The beginning of January 2023 saw me heading off to the Gujarat in India to Jay Ambe Hospital. I was part of the World Medicine – Acupuncture in Action charity providing free courses of acupuncture treatments to some of the poorest people in India. The team consisted of 5 acupuncturists, interpreters and admin volunteers. We were also joined by some fabulous local nurses from the hospital who helped with running the clinics and providing massage and moxa treatments.
The clinics were extremely busy with each acupuncturist seeing between 20-30 patients a day. The conditions treated were mostly Musculoskeletal-skeletal. We saw a lot of farmers with knee and back problems from the hard physical work they did. There were also many men who worked in the diamond polishing industry with shoulder problems from the repetitive stress involved in their jobs. Each patient was seen for up to 6 treatments over the 3 weeks we were there. It was truly amazing and satisfying to see the benefits from acupuncture and the improvements in their conditions over this time.
I treated many patients over the course of the three weeks but two stand out for the emotional impact they had on me. The first was a woman who made bricks from 3am – 9pm each day. Her hands were so sore and painful and I really hope that she found relief not only from the acupuncture but from the love and attention she received from the team.
The second patient was a young woman from the school for the blind in the local ashram. She arrived in the clinic absolutely terrified about needles and visibly recoiling from any touch. After a lot of gentle persuasion and reassurance she allowed me to do some acupressure and the satisfaction of seeing her visibly relax was amazing. On subsequent visits she started to laugh and even sang for us which reduced, the translator and myself to tears as it was so beautiful.
It was a a truly fascinating and inspiring trip and one that I hope to repeat in the future. It reminded me how powerful acupuncture can be and what a privilege it is for me as a practitioner to be able to provide this treatment.
More information about the amazing work World Medicine do in the UK with refugees as well as their work in India can be found at: https://www.worldmedicine.org.uk/