My second assignment in Gambia, November 2019

Annette Sartori (June 2020)

This time I was prepared: I flew a little later in the year and took mineral tablets and especially light clothes with me to survive the incredible heat of this time of year. The first week, however, I could only endure by covering myself with a wet sheet at night, which brought some cooling due to evaporation. But the comfortable accommodation in the Lodge “Mama Africa” with its paradisiacal garden, the many birds and shady places made it easy to get used to.

After an extensive and joyful welcome on the part of our students, during the first week I held the classes already prepared in Germany and prepared them for the upcoming exams. For this purpose I consulted with the Gambian project manager and Mr. Colley, so that we could divide the teaching time well. Mr. Colley teaches our prospective homeopaths 2-3 times a week on anatomy, physiology, pathology and phytotherapy. During our absence, our students study in so-called “self-studies”, i.e. they acquire the homeopathic learning material themselves on the basis of written documents. Now that I was on site, I was able to clear up many ambiguities and teach certain topics “life”.

While I enthusiastically present and explain the various homeopathic remedies in our somewhat stuffy classroom, sweat is running down my back and face, while the students are sweating from listening.

In the second week I am busy preparing the examination, teaching and supervising the prospective homoeopaths during the Mobile Clinic. In the meantime, after a good 1.5 years of training, our group of students is ready to apply their acquired knowledge in practice. Therefore they go to the organized Mobile Clinics 1-2 times a week. Over dusty roads, past grazing donkeys and playing children, we drive to a remote village, where several patients are already waiting under a canopy. In small groups, under the guidance and supervision of already trained homeopaths, they are allowed to see patients and practice anamnesis techniques and repertorisation. Still a bit shy and insecure, the students ask their questions and try to make a choice of medication based on the information they have gained. I help to expand the anamnesis, to direct the questions in the right direction and to draw their attention to important details of the respective case. In this way we find the right drug together and work until all patients have been treated. If the students were still funny and talkative on the outward journey, they are now, on the return journey, quiet and tired, but satisfied.

On one of the weekends I was allowed to experience my first African wedding, it was an unforgettable experience. The bride, beautiful, all in white, with a meter long train and followed by 12 peppermint and pink bridesmaids and bridal youngsters, was brought in by her father. At the altar the groom waited with golden shoulder pads and shoe laces. Lifemusic, dancing and drumming, a gospel choir, much singing, prayer and the sermon, by pastors specially flown in from the USA, provided the appropriate atmosphere. Besides the local women with huge hats, glittering, tight dresses, lots of make-up and false eyelashes, I was of course hopelessly underdressed in my simple dress. At the end of the ceremony the bridal couple did a dance in the church and then all guests were allowed to put their donations to the bridal couple in a prepared hat. It was an exciting and colourful afternoon!

During the lessons

During my last week, our project manager GB from Switzerland joined us, so we were able to work and teach in a team, which is always a lot of fun. Through role-plays and little sketches we loosened up the lessons and made sure that the learned material was well anchored.

At the same time, we also carried out a large clean-up and tidying up operation. All medicines were to be newly sorted, catalogued and stored, so that there is more space in the treatment rooms and we have a better overview of our stocks. Until my departure we had not yet managed everything, but Gabrielle was able to finish the remaining reorganization with the help of Isha and Alhagie.

Now we are heading for the last year of training of this class and hope that, despite Corona, at the end of this year, all our students will pass the final exams!