Update from the field - Chaparda 2016 04/12/2016 - Men's Clinic 

pic4Phil Montgomery is our team leader.  It’s his third time volunteering in Charpada so he’s pretty much earned his stripes and is now a Trustee of World Medicine. 

Phil works in the men’s clinic. Due to cultural sensitivities, male practitioners can only work in the men’s clinic, while women can work in both. So myself, Judith, Emma and Alison all take turns in working in the men’s clinic.  There are 5 volunteer interpreters from the UK, Darshan who is here with his wife Snehal and Dhiraji and his wife Vanita. Snehal and Vanita both work as interpreters in the women’s clinic with another volunteer, Najma. Phil’s role as team leader is to make sure everything runs smoothly. He organises the acupuncturists, translators and assistants and liaises with the hospital admin team to control the patient queues. Phil is keen to make sure we all enjoy and find the experience rewarding, hoping those who do will return.

pic5It’s not an exaggeration to say we simply couldn’t do our jobs without our interpreters. They translate back and forth from Gujarati as none of our patients speak a word of English. I hear on the grapevine that Phil does attempt a few Gujarati words and phrases much to the amusement of his patients – a little more practice is perhaps needed. 


pic6The men’s clinic has a rather unlikely helper who is a Bapu. Bapu translates loosely as “spiritual leader” and he is similar to a monk and wears the traditional saffron robes. Bapu takes out needles, does massage and Moxa (the burning of a herb to heat up the needles or areas of the body to enhance the efficacy of the treatment). He trained in acupressure, is very interested in oriental medicine and so has become an incredibly useful member of the team.

pic7The patients predominantly work on the local farms doing heavy, unrelentingly hard work. They generally suffer from musculo-skeletal problems due to the amount of bending and heavy lifting. There are also patients that work in the diamond factories, who sit cross-legged all day polishing the diamonds. For them, painful calves are a particular issue so squatting is very difficult. This is in a country where squatting is how you go to the toilet - so it really is a problem.

 Written by Rita Shamia 02/12/2016