needed health care to Mexico’s underserved indigenous people.
KS: Homeopathy has a long and eventful history in Mexico. It was the first country to officially recognize homeopathy in 1895, and homeopathy is currently part of the pre-medical and postgraduate curriculum. But was your project acceptable to the rural indigenous communities?
BG: If you have never had a doctor and needed one; if you have never had a doctor because you could not afford one; if there was no doctor to be found within miles of where you live; if ever you or your family had ever had a life threatening medical crisis and no medical help was available, then what would your answer be?
When our first APOH doctor first appeared in Huhi armed with our first portable homeopathic pharmacy, the line of Maya waiting to see the doctor stretched out the door of a packed community building that was also filled with people waiting for their first appoinment with the doctor!
The doctor’s first visit to Huhi stretched into the night and still he could not see everyone. That is when we decided to see patients on both Saturday and Sunday. And, it was 2 weeks later that an old Maya man I knew brought me some sandy looking stuff in a paper cup filled with urine. With tears in his eyes he told me he could again comfortably urinate and that he didn’t need sugery, that he could never afford, to remove kidney stones.
As you might imagine, these stories, considered miraculous in this small Maya village, spread, and even more people came to get some small, white pills that brought them healing.
Bill Grannell with native woman
As a forever activist, one of my pet peeves is how we attempt to intellectualize obvious outcomes. Quite frankly, there is no one in the small indigenous villages who wonders about the greater good of homeopathic medicine versus that of alleopathic. To them and the tens of thousands of patients we have treated since we began, like all those seeking medical care, it works. The answer is simple!
But, I do have a story about Mexico’s homeopathic heritage.
KS: I’m curious about it!
BG: When just beginning our work in Yucatan, I went to Mexico City to interview some graduate medical students from the Homeopathic Free School to work with us. I needed a place to conduct the interviews and went to Laboratories Propulsora de Homeopatia, the manufacturers of Similia homeopathic medicine to see if I could use one of their rooms.
After telling APOH’s story to the laboratory’s director, he told me that he wanted me to retell it to his 2 elderly aunts, which I did. As it turned out, they were the owners of the laboratories, founded in 1935 by their father Doctor Rafael López Hinojosa. Similia is the oldest and most respected manufacturer of homeopathic medicine in all of Mexico.
When I finished, the aunts were overcome with emotion. They quickly huddled together and then offered to give A Promise of Health an amazing 50 percent discount and free transportation of any medicine we purchased from Similia! This deep discount in the price of their medicine had only been offered before to schools of homeopathic medicine!
Thus began a partnership that extends to today. This is the only homeopathic medicine we buy for our work!
KS: So the first stone had been laid and so much more becomes possible with the right people there to support you. How then did you get from Yucatan to Oaxaca where A Promise of Health now works?
BG: From 2001 thru 2008, APOH placed Mexican homeopathic doctors in 25 villages in rural Yucatan. Other than our first doctor, the others were graduate students, homeopathic doctors doing their first year of government service. During that time the doctors treated an incredible number of patients each day. Using portable pharmacies, they not only diagnosed and prescribed, but also they gave medicine to their patients.
When we thought it was again time for us to retire, we turned our work over to local service clubs to continue. This turned out to be a bad idea. We eventually sold our Merida home and thought that this part of our life was over. But, that was not to be.
In the preceding years, during my many trips to Mexico City to meet with student doctors and others, I had talked a great deal about the medical needs of Mexico’s indigenous people. Barbara too spoke at the 62th International Congress of the Liga Homeopathic in August of 2007 in Puebla, Mexico, to tell our story with hopes of inspiring others.
At one of my presentations I met a Deputado (a federal legislator) from Oaxaca. We talked about how a program like A Promise of Health could be of great benefit to rural indigenous people living there. Oddly he wanted us to go help the Mixtec people in northern Oaxaca. Little did I know then that is where our trail of destiny would finally lead.
Back home in the U.S. Barbara and I talked more about it, though after 9 years in Yucatan the thought of restarting our work seemed remote. The year was 2009.
KS: But you had an ace up your sleeve.
BG: Yes, as usual, Barbara had a plan. If we were to start in Oaxaca we would need support from people who lived there. Since we did not know anyone, why not begin our exploration with “hometown” migrant communities living and working here in the US. Barbara located several. The strongest support came from California migrants who had come from a Zapotec community centered in the small town of Ayoquezco de Aldama, southwest of Oaxaca Juarez, the state’s capital.
I have written in another issue about our clinic there and how we restarted our program. Also it appears on our website: www.promiseofhealth.org which I encourage everyone to visit.
But now to the story of Dr. Soledad Ramirez Medina
Dr. Soledad Ramirez Medina
KS: Dr. Soledad Ramirez Medina, a Mixteca Indian, is a dedicated homeopathic woman doctor who is serving homeopathy on the front lines in Mexico. How did you find her?
Most doctors, homeopathic and allopathic, are comfortable with their lives. Yes, I am sure, they hear of the chronic needs throughout the world, especially in the undeveloped parts, countries that are looking for healthcare professionals. A few courageously heed the call but most do not. I can say the same is true in Oaxaca. Its capital, Oaxaca Juarez, is where the money is and it’s the most comfortable.
Finding a capable doctor to accept and meet the hardships of living in an indigenous village while treating a seemingly unending number of patients is not an easy chore. Candidates for the job are few.
There are those who are looking for a way to support their retirement. There are those who are zealots who have an agenda other than our singular mission of bringing homeopathic healthcare to indigenous people. And, there are those who would like to help but only want to commute from the capital to work part time.
Our requirement is strict. To be part of the village and its people a doctor must live in the village!
After a full two weeks of talking to every homeopathic doctor in Oaxaca Juarez who would listen, speaking at the homeopathic graduate school, and asking others to look for candidates, I had nearly given up when late one night I received a call. It was from Dr. Soledad Ramirez Medina. She heard from another homeopathic doctor that I was looking for a doctor to live in the village of Ayoquezco de Aldama.
In our telephone conversation she told me that she was a Mixtec Indian and had been born and had grown up in a similar small village. She said that what I described in our program was the program of her dreams to bring a doctor and medicine to these rural people who were medically underserved and were in need of help.
When I told her it was a requirement that she live in the community she served, she had no qualms. As a matter of fact she warmed to the news. “This is a place I want my children to grow up, not in a large city or town”, she said.
She told me that she and her husband with 2 small children in tow wanted to drive out that very night from Oaxaca Juarez to meet and talk with me. Incredible. It is a 11/2 hour drive and late in the evening. Yet I told her to come!
So, in the year of 2010, A Promise of Health started all over again, this time in the village of Ayoquezco de Aldama, surrounded by another 24 villages, all without medical help. As it turned out, Dr. Soledad was an ambitious newly minted homeopathic doctor. She had earned her medical degree in allopathic medicine 3 years before and like many had a life changing experience with homeopathic medicine which led her to homeopathy.
KS: Fantastic, I love to hear these stories! Even many of homeopathy’s strongest enemies or skeptics became Hahnemann’s devoted followers and practitioners of homeopathy after seeing its remedies work. Hahnemann also gave instructions on hygiene and lifestyle, Dr.Soledad is also instructing the population about health protection. What does life and the health care system in the communities look like in rural Mexico?
BG: Excuse me but this is in part an amusing question. You see, as I have written there is no “working healthcare system in rural Mexico”, especially among the poor indigenous population. Yes, nightly on Mexican television there are government commercials telling about its advances in healthcare throughout Mexico. They claim they help everyone but they don’t.
Communities that Dr. Soledad serves are poor which means that most people are very poor. Like the Yucatan, many are subsistence farmers and herders. They laregly raise food for themselves and if there is any left, it can be sold and bartered for other necessities. That is why many from their communities have immigrated northward to the U.S. seeking jobs. These people in return send remittences home for the families that remain.
Dr. Soledad and her children live in an old government health building built in the 1950s. The building was part of an ambitious but failed plan then to build clinics across rural Mexico and staff them with government doctors. Without doctors, it was soon abandoned. When we came to town, the municipal government loaned us the building in exchange for our healthcare program. At least, we were real, with a doctor and homeopathic medicine.
KS: But again life was about facing new challenges…
BG: Certainly from our perspective, living and working in an old building meant to be a small clinic, was a significant challenge. During Dr. Soledad’s tenure with APOH, she has faced many challenges.
In December 31, 2012 she gave birth to her third child. It was delivered Cesearean and in the process the surgeons cut an intestine and she nearly died of septicimia. By March she was back at work! Her husband Arturo left her and the children, but she pressed on without him.
In the last few years the building has been further damaged by aftershocks from 2 earthquakes. Repairs that were promised by the municipal government have not been made and from old nearby piles of building debris comes each year another challenge of scorpians, spiders, snakes and cockroaches.
Through all of it, this incredible Mixtec woman and her chilldren have survived while she has continued to treat thousands of patients with love, kindness and respect!
KS: After facing all of those challenges, Dr.Soledad now faces the coronavirus pandemic and despite this tremenduous hardship, she never gives up. Please tell us more about it.
BG: For all of these years in Ayoquezco, Dr. Soledad and I have been in constant communication. She is a good and faithful communicator and as you might imagine, by sharing the common goal of bringing homeopathy to Mexico’s idigenous poor, we have become very close.
My wife Barbara likes to say that I have become the father she lost and her children, my grandchildren. Doctor Soledad lost her mother when she was only 9 years old and her father died in 2018.
Hardly a day goes by that we don’t share news. We have cheered at her successes. We cried with her over personal losses. We advocated for her in disputes with ever changing municipal governments in Ayoquezco. And always we have shared in APOH’s common goal.
When in early 2020 it became clear that we all faced a very serious health challenge with the coronavirus pandemic, we talked about what she should do. At first, not knowing the full scope of what was to come, she insisted upon seeing patients. She bought masks and more disinfectant.
We sent all the news we could find written about the coronavirus and news from other homeopathic physicians. We especially sent articles written in Homeopathy 4 Everyone on the subject. I spent hours translating many articles into Spanish so she could better understand them. Together we monitored news coming from Mexico’s national health agencies and also from Oaxaca’s state government.
As the pandemic grew, villages across Oaxaca were shut down. Ayoquezco’s weekly market was shuttered. This gathering always brought a large influx of people wanting to see the doctor. Ayoquezco’s 2 allopathic doctors shut their doors permanently, and Dr. Soledad became the only medical professional available to that community and the smaller surrounding villages!
By June, many suspected cases were reported. Sadly, there was no way to test for coronavirus but Dr. Soledad surmised there were infected people in Ayoquezco. Across Oaxaca, including the capital city, things just shut down. In town, most all stores were closed and getting food was difficult, Everyone was quarantined to their homes including Dr. Soledad and her children. Only one family member was allowed out of a home at a time.
As conditions worsened, for the safety of her family, we insisted she shut down and take her children to Oaxaca Juarez where she stayed with her sister.
Her stay there lasted only 2 weeks when she hit upon the idea to return and to consult, when possible, with patients by cell phone. Most everyone, including the poor, either had one or could use a neighbors.
She told me that she would only physically see patients whom she deemed an emergency and then only when properly masked and with gloves. Between visits, with the help of children, she completely sanitizes her clinic. For consultations by telephone, she puts each patient’s medicine outside on a small table that is also disinfected between each pickup!
KS: During the last years I’ve heard so much about her and every time I’m lost for words. She is truly a magnificent woman, sensitive to the needs of others and compared to Matilde Montoya Lafragua, the first Mexican woman who qualified as a physician and faced all adversities with ternacity and perseverance to finally reach her goal of becoming a physician. Matilda also practized homeopathy.
BG: Yes, Dr, Soledad is an amazing woman whose mind never stops working to invent ways she can continue to see her patients, to provide them with hope and to give them the medicine they need to become well. But, this is not to say that strict quarantines, difficulty in obtaining both adequate medical supplies and even food for her family have not taken their toll.
When the schools shut down, Dr, Soledad became her children’s teacher. It was another burden with which to deal. Sometimes lessons and homework extend into early morning hours, forfeiting much needed sleep.
Locked up with no place to go created family stress for her young children. They long to play outside in the plaza with their friends but cannot. The confining small rooms of the clinic only serve to amplify their longing for things to return to normal.
With the march of seasons, again comes the insects along with seasonal rain (sometimes torrential) and humidity. In places the roof leaks, but there are no government workmen to help with repairs. Even the municipality is closed for business.
In all of this Dr. Soledad has written of her fears of the pandemic. She writes of her longing to have a fit house for her children and a safe and clean clinic that is not always in need of repair. She dreams of a place that belongs to her where she never has to plead with government officials for help.
On September 8 she poinently wrote, “I want you to know that this is my GOLDEN DREAM and what I want most — to return to my home town of Yanhuitlán to establish a clinic for me and for APOH. IT WOULD BE A SMALL CLINIC THAT WILL REMAIN THERE FOR THOSE MOST IN NEED. It is what I want more than anything.”
Yanhuitlan Monastery and Town
What a concept amidst a global pandemic! Who else could have possibly given voice to this idea of a “golden dream” to build a small clinic, when all around her, the world she knew, was upside down?
KS: Tell me more about Dr. Soledad’s Golden Dream.
BG: It is hard to say exactly what motivated her to decide to act to make her dream come true. Perhaps coronavirus was the tipping point. The frustration of the lockdown and her struggle to continue to help her patients while living in an old and deteriorating building was no doubt deeply depressing.
I believe that when you are at that point, as you inspect your life and that of your children, your thoughts turn inward. It awakens your deepest emotions and values.
Dr. Soledad had long dreamed of returning to her hometown to help her people, the Mixtec. She had also talked about building a clinic but had no money to do so. It was all a golden dream.
On the weekend before her September 8 email to me, she had driven to Yanhuitlan (her hometown) to dream. There in the public park, where she stopped to cry, she met an old lady who told her she would sell her land upon which to build a clinic. It was at that point she decided to buy it. Then, only asking for moral support from APOH, she said she would try after the land was paid off to eventually, somehow, build a small clinic.
It was at that point that Barbara and I wrote a long letter to our directors. In it we attempted to explain Dr. Soledad’s golden dream and what it meant to her. We wrote about the nearly 11 year struggle she has had (well known to our directors). We wrote that we thought it was time for her to return to the Mixtec village of her youth to build her clinic and home. We asked the Directors to support this decision and to allow us to use some of the meager funds of APOH to help her achieve her goal.
KS: And their response was ?
BG: The response from the Directors was a strong unanimous yes!
We shared this information with Dr, Soledad. She was overwhelmed when we told her APOH would help financially to build her clinic. Very emotionally, she said she could hardly believe the news. She said when she purchased the land with a loan, she had no idea where the rest of the money would come from and had thought it would probably take years before a clinic could become a reality.
Since I have construction experience, I have offered my services to advise her on each step of the way which she has gladly accepted. Barbara and I will also do the same to manage the project’s finances.
KS: Surely, all the marvellous work you do and now your decision to help Dr, Soledad build a clinic can’t be done without the help of others. Who can you count on?
BG: Our directors, none of them rich, have stuck with us through thick and thin on this long journey, supporting us all along the way. That’s important. Over the years we have had many talented and dedicated people serve on the APOH board of directors and also key people serving as long running dedicated volunteers.
One of our first directors was an attorney who helped with our original incorporation as a non-profit organization. Another was an accountant who worked with Barbara to set up and oversee APOH’s finances. He is now retired living in Brazil yet continues to donate monthly. Two other driectors from Cedar Rapids, Iowa were instrumental in our early years in getting two motorhomes converted into mobile clinics that we shipped to Yucatan.
Our current treasurer, who lives in Hiawatha, Iowa, has had the job, 16 years. This year, on January 31, he turned 84!
Dr. Doug Brown, who lives in Portland, Oregon and is a practicing homeopath, writer and educater, serves as a APOH director and keeps Barbara and I going (crucial!). Doug too has written articles published in Homeopathy 4 Everyone. He and APOH secretary Larry J. Volman accompanied Barbara and I to APOH’s clinic in Ayoquezco de Aldama, Oaxaca, in 2013 to see our work firsthand.
I might add that all of our directors and officers are volunteers. We all serve without compensation and donate both our time and money. Though we are a small charity, I want to say our donors are exceptional and loyal to our cause. Many have been with us since the beginning (20 years). Over the years there have been some large donations, but most are modest, like our donors’ income.
KS: Often people who have less give more, and every one of us can learn valuable lessons from their compassion and generosity.
BG: Let me give you two small examples:
In Alliance, Nebraska lives an 88 year old nun who is of the order of the Sisters of Saint Francis. She lives at her order’s retirement home with 5 other very elderly sisters. She is an old friend of my family and since the founding of APOH, has always supported our work. As a nun, living the vow of poverty, she has no income but over 20 years she has managed to find on average $5 a month, which she proudly sends with a hand written letter of support and prayer.
This Christmas we received a letter from her with $27, all in small bills carefully folded together. It was accompanied by a letter in which she wrote, “I saved money this Christmas by having our secretary print my Christmas cards and I found some old stamps I had from last year that I could use so I didn’t have to buy any. So, I am sending the money saved to APOH. But, would it be possible for it to be used as my investment in the building of the new clinic? I know this is a bit early, but I may not be able to do it when the time is right.”
Of course it will take many, many $27 to build Dr. Soledad’s clinic but the early response from our donors to our letters telling of her “Golden Dream” has been inspiring.
A wonderful example is a woman living in Ukiah, California who learned about APOH by visiting our website. Though she lives in a small house she built herself, Dr. Soledad’s golden dream resonated with her. She generously donated money to pay the local Oaxaca architect’s fee for the clinic’s design. She wrote that she personally knew how expensive it was to hire an architect to design a home or office and to help Dr. Soledad, she wanted to pay the fee in full.
Of course there are many other donor stories, but the point is, these are all people we can rely upon. Now, I would like to add a question for you to ask, “Who can’t we count on?”
KS: Okay, tell me.
BG: This is where I must really scratch my head! Where in the world is the homeopathic community? In all of our years of existence, only a handful of homeopathic doctors, teachers and your magazine have reached out to us to learn more about our work and to support us! How sad, when homeopathy, upon which we all rely, is under attack!
Let me give you a good exmple. In 2007 when Barbara was invited to speak about our work at the 62nd International Congress of the Liga Homeopathic in Puebla, Mexico. Upon her arrival, she was questioned about her credentials because she wasn’t a “homeopathic doctor.” Then, when that was discovered, she was moved down the agenda to near last when most everyone had gone home.
Did she have an important message? You bet she did! Apparently it didn’t fit the “how important we are” agenda of the meeting. Puzzling, yes, that an invitation to speak had been extended in the first instance.
My second example is in 2013. APOH director, Dr. Doug Brown, was invited by Dr. Soledad to speak at an alumni meeting at the homeopathic graduate school in Oaxaca, Juarez, When his turn came, he was just introduced and that was it. Of all places, after Doug’s diligent preparation for his talk, he did not have a chance to present our work or his personal message.
As an activist, I have to wonder where is the homeopathic community in addressing these everyday needs of the world’s medically underserved? As we have demonstrated time and again with thousands of patients, homeopathy works. What better proving ground than that to demonstrate the efficacy of homeopathic medicine!
Why don’t we see doctors step forward or better yet forums of doctors stratigize on how homeopathy could become the world’s answer to these marginalized communities?
KS: I agree. But sadly, the decline of homeopathy has become a worldwide problem with homeopathy being taken out of the health care systems and higher education now in most countries due to the pressure of profit-greedy industries and ignorant detractors. Education is needed to replace empty minds and, taking determined actions, as the future depends on what we do today – as Gandhi said.
BG: More than 200 years ago, Dr. Samuel Hahnemann penned admonitions for homeopathic doctors saying, not to weave so-called systems from fancy ideas nor hold forth in unintelligible words, abstract or pompous expressions in an effort to appear learned. It is time for those calling themselves physicians to stop deceiving poor human beings by their talk and to start acting instead – that is, really helping and healing!”
Hahnemann was an activist! So why not your readers!
In 2013, APOH director, Dr. Doug Brown wrote, “For the work of A Promise of Health to continue and expand, we must find ways to educate, motivate and support more homeopaths to serve in the most marginalized communities.”
KS: Fortunately, modern technology offers a myriad of communication tools to better pursue these ambitions and connect.
BG: Fortunately for us, we have moved far beyond the time of my first radio, the crystal set. Today we are all inter-connected and at age 83, even I, who loved my old portable typewriter, have long ago moved on. Dr. Soledad and I communicate almost daily and sometimes, many times a day, by internet and telephone. For Barbara and myself, one on one, personal communication, has always been key to any success we have had.
Barbara, as APOH executive director, is a ready communicater sharing the organization’s overall strategy while overseeing the organization’s finances and our donors. Her binders of information travel with her and the move was no exception. She is in weekly communication with the APOH treasurer and always up-to-date with seemingly endless government reports. Under her leadership, we never forget our donors, who by now have become not just donors but personal friends.
KS: And amid all the events you recently moved from New Mexico to Utah …
BG: Yes, we put all our possessions into moving boxes, did some downsizing and still have some of that to go, but we are no stranger to work and now have our house pretty much in order. And, always, a top priority for us has been and will be A Promise of Health.
KS: There is nothing better than a job well done, as it is said. But A Promise of Health is more than a job, it’s a lifework pursued by spirits with a vision, and witnessing your efforts bearing fruits, a reward in it’s own right.
BG: Barbara and I view the building of an APOH clinic in Yanhuitlan as the legacy piece of our 20 years of work. It is important to not just do the work, as we have all these years, but we must leave something upon which future generations can build! It is important to homeopathy and especially homeopathy in Mexico to show the world that homeopathic medicine is the superior vehicle to deliver healthcare to the world’s medically underserved.
Dr. Soledad’s clinic in Yanhuitlan, Oaxaca, Mexico, can serve that purpose. The doctor, yet a young woman, has proved herself in her dedication to homeopathy and to serve Oaxaca’s indigenous people. The location of Yanhuitlan is perfect. Not only is there no doctor living there, but there is none in the dozens of surrounding pueblos and ranches. This is indeed fertile ground upon which to work!
For me, how ironic it is to land here, where nearly 13 years ago in Mexico City, a federal legislator begged A Promise of Health to come. Oaxaca’s Mixtec indigenous population is and always has been medically underserved.
KS: How can interested persons help in bringing homeopathic health care to the indigenous, underserved poor and help realize your dream?
BG: We need donations. We need enough money to complete the clinic and to build a fund that will carry Dr. Soledad and her work forward for years to come.
Donations of any size can be sent directly to A Promise of Health, P.O. Box 247, Hiawatha, IA 52233. Also, from our website, credit card donations can be made. To learn more, I encourage all your readers to visit the Promise of Health website: www.promiseofhealth.org
KS: Thanks so much for that inspiring interview and all the precious work you and your team do. I hope to see the clinic being built soon, that you can continue to spread hope and health, and that your model will inspire others to follow in your footsteps!! May many of our readers become true activists!