I never expected the first lecture of my first homeopathy course to change my life. As an epidemiologist, the only peculiar symptoms of interest were ones that flagged people for isolation. I was educated to think in big picture, at the population level. Nevertheless, I listened politely as our professor outlined the evolution of homeopathy across Europe and North America. When the discussion shifted to how homeopathy was used to treat disease outbreaks of the 19th and early 20th centuries, I recall straightening up in my seat. How were the two connected? She repeated a similar story for typhus, diphtheria, cholera, yellow fever, and even the dreaded Influenza: medical records showed that mortality rates for patients treated with homeopathic intervention were dramatically lower than those treated with allopathic intervention alone. Statistics was a language that I could understand, and I was stunned. In all of my post-graduate studies of epidemiology, how had the word ‘homeopathy’ never crossed my vocabulary?
It was a lightbulb moment. The reason I was sitting in that classroom, and the reason why I made the leap to naturopathic medicine, was because I had become disillusioned. I could calculate what caused or increased the risk of a disease, but I had no tools to help the situation, especially in places that needed help the most. Modern epidemics were too complicated, research money was too hard to come by, pharmaceuticals were too expensive, health systems were too complex... but here was homeopathy. We all know that homeopathic medicines are safe, economical, and easily transportable to countries with few resources. Most importantly, when prescribed by an adept practitioner willing to donate their time and energy, homeopathy works.
If you’ve ever thought about giving back, about sharing your gifts and knowledge with populations who could desperately use it, there are a number of non-profit organizations around the world offering homeopathic solutions for acute and chronic disease burden. One of the most devastating pandemics of our time is HIV/AIDS. Homeopathy for Health in Africa is an initiative by Jeremy and Camilla Sherr to help combat HIV/AIDS in Tanzania. Five years after inception, Homeopathy for Health in Africa has treated thousands of patients, and has shown that homeopathy can relieve both the symptoms of HIV/AIDS, and side-effects of the anti-viral medications that the majority of patients must be on. This has improved the health of whole communities. In fact, this organization has helped create a truly holistic model of community health, supplying nutritional aid, second hand eyeglasses, microloans and vocational programs to patients. For more information, here is a beautiful short film documentary that is worth watching. If you’d like to get involved, volunteers are needed, and welcome.
Other homeopathic non-profits in Africa include The Maun Homeopathy Project (Botswana), and the Ghana Homeopathy Project (Ghana), which use homeopathy as a complementary therapy for HIV/AIDS, other sexually transmitted diseases, and malaria.
If you are intrigued about volunteering as a homeopath abroad, but are looking for a shorter commitment or something closer to home, check out Homeopaths Without Borders and Homéopathes de Terre Sans Frontières. This organization offers opportunities for students and practitioners of homeopathy in both the USA and Haiti. In Nicaragua, Natural Doctors International (NDI) is happy to welcome licensed natural medical practitioners to their clinic on the beautiful island of Ometepe. I had the privilege of volunteering at the NDI clinic myself in 2014, and I can say that a homeopath would be a true asset to the medical team, even if you can only commit to a week.
If you are aware of other volunteer opportunities for homeopathic practitioners, or have had a positive experience volunteering abroad, we’d love to hear from you in the comments!
Laura Hughes PhD, ND (Cand.)