HWB Homeopathy Fundamentals Program Transitions to Next Phase: Students Become Teachers

/ Thursday, November 8th, 2012 / No Comments »

The red-eye flight from San Francisco to Miami and the short hop to Port-au-Prince are a familiar pattern now—just a blink between my San Francisco life and the jaunty-shirted fellows playing Creole music at the airport, the guest house in our Delmas neighborhood of P-a-P, and the greetings of the students as we gather for class. Our intrepid Dutch-recently-become-U.S.-citizen colleague, Marina Braun, has been working with Jeremy Sherr’s malaria / AIDS clinic in Tanzania, and joined us to introduce the therapeutics she learned there.

Back in the “Biblyotek” library of the school for class, she introduced her malaria lecture in French, without the need for a translator, and it was easy to see how positively the students respond when being spoken to directly. On the second day of class, we had a review of core concepts that was taught by PG, our remarkably capable student / translator. Again the entire dynamic of the classroom changed when the teaching was being done in their language—students increased their participation. All good news as we begin to transition the classroom training program to one with Haitians teaching Haitians, and have our volunteers focusing on clinical training.

Discussing homeopathic therapeutics for malaria

HWB translator, PG, Karen and Marina discussing therapeutics for malaria.

A volunteer from last trip, Sheila Muldaur, led an effort over the past six weeks to create a graphic reference document for the Haitian students. Working with other volunteers who have been with us in Haiti, translators, local artists in her Massachusetts hometown, and existing English language documents, she created Haitian man, woman and child graphics that have quick reminders of common complaints and best therapeutic options. Sheila found a printer willing to donate cardstock and printing to provide copies of these for all of the P-a-P and Belle Anse students, and overcame the Hurricane Sandy logistical challenges to get the box of documents to us to bring on this trip. The students LOVED THESE! They send a big thanks to Sheila and the other volunteers who worked hard to create these.

Haitian homeopathy students working with client.

Students in clinic check the Haitian man and woman reference charts as they work with a client.

Clinic was run differently this time. Holly announced that in the five visits we have had in Haiti since this training program began last February, our volunteers and students have seen 748 clients in various locations!! These students have seen many clients now and have more skills to apply in clinic. Some worked in independent teams, bringing in a supervisor if there are questions or they get stuck, but doing much on their own. They had actually held a few clinics on their own between the last visit and our arrival this time. Their skills are still developing, but they have all the tools they need to continue to increase their competencies as they work together, which led us to today’s graduation ceremony for the “homeopathy fundamentals” program. Our students received their certificates and each is now known as “homeopathe communautaire,” a community homeopath to serve in their various communities for acute / trauma, common complaints, epidemic disease and health education.

Haitian homeopathy student receives training certificate.

One of our students, Loveline Renelius, receives her certificate from Holly and Karen.

Loveline is a nurse here in P-a-P. Today, she told about her doubts as she was beginning to study homeopathy with us—and her surprise when she was seeing it work with the people she helped, to the point that she had people coming to her asking to buy the remedies from her. She shared with the group that she had been troubled with an ovarian cyst, which she had been told needed to be removed. During the September training session, she had received a remedy from our homeopath/midwife Lauren Fox for this, and today reported to the group that she had been back to her clinic for followup and the cyst was gone, along with her doubts! Other students told stories. One student ended up in the class because he happened to be in the building that day of the first session, an important coincidence in his life now. Several were very nervous about the student assessment interviews they were required to do with me in September. One thought working with adult clients easier than little children, until he had a case of an elderly woman who was unclear and confused, and Holly reminded him that working with children was not so bad. One student was surprised at the various ways the homeopathics can be used, so different from the conventional medicine that she already practiced at work. One student talked about being a quiet, reserved person who had opened up while taking these classes, and several talked of the friendship of the student group. All thanked us for being there, for returning each time to teach and help them so that they can help themselves and those around them.

Haitian homeopathy students with certificates and "Homeopathe Communautaire" shirts.

Once all the certificates were awarded, each student received a shirt with “Homeopathe Communautaire” embroidered on it.

This project has come so far since I began with it in April. First, a rather unsettling early session where the students said almost nothing, and were uncomfortable asking questions of clients because it seemed impolite or invasive to ask those things. Then, another session where they started talking and had so many questions that I thought it must be different people altogether. That was the point where we figured out there were vision issues for some of them and simple reading glasses needed to be part of our dispensary. We had a discussion about epidemic prophylaxis where you could see from the looks on their faces that they were grasping the potential breadth of what they were learning. We watched their gradually increasing skills in clinic and the greater perception demonstrated by their questions in class. And now they have graduated and the project moves into a new stage of continuing education in P-a-P and the transition of our Haitian graduates teaching the next group in Belle-Anse.

So now the genie is out of the bottle here. Our graduates are still in need of much support and continuing education will be provided: we are working on a five-year plan for them now. But they are not expecting us to do everything for them. They are moving forward on their own as well. For example, there were several questions in the July session about fibroids—a common issue for women here. During the September session, I brought a book (in English) of successful treatment of fibroids using homeopathy with 50 sample cases by an Indian homeopath, Sharad Shangloo, for one of the English speaking students. Now the students have decided to have a conference day on December 5 where they discuss the information and cases in this book, translating the information for the non-English speakers, so that all the students will have therapeutics for fibroids. This is a group of proactive, capable, determined people with a sincere desire to help their fellow Haitians, who want to see homeopathy be widely available in their country.

Haitian homeopathy students discuss fibroids book.

PG shows students the fibroids book from India, and gives details of the plan for the December 5 “conference” day to teach this material to the group.

It has been a good day here.

~ Karen Allen, CCH

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