Update from the field - Chaparda 2016 29/11/2017 Hari Om 

clinic2You hear it all the time ‘hari om’. It is a greeting that everyone here at Charpada says to each other with their hands facing together as in prayer. It has a more spiritual definition, but for us visitors, it’s just a lovely form of blessing. Always accompanied by a beaming smile and a slight bow. 

I arrived at the Ashram in Charpada run by Muktanand Bapu, after a 20 hour journey along with four other acupuncturists. Bapu, as he’s known, is a spiritual leader who has created an astonishing charitable oasis at what can only be described as no man’s land. The nearest shop is 45 minutes away by car, but here, all life blossoms. 

They grow their own organic food, there is a school for the blind, and an elementary school and college – many of the children are orphans. There are two sets of accommodation for the elderly, male and female, and a canteen serving home cooked, wonderful Indian vegetarian food. And of course the new hospital which has an A&E department, physiotherapy, a surgical unit, and where we are running two free acupuncture clinics through World Medicine. The residents, children and those who work here are cared for. Their education, food and wellbeing are provided for free.


Although I’ve been to India many times, and worked in a multi-bed environments, never had I experienced the two together.  We arrived at the hospital to be met by the many pairs of shoes and sandals left outside, and our first queue of people. Flyers had been distributed around 47 local villages and the turnout for a first morning was good. Five acupuncturists, five interpreters and a half a dozen helpers from the hospital treated around 80 patients in the separate male and female clinics. Most of our clients are farm workers so we had many musculo-skeletal complaints: bad backs, sciatica, neck, shoulders and knees unsurprisingly figured large. The youngest was 3 and the eldest 84.

Now I’m one of those people who, if I’m not feeling well, will see someone about it - whether a doctor or a complementary practitioner. I don’t try and ‘live with’ a chronic condition. I know from having my own practice however, that many do. That’s even more the case here. People have neither the time nor the luxury to ‘take a few days off work’. And painkillers aren’t a sustainable option. Some of our patients had suffered chronic pain for anything up to 10 years before coming to see us – and many had no idea what acupuncture could do. 

pic3I saw one woman who really stood out. She was 84 and had had an eye operation 10 years ago which had left her with permanent pain in her face, 24/7 - neuralgia. They say that this kind of neurological pain is even worse than childbirth. Yet she still got up every day, cleaned and cooked and milked her cows. You’d expect her to be frail but in fact she had a fantastic constitution. I’ll keep you up to date on her progress. All our patients can come back for a further five sessions so we have the opportunity to make a real impact on their health. 

It was a fantastic day and the teams gelled so well that it was almost like we’d done it for years.  As always with these things, it is the team that makes it work. Everyone here is a volunteer, wanting to help in their own way. But I’m sure most would agree, we get far more than we give. 

Hari om. by Rita Shamia 29/11/2016