Update from the field 06/12/2016 Not lost in translation…

We completely rely on our Gujarati speaking interpreters to make the link between us, and our patients. Not only what they say, but, sometimes to provide context to what they say. Cultural understanding is as important as language in places like India.

As western acupuncturists, we rely on a number of clues to help us form a diagnosis, and asking questions is one of them. The interpreters help fill in the gaps of our understanding so we’re best placed to diagnose accurately.

pic5Vanita and Dhiraj have been coming to the Ashram for a few years, and are very supportive of the charitable work done by Muktanand Bapu. They have just donated three classrooms in memory of their late daughter. They’ve always wanted to volunteer here in some way and had considered teaching English at the school or college. But when they were approached about interpreting for the World Medicine Acupuncture clinic, they jumped at the chance. Dhiraj’s mother had suffered from asthma for many years and was successfully treated by an acupuncturist in the UK, Vanita has also studied reflexology so they both felt this was the right opportunity for them. This couple are incredibly kind and generous people. They love the work and take great pleasure in all the successes. 

pic8Snehal and Darshan have already been changing the way they worked, both retrained from being a hospital pharmacist and in operations management respectively by becoming personal outdoor trainers. Their interest in holistic health brought them to India. They came straight to the Ashram from Goa after completing a teachers training course there in yoga. Like Vanita and Dhiraj, they felt this was the right thing at the right time. They do yoga on the roof every morning and Judith, Emma and Phil will often join them. None of my friends will be surprised that I choose to lie in!

Both are very engaged not just with patients but with all the people who live here that cook, clean, drive and help us at the Ashram. I admit to being just a little bit envious that they are able to communicate in their own language.

pic10Najma worked in the city and has taken an early retirement. A fluent Gujarati and Urdu speaker, she came a month earlier to help out teaching in the Ashram’s college and stayed on to interpret at the Acupuncture clinic. Najma is our Gujarati ‘google’. Whatever we want to know, she seems to know the answer – about the culture, the area, the language and about India. And she’s always one step ahead, anticipating what we’re likely to need. 

They are all amazed and encouraged by the success we’ve had in such a very short time. Darshan recounted one elderly man who said that no-one has given him time to talk about his health problems - ever. And some patients have very complex issues. While you can’t compare as we have the NHS, even in the UK, doctors do only have 10 minutes per patient. Vanita often says we couldn’t buy the amount of blessings our patient’s shower on us. There’s a lot of good will all round which makes undoubtedly for better healing.

They are as committed and invested as the acupuncturists. Our patients are their patients. It’s been such a positive experience that they’re all eager to come again - so that really says it all.   by Rita Shamia 06/12/2016